Cultivate, create, and connect

Virtual network builds community and sparks continuous improvement

By Learning Forward
October 2019
Vol. 40, No. 5
When I was a principal, it was difficult to gather my staff for professional learning after school. They wanted to learn the material but seldom had time to participate in these learning opportunities because of time, classroom responsibilities, family commitments, or child care issues. As a result, many teachers didn’t have the benefit of sharing best practices with colleagues or learning innovative teaching techniques, so I couldn’t justify further investment in the professional learning. I soon learned that other principals were having similar challenges with their teachers. We all faced the same question: Is it possible to help teachers overcome these challenges while still providing them access to meaningful collaboration opportunities and professional learning? Since my time as a principal, I have learned that the

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Darla Edwards

Darla Edwards ( is director of special projects at Virginia Advanced Study Strategies.


Beesley, A.D. & Clark, T.F. (2015). How rural and nonrural principals differ in high plains U.S. states. Peabody Journal of Education, 90(2), 242-249.

Bryk, A.S., Gomez, L.M., & Grunow, A. (2010). Getting ideas into action: Building networked improvement communities in education. Stanford, CA: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Dessoff, A. (2010). Reaching digital natives on their terms. District Administration, 46(4), 36-38.

Wenger, E. (1999). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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Learning Forward is the only professional association devoted exclusively to those who work in educator professional development. We help our members plan, implement, and measure high-quality professional learning so they can achieve success with their systems, schools, and students.

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