Leadership A Learning Forward Standard for Professional Learning

Please note: All information in this Adobe Spark (including direct quotes) ORIGINATES AT the LEARNING FORWARD Professional Development Standards: Leadership page.

Leadership: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students requires skillful leaders who develop capacity, advocate, and create support systems for professional learning.

Develop Capacity for Learning and Leading

1. Leaders should be the Lead Learners- publicly modeling their consistent focus on learning (and demonstrating that they have new things to learn!) Learning must be a core value at the school.

2. Leaders must align professional learning to classroom, school and school system goals for student and educator learning

3. Leaders must evaluate whether the professional learning is working, using data to measure its effects on educator and student performance

In order for these things to occur, the school must have a culture of a) norms of high expectations b) shared responsibility c) mutual respect d) relational trust. Leaders should be collaborative and can appear in both formal or informal roles. It is important to understand that all leaders share responsibility for student achievement.

Promo photo of Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" (film by Warner Brothers)

Advocate for Professional Learning

1. Leaders articulate the link between educator professional learning and increased student learning

2. They design needed resources to enable teachers to learn

3. They make their learning visible to others

4. They participate in professional learning within and beyond their work environment

5. They consume information in multiple fields in order to inform their practice and clarify their beliefs & values

6. They talk to government officials to ensure their voice & that of their teachers and students is heard, ideally so that policy decisions will be made with the importance of professional learning and practical educational concerns kept in mind

Used with permission from Pexels.com

Create Support Systems and Structures

1. Leaders establish organizational systems and cultures that enable professional learning & continuous improvement

2. They make sure the division of resources is equitable with a focus on accomplishing individual, team, school and school system goals

3. They engage with policy makers so that resources, policies, calendars, daily schedules and structures support professional learning

4. They create and align policies and guidelines to make sure professional learning is occurring within their schools (and may work at the national, regional or local level to achieve this)

5. They reflect upon, monitor and evaluate whether professional learning is effective at their school

Why is this standard Important?

Without leadership (and shared, distributed, collaborative leadership at that), professional learning will never launch. Professional learning is something that many people are interested in in theory, but there needs to be structure and support in order for schools to have the funding, time and other resources to implement it. Leaders who make it a priority in their school, build a school culture around learning, and who emphasize the importance of shared learning in order to best help students achieve will make all the difference.

Consider an example from harry potter

In order for these Defense Against the Dark Arts sessions to work, several elements are in play. First, there's Harry, a living example of the efficacy and importance of knowing Defense Against the Dark Arts. He's persuaded everyone in this room that knowing these spells is important - something which might even save their lives. Next, there's the practice space- the Room of Requirement. Then comes a clear communication system- enchanted Galleons so that everyone knows the time of the next practice. Harry is a leader who is making his own learning visible, setting up structures to promote learning and having students monitor one another in order to check efficacy and keep track of their progress. Additionally, he is working in a collaborative fashion, happy to learn spells from others as opposed to seeing himself as the sole teacher. One could argue these "Dumbledore's Army" sessions are really a PLC.

When Have I Used this standard?

I have used aspects of the standard but am still working on implementing other parts of it. I am certainly someone who believes in making learning visible and will often come to school with a book in my hand or share video clips in class of interesting content worth knowing (not always related to my subject area). As one of the Ed Tech coordinators, whenever I find an application that I think will be particularly useful or helpful to a colleague, I send it their way and offer to help them apply it. By making myself available to lead sessions in groups or one-on-one, I make myself more accessible and up the chances of colleagues using the new tech.

What happens when this standard is not used?

In short, things fall apart. Without leadership ensuring that professional learning is a priority, that resources have been allocated to it and that the school or district's views on the topic are being passed on to policymakers, little of lasting value can be achieved. Just like parents set the tone in their household and teachers set the tone in their classroom, leaders set the tone within their school or district. If the culture is not one that supports professional learning, there may be some solo practitioners but the average teacher will not be engaged or motivated to learn.


Dr. Lisa Hervey of The Friday Institute

Our own Project-Based Learning summer intensive (employees received lunch, a stipend, Skyped with outside experts and had to apply what they had learned to designing curricular units)

Additional Resources

Knapp, M.S., Copland, M.A., & Talbert, J.E. (2003, February). Leading for learning: Reflective tools for school and district leaders. Seattle, WA: Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy.

Spillane, J.P., Halverson, R., & Diamond, J.B. (2001, April). Investigating school leadership practice: A distributed perspective. Educational Researcher, 30(3), 23-27.

Thank you for Learning with me!


Photos are taken from Pexels.com unless otherwise noted.

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