Opinion
Education Opinion

The Birth of the Learning School Alliance

By Learning Forward — July 14, 2011 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Learning Forward will welcome its third cohort of schools into the Learning School Alliance at next week’s 2011 Summer Conference. In the three years since its launch, 55 schools have been part of the LSA, an international professional learning community designed to form and/or strengthen professional learning at participating schools. As we continue to refine and define LSA, is interesting for me to remember back to its inception, which itself was a bit of a surprise.

Shortly after I joined Learning Forward in 2008, Stephanie Hirsh told me about her dream to have “learning schools” all over the country that were committed to job-embedded, collaborative adult learning. When I asked her to describe what she had in mind and what that would look like, all she could say was she wanted to see banners hanging at schools that singled them out as schools that were “all about learning"---not just students learning, but adults deeply committed to their own learning and its impact on student achievement.

It was clear to me that Stephanie wanted to put Learning Forward’s money where its mouth was and prove that our definition of professional learning was not an abstraction, but a way that educators can and do actualize professional learning at their campuses.

Being a concrete thinker who prefers clearly drawn pictures and bulleted lists, I left the meeting a bit distraught and pondering what my next steps ought to be. I had far more questions than answers. What does a learning school look like? What do educators who work there do? What are students doing at learning schools that is different from non-learning schools? And if a place is called “school,” isn’t it a given that learning is going on?

Back in my office after that initial meeting, I noticed a preview copy of what was then the latest Learning Forward publication, Becoming a Learning School, on my desk. Several flips into the book, I found a diagram of the backmapping process. I was intrigued and started to read the chapter. Though quite familiar with the process, it suddenly clicked for me in a new way---this is what learning schools do regularly, and Learning Forward should be helping schools that don’t do it learn how.

The Learning School Alliance was born. It took a black and white diagram to trigger new thinking in me. Looking back on that serendipitous moment, I realize that I had experienced a bit of adult learning myself when I came to look at something familiar in a new light.

What happened next is fodder for future blogs, as I will continue to write about the lessons from the field that LSA affords. As we launch the latest cohort this summer, though, I can’t help wondering if there would be any cohorts had I not taken a moment to read, respond, and ultimately react to something learned long ago in a new and intriguing way.

Carol Francois
Director of Learning, Learning Forward

The opinions expressed in Learning Forward’s PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Gunman in Parkland School Massacre to Plead Guilty
The gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Florida high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said.
4 min read
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP