Learning from the Field Memo

With Learning Forward Pennsylvania

We ARE the Professional Learning Organization in PA.


Learning Forward Pennsylvania seeks to enhance the quality of professional learning through advocacy and the provision of high quality resources to educators in order to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn at high levels.


Excellent teaching and learning every day.

Organization of this Memo

"I'm LFPA!"

"I'm" = Inspiration and Message from Learning Forward Pennsylvania

"LF" = Learning / Leadership Focus

"P" = Professional Learning Resources / Activities

"A" = Advocacy for the Standards for Professional Learning


Tanmay Vora: Well-Being in the Time of Social Distancing

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It is as critical to ensure our mental well-being in the times of COVID-19 pandemic as it to stay safe physically. The world is gripped by anxiety caused due to spreading infections/deaths, a constant bombardment of news updates and the looming economic uncertainty because of the lock downs. It all feels like an assault on our mental well-being from multiple fronts.

How do we stay sane during such disruptive times?...

From Tanmay Vora's Blog

Click here for the Full Blog Post

Message to Members of Learning Forward Pennsylvania

It has been quite the journey so far!

Hi Learning Forward Pennsylvania Members!

I hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe.

As we approach the beginning of June, people are emotionally and mentally taxed by strict social distancing policies, and are becoming starved from a lack of access to human interaction.

Humans are social creatures. This period of time has been -- and will continue to be for quite some time -- both a profound illumination of that, and a deep test of it.

We are truly blessed by the availability of digital communication tools with the ability to connect on some level, it's not the same. Seeing someone on the other side of a video camera, sharing emails or texts, and talking on the phone helps, but it doesn't replace the human-to-human connection that happens in person.

There is something about being together that is built deep within us.

Usually at this time of year, the last few weeks of the school are typically filled with all kinds of events--prom, pep rallies, yearbook signing, and graduations.

But, ever since March 13th, 2020, we had to become isolated from one another, maintain physical distancing, and start living our lives not with the usual bustle of events like traditional graduations and rituals that typically end our school years. Instead, we started having to live in the small moments like family dinners around the table and game nights.

This experience has forever changed us, showed us what really matters, and it has and will continue to change the way we do education.

  • We discovered that we could not simply replicate what we did in a traditional brick-and-mortar building in a remote learning environment.

  • We had to innovate what it was that we were teaching and our students were learning.

  • We saw the importance of leading in the face of change when there is no clear path forward.

  • We learned that in the face of uncertainty, we are stronger than perhaps we know.

  • While technology was an important piece, we learned how important it is to value our staff over stuff.

  • We saw first hand that human connection precedes content, and that learning is, and always has been, a social endeavor.

  • Finally, we learned that the small stuff matters. A kind word or a small action makes a world of difference to another human being.

It is now time to start to move from this new normal to our next normal as we start to think about the 2020-20201 school year.

The Learning from the Field with Learning Forward PA Memo is designed to keep school & district leaders, teachers, and instructional coaches well-informed on learning and leading practices, professional learning resources, and advocacy around the Standards for Professional Learning.

Educators are busy, so this memo provides a one-stop shop for educational information, activities, and resources meant to inform and push professional practice.

This issue is dedicated towards a focus on our future steps in our next normal.

Kind regards,

Donna Spangler (Learning Forward Pennsylvania Co-President)

Learning / Leadership Focus

Blog: How do I ask my teachers to work preparing for next year when they've already been working so hard?

What are your plans to start next school year? How do we move forward when there has been so much trauma and challenges? Do you have one plan? Do you have multiple plans?

What if you could have a plan by the end of June with a solid plan of action, regardless of the state of school in the fall that was created in collaboration with leaders from around the United States?

Jethro Jones is running a School Reopening Workshop with limited seats available where leaders receive a framework of templates, meet virtually once a week in June to co-create planning documents and curate a collection of resources, create their plan, and end with an August Live Session to be sure you have what you need to be successful.

Find out more on this unique and limited seating opportunity.

From Jethro Jones' Blog

Click here for the Full Blog Post

Professional Learning Resources / Activities

TNTP: COVID-19 Toolkit

The COVID-19 School Response Toolkit offers resources for navigating changes to school resulting from the pandemic.

In this toolkit, TNTP offers free resources to help adults in the school system navigate the wide range of challenges they're facing right now—from implementing strong at-home instruction while schools are closed, to working with their teams remotely, to finding virtual solutions to teacher recruitment, staffing, and professional learning, to planning for the residual effects of the pandemic in the coming school years.


Click here to browse resources for navigating extended school closures during the coronavirus outbreak and planning for reopening.

Webinar--Learning from Coaches: End Strong, Begin Stronger! (Thursday, June 4th, 3-4:00 P.M. Eastern)

Join us for an exploration of how coaches are traversing the challenges of distance professional learning, remaining connected to the teachers they support, and applying their expertise in accelerating teacher learning.

Participants will:

  • Learn strategies for identifying teachers’ needs and planning virtual professional learning sessions for a strong start to the NEW year;
  • Explore recommendations for building and supporting virtual learning teams;
  • Share strategies for celebrating the successes of teachers and leveraging them for the NEW school year; and
  • Engage in Q&A opportunities among a community of learners.

From Learning Forward International

Click here for More Information and Registration Details

Resource: FREE digital course on Remote Learning 101

Matt Miller (author of Ditch That Textbook, Ditch That Homework, Don't Ditch That Tech, & recently released Tech Like a PIRATE) has created an amazing free digital course on Remote Learning 101.

When schools started closing their buildings and going online, educators were sent scrambling. After the dust settled, they were left with some questions:

  • How can learning continue to go forward during remote learning? (CAN it go forward?)
  • How can I build relationships and provide for my students emotionally?
  • How can I make the most of video calls and recorded videos?
  • Can I do this?

In this FREE course, Remote Learning 101, educators will get lots of practical tips, ideas and resources to make a plan for remote learning. They'll think through some of the key parts of it. They'll take practical steps toward building the remote learning class they need -- and their students need.

The FREE course includes:

  • More than 2 hours of personal video footage with course instructor Matt Miller of Ditch That Textbook
  • A community element with discussion questions for the comments section of each module
  • Extra resources, including downloadable templates, video tutorials, podcast episodes and more
  • Downloadable (or printable) planning documents to help educators think through their plans

Webinars: CharacterStrong Social-Emotional Learning, character development, and school culture

Creating a safe, supportive environment for SEL is a high priority for schools as they think about students' needs as they return to school next year.

On October 29, 2019, Learning Forward Pennsylvania was fortunate to have John Norlin (from CharacterStrong) and Dr. Chris Clayton (our own Learning Forward Pennsylvania board member) present at our LFPA Day of Learning.

They addressed the importance of cultivating a culture of character and developing social-emotional skills in your students and in your school.

The research shows that when a school takes the time to cultivate a culture of character and develop social-emotional skills, students perform better and want to be there, and bad behavior goes down. Explicit instruction focused on the social and emotional aspects of learning (SEL) result in improved academic learning.

From CharacterStrong

Click here to see their Upcoming Webinars.


Overview of the Standards for Professional Learning

The Standards for Professional Learning, developed in collaboration with other 40 professional associations and education organizations, outlines the characteristics of professional learning that lead to effective teaching practices, supportive leadership, and improved student results.

Increasing the effectiveness of professional learning is the leverage point with the greatest potential for strengthening and refining the day-to-day performance of educators.

Widespread attention to the standards increases equity of access to a high-quality education for every student, not just for those lucky enough to attend schools in more advantaged communities.

Through the Standards for Professional Learning, Learning Forward leads the field in understanding what links professional learning to improved student achievement.

Look below for a brief video [4:17] to find out more about the Standards for Professional Learning.

Overview of Standards for Professional Learning

Facilitator Guide: Standards for Professional Learing

Designed to assist facilitators in introducing and helping others implement the standards, this guide is for educators new to the Standards for Professional Learning.

See below for the Facilitator Guide.

Quick Reference Guide: Standards For Professional Learning

See below for the free quick reference guide.

The full guide with complete explanation of each standard, research citations, and guidelines for how various stakeholder groups can make use of this document is available for purchase through Learning Forward International.

Executive Committee

Dr. Fran Miller (Co-President)

Dr. Donna Spangler (Co-President)

Dr. Kate Kieres (Treasurer)

Dr. Stacey Stoudt (Secretary)

Board Members

Dr. Ann Appolloni

Dr. Chris Clayton

Miss Tracy Fasick

Dr. Geraldine Fitzpatrick-Doria

Ms. Rhonda Hill

Mr. Joseph E. McFarland, Jr.

Dr. Marybeth Irvin

Learning Forward Pennsylvania Website

This is the website of Learning Forward Pennsylvania.

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