Why is high-quality professional learning important to you, 
and how has LFM supported you in this mission?

by Sara Trotter, Eton Academy

QuestionMarkI was asked to talk about professional learning. Within minutes of reflecting on “What does professional learning mean to me? Why do I value it?” I was tweeted a plug for my regular twitterchat, discussing “Changing Public Perception of Teachers” and I realized that I was living in a state of constant professional learning. I seek it out. I am a lifelong learner. I am naturally curious. So, that part was easy – I am innately drawn to learning.

Now, a deeper level of metacognition, “Why do I value it?” I did what I normally do when reflecting: I let myself swim in the words, in the pondering; I read some quotes, like “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge (Albert Einstein)  and let them mix with the ideology floating in my mind as I experience my life: I look at my children, 6 and 3. The way they learn; the strategies they apply; the life skills they need; I look at the teachers I support and the students they work with and I understand completely and wholeheartedly why I value professional learning. “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because, unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so. (Noam Chomsky).

We, as educators, can help create an promising future. Being the very best that we can be for the students we work with, the children of our future, we can help not only each individual child reach their potential but, collectively, help our students see themselves in the future of their dreams. Sounds idealistic and possibly unrealistic, but if we aren’t in it for the kids, why are we here?

A perceptive colleague of mine once told me, “We expect our students to learn something new everyday, why should this not be expected of educators as well?”

In my search for professional growth in my specific field -coaching and consulting – I found Learning Forward. Attending two annual conferences, immersed in topics that mattered to me, and sharing ideas with like-minded educators, I was energized and motivated to dig deeper within my work and to be more mindful of my role in supporting teachers to reach the needs of their students. I found an organization whose signature line is, “Every educator engages in effective professional learning every day so every student achieves.” A perfect fit!  Although I’m just beginning my professional journey with Learning Forward, I’m excited to explore this path.