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Past Event

Join WestEd at the Learning Forward 2019 Annual Conference

Learning Forward

Over a dozen WestEd staff and partners will present at the Learning Forward 2019 Annual Conference, held on December 7 through December 11, 2019, at the America’s Center Convention Complex, in St. Louis, Missouri.

With this year’s theme, “Gateway to Success: Our Learning. Their Future,” education leaders and policymakers will come together to share professional learning expertise that centers equity and excellence in both teaching and learning.

Attendees can choose from more than 300 concurrent sessions and keynotes addressing the most pressing issues for education leaders, including:

  • Culturally responsive teaching and instruction
  • Social-emotional learning and trauma-informed practices
  • Data-driven decision making
  • Professional development
  • Leadership capacity
  • New teacher and principal supports
  • School improvement, and more.

There will be opportunities to meet some of our expert staff from Learning Innovations, the Health and Justice Program, the Strategic Literacy Initiative, Quality Teaching for English Learners, and the West Comprehensive Center to learn more about our agency. We encourage attendees to share their insights using the conference hashtag, #learnfwd19, and invite you to join us at the following events and presentations:

Learning Forward Sponsor Reception: Monday, December 9, 4:30–6pm (note that the time recently changed). WestEd invites attendees to visit the WestEd table and meet with other K–12 leaders and our staff. Information on WestEd professional services and resources will be available.

Saturday, December 7

Pre-Conference Session: Instructional Materials That Meet English Learners’ Needs
Time: 9am–4pm
Presenters: Crystal Gonzales (English Learners Success Forum), Renae Skarin (English Learners Success Forum), Aída Walqui (WestEd)
Description: Join Crystal Gonzales, Aída Walqu and Renae Skarin to learn high-quality, educative curriculum is a fundamental component of an educational program that helps students access rigorous content and prepares English learners for college and career. Learn fundamental design principles and guidelines for selecting or adapting high-quality materials that will support educators in improving educational outcomes for English learners. Examine sample lessons featuring specific scaffolds that simultaneously promote access to language and content. Practice reviewing learning materials and making suggestions for improvement.

Pre-Conference Session: Learning From and With Communities to Be a Culturally Responsive Educator
Time: 9am–4pm
Presenters: Saroja Warner (WestEd), Alana Murray (Montgomery County Public Schools), and Sean Warner (Clark Atlanta University (CAU) School of Education)
Description: Effective educators in schools today must be culturally responsive in practice to effectively support educational equity for each student. Learn key practices for developing educators’ culturally responsive practice through co-constructed school-community learning experiences. Experience through simulations learning opportunities anchored in community engagement experiences that support the development of culturally responsive practices among teachers and leaders. Develop plans for implementing school-community learning experiences for developing culturally responsive educators in their home schools, districts, and programs.

Sunday, December 8

Pre-Conference Session: Professional Learning to Promote Teacher and Student Agency: A Teacher-Led, Video-Based Model
Time: 9am–4pm
Presenter: Nancy Gerzon (WestEd)
Description: Educators know that collaborative professional learning strengthens instructional practice and enhances student learning. But the reality is that collaborative learning does not always lead to improved practice. Explore a transformative professional learning model that uses continuous improvement cycles, teacher-led video study of classroom practice, and student-facing rubrics to strengthen instructional practice and enhance student learning. Learn key practices to step up site-based collaborative learning, including guidance for how to integrate classroom video and strategies that promote teacher and student agency.

Monday, December 9

Concurrent Session: Ready to Scale: Designing Sustainable Professional Learning using Four Dimensions of Scale
Time: 8:45–11:45am
Presenters: Nancy Gerzon (WestEd) and Marie Mancuso (WestEd)
Description: Learn about an innovative professional learning model focused on developing teacher agency through formative assessment and how to incorporate four key aspects of scale in the professional learning design. Hear from one district four years into implementing a districtwide approach to formative assessment. Consider how district leaders have attended to professional learning and systems change to support each of these dimensions of scale: sustainability, spread, depth, and shift in reform ownership.

Concurrent Session: Collaborative Instructional Planning for English Learners With Disabilities
Time: 2:30–4:30pm
Presenters: Bejanae Kareem (WestEd) and Silvia DeRuvo (WestEd)
Description: Engage in collaborative conversations focusing on instructional practices for English learners with disabilities, including how to advance academic language development and academic achievement. Reflect on the necessity of professional collaboration in working with English learners with disabilities. Participate in a lesson-tuning protocol to tune a lesson that targets English learners with disabilities to make appropriate accommodations to instruction.

Tuesday, December 10

Concurrent Session: Reigniting Your Professional Learning through VITAL PLCs
Time: 7:30–8:30am
Presenters: Melissa Strand (WestEd), Johanna Barmore (WestEd), and Suzanne Goff (Brockport Central School District)
Description: Learn how to foster shared leadership that encourages teachers to engage in collaborative teaching and learning cycles designed to provide formative feedback on all phases of teaching, including lesson planning, implementation, and analysis of student work. Explore productive and efficient ways to use professional learning communities as a vehicle to drive improvements in standards-based instruction and student achievement.

Concurrent Session: It’s a Brain Issue, Not a Behavior Issue: How Trauma and Toxic Stress Impact the Brain
Time: 8:45–9:45am
Presenters: Jenny Betz (WestEd)
Description: We may not always know it, but many of our students arrive at school each day with the weight of the world on their shoulders, having experienced adversities that impact their physical and emotional well-being and make it incredibly difficult to excel at school. But with curiosity, compassion, and the right tools, we can create school environments where all students can thrive. This lecture will focus on how trauma and toxic stress impact student brains and what that means for school staff. Participants will learn about typical and trauma-impacted brain development, trauma-informed practices, student resilience, and the importance of staff wellness.

Concurrent Session: English Learner Inclusive Instructional Materials
Time: 9:45-11:45am
Presenters: Crystal Gonzales (English Learners Success Forum), Renae Skarin (English Learners Success Forum), Aída Walqui (WestEd)
Description: Join Crystal Gonzales, Aída Walqu and Renae Skarin to understand the research base and receive concrete guidance for embedding effective English learner supports in core English language arts and math curricula. English learners deserve access to grade-level rigorous content, but what does this actually look like in instructional materials? Leave with tools and resources to evaluate and refine your current materials.

Concurrent Session: Investing in Equity: Critical Practices for Increasing Educator Diversity
Time: 2:30–4:30pm
Presenters: Saroja Warner (WestEd), Eric Duncan (WestEd), and John Marshall (Jefferson County Public Schools)
Description: Creating the right internal infrastructure is necessary for states and districts working to achieve equitable outcomes for all students. Without the right staffing, stakeholder engagement, and data framework, even the best strategies around equity are not sustainable. This is particularly true for increasing the racial diversity of the teacher workforce, one of the most important and beneficial strategies for all students. Learn about an ambitious effort to provide equitable outcomes for all students in one of the largest and most diverse districts in the country and walk away with the right framework and best practices for increasing the racial diversity of the teacher workforce. Obtain model strategies that can inform state and school district policies and practices to achieve greater racial diversity in the teacher workforce.

Wednesday, December 11

Concurrent Session: Leading Systemic Capacity Building in Professional Learning Design
Time: 1–3pm
Presenters: Linda Friedrich (WestEd), Gail Green (Baltimore County Public Schools), Heather Lageman (Learning Forward of Maryland), and Cecilia Roe (Maryland State Department of Education)
Description: Learn how the design of an adolescent literacy professional learning program integrates social and personal aspects of adult development to open up new ways of thinking about students’ capacities and your role. Examine a statewide and district-level rollout of this professional learning and apply lessons learned to your own context. Examine the concept of capacity building for teacher leaders, including aspects of social and personal dimensions as well as the necessary knowledge and skills.

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December 7–11th, 2019


St. Louis, Missouri


Learning Forward


Administrators, Teacher Educators, Teachers