Learning Forward Colorado
Deepening Understanding in Schools Summit

October 9, 2012

What follows is a quick summary of the Deepening Understanding Schools Summit held on October 9, 2012. Please consider what might be helpful to you as you work to design, implement, and support quality professional learning.

Event Outcomes:

You will . . .

Be Influential in networking and in conversation among Professional Learning Leaders about the value and importance of discourse which makes a difference in educator effectiveness.

Be empowered to engage in discourse resulting in new ideas, thoughts, questions, and learning through collaborative inquiry.

Experience the Learning Forward Professional Learning Standard of Leadership which states: 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.

First Strategy: We asked participants to engage in conversation around two topics. What follows is a compilation of their responses.

What is discourse?

  • Umbrella over dialogue and discussion
  • Deepens sense-making that allows us to go in new ways
  • Skills are involved in productive discourse
  • Means of empowerment to action
  • Purposeful examination of ideas, attitudes, and beliefs
  • It is an exchange for the purpose of understanding
  • Antithesis of reactional behavior

What does discourse look like in your work?

  • Openness of the relationship and clarity of the purpose of the conversation
  • Empathy and truly listening
  • Comfort level of ambiguity
  • Slowness and patience
  • Inquiry about a problem of practice
  • Seeking understanding (what are others thinking?)
  • Reflection/discourse dependent on time

Second Strategy: Microlab Protocol: Understanding and Applying Discourse

  • Participants were asked to think, write, share, and inquire using the following sentence stems:
    • Meaningful discourse in today’s schools (workplace) happens when . .
    • I can create and influence meaningful discourse by . . .

Third Strategy: An activity entitled FOUR DYNAMICAL TENSIONS from Got Data? Now What? Lipton & Wellman, 2012, Solution Tree Press.

  • Task . . . Relationship
  • Certainty . . . Ambiguity
  • Detail . . . Big Picture
  • Autonomy . . . Collaboration
    • Participants were asked to analyze their behavior in stressful situations while facilitating a group they lead.
    • Groups shared their experience and synthesized their responses.


The following chart encapsulates participants’ thinking and response to the summit strategies.

Networking – outside of the district – making connections Put electronic copy of (annual conference) flyer on website
Engaging in discourse – conversation to move thinking on discourse and how to apply in my practice More opportunity to learn from each other
Smart people who continue to care deeply about kids and their educators What resources exist for deeper understanding of discourse?
Time for reflection and new learning Conversation and networking Leadership lens Hear from Joyce about adult development

The opportunity to hear different perspectives and to construct a new understanding about discourse

Models/Examples of discourse

Lots of thinking in a short amount of time

Examples – Schools that truly have discourse at the heart of transformational work

The discourse was rich and helped me further develop self-awareness

Aha – this summit was a mirror of the “book-ended” learning . . . so I would like to have the same topic after Jan 22.

New time structure allows me more opportunity to be involved

More/continue discourse about what other districts/organizations are doing for PD?

Model of effective discourse

Comfortable and useful conversation that I could connect my learning to

Share what we’re doing and receive feedback

Model of effective discourse

Hear what others are doing in regard to effectiveness of professional learning

Connecting a standard “Leadership” to influence on a specific topic

More participants

Time to have facilitated discourse

Reached deeper understanding about facilitating discourse

Changes I can make
Close Window
Copyright © Learning Forward Colorado