“LfPL is a community of practice rooted in dialogue,” said Dr. Phil Poekert, director of the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning, as he welcomed travelers from around the globe to Dublin City University and the fourth Leadership for Professional Learning (LfPL) Symposium.
LfPL is not an ordinary symposium. As opposed to lecture-style presentations, hosts share their ideas through open discussions. Through these discussions structured by protocols, practitioners from different educational learning cultures come together to share ideas and advance one another’s work. The symposium sparks partnerships and innovations that would not have been possible without international collaboration.
But even before the symposium begins, LfPL leaders organize school visits in the host country for a small group of attendees. Visits to schools open up opportunities for educators to compare and contrast experiences, find points of connection, and to understand that educators and schools across the world face similar challenges.
“I thoroughly enjoyed engaging in conversations with colleagues from around the globe with shared experiences and multiple perspectives from varying contexts; [and] reimaging how I define professional learning and how to better engage teachers as leaders in that process,” LfPL Attendee
As the opening session began, attendees heard from the LfPL planning committee and set their intentions for the next two days. They would work in small group sessions, grapple with complex questions and challenge varying perceptions in the effort to push education forward. School teachers, policy makers, researchers and international leaders were all in attendance, allowing for rich and diverse discussions to occur daily.
“Dialogue is the central principle of the leadership for professional learning model,” Sue Swaffield, University of Cambridge
The success of the LfPL Symposium is best captured by the results of the conversations that inspired participants to form new partnerships and innovations. An upcoming special issue (46.4, 2020) of Professional Development in Education (PDiE) highlights the collaborations that emerged from the 2019 Cambridge symposium and will be published as a book in December 2022. LfPL participants were invited to contribute again to another PDiE special issue that will be published next fall. This special issue will focus on the partnerships that emerged from the 2021 virtual symposium and the 2022 Dublin symposium. The PDiE special issue speaks to the purpose of LfPL: Professional development, leadership and educational systems are nuanced, complex, and challenging; but the opportunity to bring voices from around the world to work on those challenges is what will change the educational landscape for educators and students.
“In networks like LFPL, the expertise and energy to change lives is in the room,” Ken Jones, Professional Development in Education
Since 2017, the LfPL Symposium has convened over 500 educators to work toward a common vision of improving education globally, has created spaces to challenge educational norms, and has contributed to growing networks and partnerships.
“Leadership is shared, activity-based and open to all,” Fiona King, Dublin City University.
In 2024, LfPL will be hosted in Valparaiso, Chile, at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaíso (Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso).
For more information about the Leadership for Professional Learning Symposium, visit http://lfplsymposium.org/.