Good News

Kansas Stories

Kansas Stories, YOUR Storiessharing-kansas-stories

Implementing Professional Learning

Book Study via Twitter
in Dodge City USD 443

–from Judy Beedles-Miller, Assistant Superintendent For Elementary Education

Have you ever tried scheduling a book study? Selecting and providing a book is easy; finding a time for everyone to meet is difficult.

A group of teachers from Dodge City Public Schools voiced an interest in conducting a book study during the summer using Teach Like a Pirate, by Dave Burgess. This idea was immediately encouraged with the district purchasing the books for teachers. The planning was abruptly halted when selecting dates and times for the book study interfered with summer activities.  However, teachers planning together suggested book studies via Twitter would make it possible to “be” in two places at once.

Staff members were invited to join the summer professional learning opportunity by emailing a flyer developed on the Smore website for online flyers containing the following information.

Jump on the #TLAP443 Ship—Setting Sail Summer 2015!

Hey, Mateys! Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, will be docking in Dodge City on October 12, 2015!

We want to swab the decks and raise the sails, so plan on reading TLAP and joining in our book study via Twitter on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. (June2-July 21, 2015).

You can smuggle in your own copy of TLAP here, or you can check with TLC or your building captain regarding extra copies they may have for hijacking.

Prisoners are already signing up to moderate each of the 8 chats. Even if you’ve never participated in a Twitter chat, don’t be afraid to walk the plank! Our chats will be informal and we’ll only hold you hostage for 45 minutes to an hour.

PDC points are available for the 2015-16 school year.

The basic highlights of Twitter use were provided for the novice Twitter users with the veteran users serving as moderators following the Q1, A1 format to answer the questions. The sessions were archived in “Storify” allowing the ability to scroll back through the tweets.

This book study experience provided the awesome power of personalized professional learning on Twitter.  Conversations from others outside the district, including the author, Dave Burgess, provided a base for teachers to connect with great educators and build their own professional learning network.

As Robert John Meehan stated, “The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.”

Now we solicit YOUR Kansas Stories as well as photos related to how your district has implemented professional learning!

To share a photo, please email Sonya Schifferdecker at

To share a story, please complete the form below.

[wpgform id=’1889′]

Submission of stories or photos allows LFKS the right to publish the material in any LFKS publication or on the LFKS website. For more information on how to submit stories or shots, contact Communications Coordinator Sonya Schifferdecker.

Kansas Stories Read More »

KS Direct Connection Newsletters

ArchiveKS Direct Connection newsletter thumbnail

In the fall of 2015, the Learning Forward Kansas newsletter, the KS Direct Connection, was replaced by the LFKS website and other promotional and informational outlets such as social media.

These archived copies of the KS Direct Connection newsletter provide information about important ideas and events from the time period covered.


March (PDF 2.7MB)
May (PDF 2MB)

2014  lfks_dc_201505.pdf

March (PDF 873KB)
May (PDF 1.2MB)
September (PDF 213KB)
October (PDF 864KB)
December (PDF 2MB)


February (PDF 1.1MB)
May (PDF 2MB)
August (PDF 1.4MB)
October (PDF 1.6MB)
December (PDF 1.4MB)
February (PDF 714KB)
May (PDF 627KB)
August (PDF 1.6MB)
October (PDF 8.1MB)
December (PDF 3.2MB)
March (PDF 2MB)
May (PDF 1.6MB)
August (PDF 795KB)
October (PDF 1MB)
December (PDF 1.2MB)
January (PDF 3.6MB)
March (PDF 381K)
May (PDF 782K)
August (PDF 553K)
October (PDF 342K)
December (PDF 487K)
March (PDF 941K)
May (PDF 882K)
November (PDF 536K)
March (PDF 8MB)
May (PDF 1MB)
August (PDF 4MB)
October (PDF 1MB)
December (PDF 459K)
March (PDF 196K)
May (PDF 156K)
September (PDF 194K)
December (PDF 1MB)
March (PDF 873KB)
May (PDF 1.2MB)
September (PDF 162K)
December (PDF 192K)


March (PDF 117K)
May (PDF 84K)
September (PDF 107K)
December (PDF 94K)


September (PDF 108K)

KS Direct Connection Newsletters Read More »

Good News

Series Premiere–Inspired to Learn: Kansas Stories

By Vicki Bechard, LFKS Secretary and Dayna Richardson, LFKS Executive DirectorGood-news-story3

Learning Forward Kansas is proud to announce that the complete professional learning series:  Inspired to Learn:  Kansas Stories is available on the LFKS website for immediate use by all Kansas educators.  This free, five video resource is accompanied by a facilitation guide for each video to create the most beneficial experience for users seeking to achieve effective professional learning in their school or district.  Facilitation guides offer resources and strategies to enhance the video experience, modeling collaborative and engaged learning that deepens understanding. Suggested protocols are included to use before, during and after viewing to give context and help make meaningful connections that will aide in application to local work.  We know that one size doesn’t fit all, so if you have a different way to engage viewers, please feel free to use your own protocols!  The goal is always to go from knowing to doing!

How Will this Video Series Benefit Me or My School?
Inspired to Learn:  Kansas Stories walks viewers through the journey to effective professional learning that supports and drives all change initiatives.  As schools and districts seek to successfully implement school improvement goals through KESA, redesign or other initiatives, understanding the role of professional learning in this process is critical to that success. Establishing the WHY and WHAT we want to achieve, leads us to HOW that is accomplished.  LFKS has chosen this path for Inspired to Learn video series using Kansas educators from all levels and sizes of schools to underscore these beliefs, what it takes, and how it happens.  We want viewers to experience effective professional learning while learning how to create this same environment for their staff.  We want Kansas educators to know that they can learn from great examples right here in their own state.

Inspired to Learn:  WHY, WHAT, HOW
The first video in the series, “Why Professional Learning:  In Our School It’s Everyone’s Job to Learn,” focuses on why professional learning matters and why effective professional learning is critical to changing one’s practice, and implementing any initiative.  Featured in this first video are Kansas educational leaders from the classroom to the State Commissioner who share their beliefs and practices to underscore the importance of professional learning as a key to improving educator effectiveness and systemic change.

The second video in the series is entitled, “What is Effective Professional Learning?”  This video picks up where the first one leaves off, emphasizing the components of effective professional learning, both in belief and action.  Again a variety of educational leaders share examples of what effective professional learning looks like in their team, building and/or district.  Clips and photos of actual professional learning sessions are included throughout this video so that one can see what “effective” looks like.

The remaining three videos in the series focus on HOW to achieve effective professional learning.  These videos directly answer the driving question, “But what does this look like in my school?” by including examples from a variety of school sizes on a wide range of topics all working toward similar goals.

  • The first HOW video addresses “Learning and Leading Together.” In this 3rd video of the Inspired to Learn series, we explore the role of learning communities; why they are important; what at it takes; and what they look like in order to create a culture of success for all.
  • The second HOW video, “Better Together,” highlights many types of learning designs and how, in a collaborative culture, they facilitate collaboration, and change practice to achieve success for all. Educational leaders share experiences, lessons learned, and procedures for each featured learning design.
  • The third HOW video (the 5th and final video in the Inspired to Learn series) is “Learning Leaders: On the Road to Collective Efficacy and Student Success.” This video concludes this series and targets ALL leaders connecting what we’ve learned in all of the videos.  Kansas learning leaders from the classroom to the central office and the Commissioner of Education underscore the importance of leadership as they share their passion, experiences and ideas about creating and leading effective professional learning experiences that improve practice while fitting within a continuous improvement cycle that facilitates the development of collective efficacy. 

View, download and/or find more information about each video and the accompanying facilitation guide in the Resources section of the LFKS website.  We encourage you to find ways to use this series initially with leadership teams and eventually with all staff as it relates to your work.  Please share with us how you are using the videos and provide feedback as we look to find the best ways to support Kansas educators in their professional learning journeys.  We know we are #BetterTogether!

Note:  The series is also available on YouTube but facilitation guides can only be found on the LFKS website.

The “HOW” Videos — Inspired to Learn: Kansas Stories

By Vicki Bechard, LFKS Secretary and Dayna Richardson, LFKS Executive DirectorGood-news-story3

We have been Inspired to Learn – more and more through this grant video process!  The fourth video is in final edits and the final video on leadership is in production and both will be available SOON!

As districts are focusing on their KESA/Redesign improvement plans, change, and rethinking how they will better prepare students for post-secondary success, the need for quality leaders, effective professional learning, and implementation strategies/protocols to facilitate deep discussions and collaborative conversations is of utmost importance. The Inspired to Learn video series not only lays the foundation for WHY professional learning matters (#1), and WHAT professional learning looks like (#2), but provides extensive Kansas examples for HOW (#3, 4, 5) professional learning is being planned and delivered to ensure that the Improvement/Redesign plans are successfully implemented.

The HOW videos:
#3 Learning Communities
#4 Learning Designs
#5 Learning Leaders

Video #3 – Learning Communities focuses on what it takes and what it looks like to facilitate meaningful collaboration and better decisions that improve our practice and student success.  Many Kansas educators share their beliefs and experiences around the effective use of learning communities in their district, building and teams.

Video #4 – Learning Designs includes a wide range of learning designs that can be used to improve instruction that leads to student success.  The video focuses on 5 categories of professional learning:  Networking, Learning Together, C.O.R.E, Collaborative Dialogue, Analyze/Reflection. Within each category, Kansas educators share their experiences and ideas that specifically identify effective practices and how they were/are implemented.  We know one size doesn’t fit all, so this video is packed with ideas and is designed to be used by all schools and educators depending on their need and situation.

Video #5 – Learning Leaders addresses the importance of leadership (district and building administrators, coaches, teacher leaders, team leaders) throughout their journey (change process) as they work to improve practices that will lead to student success.  The focus will be on three parts:

  • WHY – Vision, Beliefs, Assumption and Mindset
  • HOW  – Process, Skills, Actions and Reflections
  • WHAT – Results:  Collective Efficacy and Student Success

For each section, Kansas leaders share what works in their schools as they create a culture of learning and Collective Efficacy.  We thank the many Kansas educators who have shared their work with us.

These videos and the Facilitation Guides for each video are (or will be) available on the LFKS Website.

Launching the 1st HOW Video – 3rd in the series, Inspired to Learn: Kansas Stories

By Vicki Bechard, LFKS SecretaryGood-news-story3

Learning Forward Kansas (LFKS) is excited to announce that the 3rd video in the series, Inspired to Learn:  Kansas StoriesLearning and Leading Together, is on the website and ready for educator use!  This new video helps educators understand Learning CommunitiesWhat It Takes and What They Look Like.  Examining the characteristics and actions of learning communities clarifies our purpose and targets our efforts in collaborative professional learning experiences.  This understanding will lead to more effective conversations as we seek to not only understand what works, but what works best.

As in the first two videos, a variety of Kansas educators share their beliefs, practical ideas, and actions that allow them to facilitate and support effective professional learning that transforms educator practices and leads to student success.

To continue this learning, the next video will focus on HOW learning designs empower educators through collaborative professional learning. We will explore how our understanding of What It Takes and What It Looks Like helps us select learning designs that enable educators to create and implement desired changes as they redesign learning experiences to improve student success.  The role of Leaders, including teacher leaders, in planning, delivering, modeling, and supporting effective professional learning will conclude the series later this fall.  The goal is to embed these practices into our everyday teaching and learning experiences.

Each video includes a facilitation guide that provides information and protocols to use when viewing the videos.  There is pre-work to use before the video, work to be done during the video when prompted, and follow-up activities after the video to promote understanding through conversations that lead to action.

Who might want to use this video series?

  • Teams who want to become more effective as they work together
  • Educators, teams, and schools who want a greater understanding of effective professional learning
  • Educators, leadership teams, and schools looking to transform/redesign their professional learning experiences as they implement KESA/Redesign
  • Educators and schools who want new ideas for professional learning that inspires
  • Educators and schools who want to reflect on their own professional learning practices
  • Those who provide professional learning for others

We encourage educators and schools to use these videos and share with us how they used them; what worked and what didn’t; and what resources you would like to see in the future to support your efforts toward effective professional learning.  Your experiences help us grow too!

Please check our website for more details on these and other resources, and upcoming events designed to facilitate the implementation of strategies and behaviors that lead to excellent teaching and learning every day!  

If you have questions or comments, please contact LFKS for more information or clarification.

The videos are made possible by the Learning Forward Foundation Grant and created by Dayna Richardson, Vicki Bechard, and Rosemary Miller, and many Kansas educators who have generously agreed to participate in interviews, allowed pictures to be taken of professional learning in their buildings, and provided feedback throughout the process.

Launching the WHAT Video – 2nd in the series, Inspired to Learn: Kansas Stories

By Vicki Bechard, LFKS SecretaryGood-news-story3

Learning Forward Kansas (LFKS) is excited to announce the 2nd video in the series, Inspired to Learn:  Kansas Stories, What is Professional Learning? is on the website and ready for educator use!  This new video focuses on the characteristics and components that comprise effective professional learning, concentrating on “what” goes into the planning, learning, and follow up that increases engagement and effectiveness.  It is a continuation of the journey toward effective professional learning that began in the first video “Why Professional Learning Matters:  In Our School It Is Everyone’s Job to Learn.”  As in the first video, a variety of Kansas educators share their beliefs, practical ideas, and actions that allow them to facilitate and support effective professional learning that transforms educator practices and leads to student success.

A resource guide is available to download and use with all videos.  Each guide is designed to provide information and protocols (strategies) to use before, during, and after viewing each video to help participants deepen their understanding of effective professional learning and make meaningful connections to their current and future practices.  The protocols in the resource guides are meant to be suggestions for use, so leaders may make adaptations to their situation or use other protocols as appropriate.  Each video also mentions other resources that schools may want to support their learning and will be included on the website or mentioned in the resource guides.

With the many challenges facing Kansas schools and educators with the new accreditation system (KESA), KSDE outcomes, and the desire to help all students become successful as they prepare for career or college readiness, effective professional learning is the key to implementing these changes or initiatives.  LFKS hopes that this video series will assist educational leaders as they plan, provide, and support the kinds of engaging, relevant professional learning experiences that will ensure that every school has excellent teaching and learning every day.

If you have questions or comments, please contact LFKS for more information or clarification.

The videos are made possible by the Learning Forward Foundation Grant and created by Dayna Richardson, Vicki Bechard, and Rosemary Miller, and many Kansas educators who have generously agreed to participate in interviews, allowed pictures to be taken of professional learning in their buildings, and provided feedback throughout the process.

Grant Update: Video Series is Live!

By Vicki Bechard, LFKS SecretaryGood-news-story3

Last year we were excited to be awarded the Learning Forward Foundation Affiliate Grant.  This year we are even more excited to announce that the first video is on the website and ready for Kansas educators to use to start the conversation about creating and sustaining effective professional learning in every building, within every team or staff, and for each individual educator.

The video series, “Inspired to Learn:  Kansas Stories,”  is designed to promote deeper thinking about WHY professional learning is important; WHAT effective professional learning looks like; and HOW we can use different types of professional learning to ensure that all across the state, everyone experiences excellent teaching and learning every day.

The title of the first video reflects the focus of the series and acts to jumpstart educators’ thinking around WHY Professional Learning Matters:  At Our School It’s Everyone’s Job to Learn.  Understanding why helps clarify purpose and goal directed actions.  Hear from Kansas educational leaders about the importance of why professional learning matters for them personally and in their work.  Consider the questions posed as it pertains to your own beliefs about professional learning, the professional learning you experience at your school, and the school improvement processes your school has in place.  Use the accompanying resource guide to further clarify components on the video and to create meaningful dialogue as you examine “why professional learning matters.”

Share this FREE information with your colleagues and peers!  The video is viewable online or on YouTube.  The resource guide is a downloadable pdf.  Check out other resources on the LFKS website that will give you ideas and options for making your professional learning effective and powerful.

Coming Soon:  The next video in this series uses more Kansas examples to define What Effective Professional Learning Looks Like and will be available before you leave for the holidays.

It’s a great time to be a Kansas educator as the many changes we are implementing across the state will prepare our students to be successful adults.  But before we can effectively implement those changes, we want to have educators who are prepared to lead and facilitate that path.  To learn more, click here or email us at

Good News Read More »

A Message from the LFKS President

As a former middle and high school football coach, I gave my share of pregame pep talk speeches. We gathered the team in an endzone or locker room and helped them focus on the game. 13 to 18-year-old athletes needed basic reminders of who was on kickoff but inspirational words also helped to set the early tone of the game. I always tried to emulate the message that Jimmy Valvano described in his 1993 ESPY speech in which he describes the three things every person should do every day. Early in the season, we would outline the three priorities of the team and these traits focused any speech for my athletes. This fall I have challenged the Learning Forward Kansas (LFKS) board to focus on three simple concepts:

Go Big, Stay Calm, Be Positive.

Obviously, to “go big” one must have goals and aspirations, but the concept is larger. Too often educators are hesitant to attempt something different or push back against a new initiative.  To go big means to refuse to let fear of the unknown stop our efforts.  For years I have prescribed the concepts that Marainne Willamson outlined in her quote highlighted in the movie Coach Carter.   “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our Light, not our Darkness, that frightens us.”  Many educators tend to ”play it safe” and while we always want research-based methodologies, we stop short of achieving our ultimate greatness. Perhaps we fear how great our impact might be; we fear our light. Over the next year, LFKS will strive to go big and find new ways to spread the “how” of professional learning.    

Teaching during a pandemic, one can become overwhelmed easily. Teachers are balancing students in quarantine along with worrying about their own health. Educators throughout the state will need to remember to stay calm. I have always liked the analogy of a duck on water.   On the surface, educators will look graceful and calm, even when the world spins too quickly.

In a TED Talk, educator Rita Pierson challenges teachers to be the hero that every student deserves. These words and concepts inspired the idea to be positive.  We challenge you to be positive and confident and you will make a difference this year.   Strive to impact students at higher levels and be assured that you have the skills to make a difference.    

Eric Shipman, President
Learning Forward Kansas

A Message from the LFKS President Read More »

Who We Are

About Us Business Background

Learning Forward Kansas (LFKS) is an affiliate organization of Learning Forward, focusing on professional learning that improves educator effectiveness and learning for ALL students.


Excellent Teaching and Learning Every Day


Learning Forward Kansas builds the capacity of educators to establish and sustain highly effective professional learning.


  1. Educational leaders include teachers, teacher leaders, and building and district administrators .
  2. Professional learning that improves educator effectiveness is fundamental to student learning.
  3. All educators have an obligation to improve their practice.
  4. Students are successful when educators assume collective responsibility for student learning.
  5. Successful educators create and sustain a culture of learning.
  6. Effective learning systems commit to continuous improvement for all adults and students.

Strategic Priorities

Learning Forward Kansas advances its vision and mission through three strategic priorities.

Standards and Impact

Learning Forward Kansas supports standards and examines evidence to strengthen and document the impact of professional learning.

Leadership and Practice

Learning Forward Kansas builds the capacity of educational leaders, members, and partners to establish, support, and sustain effective professional learning.

Advocacy and Policy

Learning Forward Kansas advocates policies and practices that strengthen professional learning for all educators.

Learn More About Us

Who We Are Read More »

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