Learning Forward
Conference Proposal System

The Learning Forward Annual Conference is used to advance Learning Forward's vision: Equity and Excellence in teaching and learning. Proposals should align with the conference focus and Learning Forward's Standards for Professional Learning. To learn about Learning Forward's Standards for Professional Learning, visit our website.

December 5–7, 2021
Aurora, Colorado
Send inquiries to: conferenceinfo@learningforward.org.

Proposals to present are due by 11:59pm EST on Wednesday, February 3, 2021.

You will be notified of the status of your application by May 6, 2021.

Sample Blank Proposal Form


Prior to beginning the proposal submission process:

Once you begin the proposal submission process:

  • Read through the proposal form and draft your proposal in Word. That way you will have a copy if your submission fails for any reason.
  • Complete the online proposal.
  • Make a copy of your proposal and save the confirmation receipt from Learning Forward.
  • IMPORTANT: Once you "COMPLETE" and "SUBMIT" your proposal, no corrections will be accepted. However, you will be able to read your final proposal after you submit it and print a PDF copy.

You will be notified before May 6, 2021 regarding the status of your proposal.

Thank you and good luck!

Proposal Submission Tips

  1. Prepare a draft of your responses to the questions in the proposal form and save them as a Word file. When you are ready, cut and paste your responses into the final proposal form. Please note that ASCII symbols (i.e. trademark, copyright, superscript, etc.) may not appear in the form as they do in Word.
  2. Sessions that include school district/division employees are given priority. Those who work with schools are encouraged to submit presentations with practitioners as co-presenters.
  3. Sessions that include diverse presentation teams are also a priority in terms of selection for the program. The selection committees value diversity of presentation teams in terms of race, culture, gender, level of experience, or areas of educational expertise.
  4. Conference workshops are 5-hours, 4-hours, 3-hours, 2-hours, and 45 minutes. Sessions should be designed to engage participants. To ensure a high level of engagement, the session process outlined in the proposal is given greater weight than other criteria in the review process.
  5. The intent of our conference is to foster the beliefs, vision, and mission of the organization. All sessions should be designed from a professional learning perspective and align with the conference focus, Learning Forward's Standards for Professional Learning, and Learning Forward vision: Excellent teaching and learning every day.

Proposal Review Process

Proposals are reviewed by Learning Forward staff, the Host Committee, and other volunteers. Reviewers use the proposal scoring criteria below as the basis for scoring proposals and evaluating them. Every effort is made to have each proposal scored by a minimum of three reviewers. If you wish to be part of this review process, either remotely or in the host city, contact conferenceinfo@learningforward.org .

Proposal Scoring Criteria

  1. To what degree does the proposal address the Learning Forward vision, standards, and selected area of focus?
  2. To what degree does the proposal address how professional learning advances school or district/division improvement, student achievement, and educator performance?
  3. To what degree does the session proposal outline a process that models the best in adult learning, participant engagement, and clearly delineated session outcomes?
  4. To what degree does the proposal provide a unique, creative, or innovative solution to Learning Forward members and conference attendees?
  5. To what degree is the proposal informed by research and/or evidence-based practice?
  6. To what degree does the impact statement in the proposal demonstrate the effect of professional learning on student achievement, educator performance, and school or district/division improvement. If the professional learning has been implemented 3 or more years, please include impact data. If less than 3 years, include emerging data.
  7. Presentation teams that include school district/division employee(s) will be awarded additional points.

Conference Areas of Focus

  1. Advocacy Efforts/Policy Development
  2. Coaching
  3. Developing Leaders
  4. Equity & Excellence
  5. High Quality Curriculum
  6. International Perspectives and Emerging Issues
  7. Leadership Practices
  8. Learning Communities and Networks
  9. Learning Designs and Implementation
  10. Research & Impact
  11. Social & Emotional Learning
  12. Virtual Professional Learning

Guiding Questions

Advocacy Efforts/Policy Development: How do teachers and school leaders build support for professional learning through policy development, advocacy, and implementation? How can systems influence policies and practice related to professional learning? How do educators document and share evidence with policy makers about the impact professional learning has on student learning and educator practice to mobilize for action? What are the tools that support educators as they advocate for effective professional learning conditions at the school, district, state/provincial, and national levels?

Coaching: How do systems accelerate new teacher and leader competency to increase retention? What are innovative and effective models of coaching? How do mentors and coaches use coaching cycles to provide effective feedback to improve educator practice and results for students? How are systems using coaching to transform best practice? What support do coaches require to effectively support teachers and leaders?

Developing Leaders: What are essential knowledge and skills for leaders and decision makers at all levels? What is the role of professional learning and leadership standards in leader recruitment, development, support, and evaluation? In what ways do systems identify, develop, and support classroom, school and district leaders? What policies and practices effectively cultivate the development and support of teachers and school leaders?

Equity & Excellence: How do professional learning leaders equip educators with knowledge and strategies specifically designed to recognize and eliminate bias in the classroom and in their own instructional practices and eliminate gaps in access and opportunities by ensuring high-quality teaching, leading, and learning. Additionally, how do teachers and leaders transform practices and policies at all levels that shape anti-racist learning systems for adults and students alike? What research-based knowledge, skills, and dispositions are required to personalize education for each student to achieve equity and educational excellence? What strategies have demonstrated success in ensuring culturally proficient learning systems that meet the academic and social needs of every student (i.e., race, class, culture, gender identity, learning differences and other factors)? How do equity-focused professional learning efforts move from shifting beliefs to meaningful actions?

High Quality Curriculum: How do educators institutionalize a coherent and aligned instructional framework/program? How do teachers learn deeply and effectively to implement and adapt instructional materials and curriculum for their classrooms? How do systems implement processes that support deep exploration of high-quality instructional materials? How can content materials be a vehicle for school and district improvement?

International Perspectives and Emerging Issues: What are the critical issues professional learning must address? What research and models are emerging from around the world related to effective professional learning? What innovations will shape professional learning for the future? What are structures and policies to support transformation for the next generation of professional learning?

Leadership Practices: How do leaders establish systems and structures that support effective professional learning and ongoing continuous improvement? What role do superintendents and boards of education fulfill in establishing and supporting high-quality learning systems? In what ways can leaders facilitate, support, coach, personalize, supervise and evaluate professional learning to ensure all educators and students are learning at high levels? How do leaders leverage technology, time, finances, and human capital? What tools and processes help leaders ensure alignment of coherent and relevant resources and make critical and strategic decisions? In what ways can leaders build a culture of trust? What critical research findings inform successful leadership practices?

Learning Communities and Networks: What are the conditions for establishing collective responsibility, authenticity, collaboration and trust? What are critical elements and roles of communities/networks within and across schools and systems? How do educators create, sustain, and evaluate school- and district-based learning teams? What are tools, protocols, and resources to guide and structure learning communities and networks? How do educators promote sustainable change, increase educator effectiveness, and drive student achievement through communities and networks? How do educators use learning cycles to transform knowledge and practices in a culture of continuous improvement?

Learning Designs and Implementation: How do educators apply research to inform the selection of learning designs for in-person and virtual professional learning? How do educators apply research to inform the selection of learning designs? What are essential knowledge and skills associated with planning, facilitating, presenting, and advancing effective, ongoing professional learning? What norms, protocols, processes, and resources support effective professional learning? What support systems and follow-up strategies ensure deeper learning (adults and students) and sustained implementation of new practices? How are systems transforming professional learning to achieve greater personalization for adults and students?

Research & Impact: How do successful schools and teams measure the impact of professional learning to drive continuous improvement? How are educators documenting evidence that links professional learning, educator practice, and student learning? What protocols, processes, and resources support the use of assessment for learning to improve teaching and learning? How are educators using research to make decisions about systems, strategies, and support for improving teaching and learning?

Social & Emotional Learning: How do educators apply research on social emotional learning, power, entitlement, and privilege to support learning for all? How are SEL practices integrated into classroom and school practices? What are some common implementation challenges and strategies to address them? What professional learning supports developing and sustaining SEL practices for students? What SEL practices benefit educators in particular?

Virtual Professional Learning: How do educators create and adapt professional learning structures and strategies for virtual, digital, and hybrid settings? How do educators build relationships, trust, and communication skills to support professional learning and collaboration in a virtual context? How does virtual professional learning offer opportunities to ensure educators have widespread access to learning? What are some common implementation challenges and strategies to address them? How are systems creating structures and policies that support the effective use of virtual professional learning? What are promising models for and evidence of powerful virtual professional learning?

Presenter Requirements

Proposal Submissions
A presenter may submit or appear as a presenter/co-presenter on two proposals only.

All presenters and co-presenters must be conference registrants. Presenters must register for the conference by September 30, 2021. Presenters are expected to be learners as well as presenters.

Audiovisual Equipment
Session rooms will be provided with complimentary wifi and set with a screen and LCD projector. Sessions with 60 or more participants will get a complimentary wired mic. Presenters are responsible for ordering and paying for any other equipment or bringing their own.

Handouts or Other Materials
We will share handouts digitally with conference participants. Presenters are strongly encouraged to make handouts available online through Learning Forward for conference attendees. Presenters who prefer printed handouts are responsible for reproducing and providing all handouts for participants. All appropriate sources must be cited and permission, where required, must be obtained with regard to the materials used in the session.

Non-Commercial Policy
Learning Forward policy prohibits the sale of products and services during conference presentations. Presenters may not display or distribute brochures or order forms, talk about their services, promote themselves, or sell their publications. Referencing or citing a presenter's own publications is acceptable.

Selection Criteria

In addition to the scores awarded a proposal by reviewers, criteria that can be used to determine the selection of a proposal for the program include:

  • The number of submissions for an area of focus or topics addressed;
  • The number of hours requested in a proposal;
  • The composition of the presentation team;
  • Geographic location of the presentation team; and
  • Presentation history with Learning Forward.