Learning Forward Conference

Sustaining Professional Learning Practices: Learning Forward

For years, I had heard that the Learning Forward national conference was one of the most useful professional learning opportunities focused on professional learning out there.  After attending the December 2019 conference, I believe this is true!  

Learning Forward is the national organization that builds educators’ knowledge and skills to lead and sustain effective professional learning.  Their learning programs provide strategies and tools to strengthen learning systems and build capacity at all levels. Learning forward offers professional learning standards and ideas on how to build learning communities.

Their workshops also provide specific tools to use in professional learning and learning communities. More information on learning communities is offered here  https://learningforward.org/standards/learning-communities/

In one session about restorative practices and equity, facilitated by the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, Invitation to a Brave Space was introduced. This activity is used to create the right space for difficult or rich conversations that arise when learning together.  I’ve been using this in our trauma engaged schools work and in our staff meetings to build community as we begin learning together. It was well received by all and people very much appreciated time to be in a circle together. The activity is included here.

An Invitation to Brave Space

Purpose: To create intentional brave space in a circle setting for meaning conversation

Materials: The poem “An Invitation to Brave Space” by Micky ScottBey Jones


(1) Sitting in a circle, invite each participant to read one line of the poem.  Read the poem as many times as needed so that each person has the opportunity to read at least one line.

(2) Ask participants to reflect on which word or line they most resonate or connect with.  Give participants a few moments to consider.

(3) Do a second go-around the circle with each person sharing their line or word and why this is meaningful to them.

(4) If the group has agreements, this can be a good time to talk about how the agreements help create brave space.  


Together we will create brave space

Because there is no such thing as a “safe space”

We exist in the real world

We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds.

In this space

We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,

We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,

We call each other to more truth and love

We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow. 

We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know,

We will not be perfect.

This space will not be perfect.

It will not always be what we wish it to be


It will be our brave space together, 


We will work in it side by side….

— By Micky ScottBey Jones inspired by an unknown author’s poem.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions (hcoulehan@nullaasb.org)!  I would also enjoy hearing how it goes if you try out the practice.