Back-to-School Professional Learning: What Educators Need in 2022/2023

As GOA’s professional learning team looks ahead to the 2022/2023 school year, we look directly to educators. Throughout May, GOA hosted focus groups with 35 educators across 26 schools and nine countries. Participants spanned teacher and leader roles from elementary/lower to secondary/upper school. They collectively followed a protocol for sharing insights on professional learning content and design that began with upvoting potential course topics. After that, they engaged in conversation, replying to questions on the current issues, challenges and initiatives in their school communities on which they desire professional learning. Three themes emerged that reinforce the need for job-embedded, student-centered, relational learning experiences for educators. These themes align to stories our post-course surveys of the last three years have been telling us and reinforce how we may continue to support schools through our programming at GOA. And beyond GOA, they may offer affirmation and direction for how schools prioritize nurturing their adult communities and leading their own professional learning this school year.

Theme 1: Educator Communities

“We believe that relationships are at the heart of learning–whether that is student learning or adult learning.” Glenda Baker, GOA Associate Director of Faculty Experience

“I would love it if more GOA [professional learning experiences] had synchronous options and opportunities.” Brandon Rogers, Parker School

The pandemic shifted how connected many educators felt to their students and colleagues and revealed gaps in how we cultivate belonging not just for our students but also for our teachers. Professional learning that creates space for conversation, for sharing drafts, and for engaging in synchronous touch points supports educators not just in getting the upskilling they seek, but also in feeling known and connected. Designing for community in professional learning impacts more than learning gains; it impacts well-being and offers sustainable networks of support.

Learn more: Translating Teamwork at GOA to Professional Growth: A Teacher’s Journey by Jacqueline Grant

Theme 2: Student-Led Learning

“How do we give space [to students] to reflect on what worked in each step of the learning process? How can they identify the why and look for strategies to transfer to the next stage of the learning process?” -Perla Zamora, American School of Tampico

Empowered learners are aware learners. They have an active role not only in what they are learning but how they are learning. All things “student-led” emerged as priorities for the 2022-2023 school year: What does student-led learning really mean? How do we empower students to lead their own learning? What is effective self-assessment? How do we encourage student-led participation? These questions shared across focus groups tell a story of students at the center and also of student-centered work requiring a shift in practice. How can teachers design structures and processes that allow students to grow along their own learning pathways?

Learn more: How to Foster Student-Led Learning: Part Three in Our Series on Shifts and Strategies for Teachers by Bonnie Lathram

Theme 3: Time

“I would love to see a model that shows schools as places of learning unbound from daily schedules.” -Mark Childs, Madison Country Day School

And finally, from the time teachers have with students, to the time allotted for preparation, to the time educators have to invest in their own learning, we heard a sincere call to support the challenge of time. How can we use time differently? How can we design learning so that it is embedded in what teachers are already doing in the classroom? How can we honor educator time by delivering exceptional, bite-sized learning experiences? Educators asked for self-paced learning, but they also want connection. They seek synchronous, relational learning, but they also need to set their own schedules. Just as we know our students do not thrive in a one-size-fits-all approach, we heard that teachers need responsive, time-flexible, personalized pathways for their own professional growth.

Learn more: Why Making Educator Work Visible Matters by Becky Green and The Power of Collective Purpose in Schools by Eric Hudson

What's Next

GOA is listening, learning, and responding. As we launch our back-to-school programming for the 2022/2023 school year, we are considering the themes of community, student-led learning, and time. We are aligning our offerings to our educator competencies, emphasizing meaningful connection across schools, and creating flexible pathways for deeper learning. We’re hopeful that what’s ahead offers both relational and personalized opportunities for what educators need most and empowers them in turn to lead learning in their school communities.

We invite you to explore the new offerings listed below. And we welcome hearing from you on how we might support your school teams in the year ahead:

Back-to-School with GOA:


Launch your start of school with a 1-hour Zoom workshop from GOA. These workshops can fit right into your opening school meetings and are ideal for catalyzing deeper conversation. You pick the date and time. Learn more and inquire about scheduling a workshop.

  • NEW: Goal-Setting for a Purpose-Driven School Year

  • Assess for Learning: The Essentials

  • NEW: Cultivate Belonging: The Essentials

  • NEW: Designing for Student Voice

  • NEW: Designing a Feedback Ecosystem

  • Introduction to Competency-Based Learning


Learn alongside educators from GOA’s global network. We offer facilitated and self-paced online courses that are free for educators from GOA member schools. Register for courses.

  • NEW: Visual Design for Educators

  • NEW: Redesign Rubrics

  • NEW: Redesign Discussions

  • Assess for Learning Essentials Course

  • Competency-Based Learning Series

  • Online Learning Design Series

Learning for School Leaders

Connect with leaders at other schools and learn alongside them through these unique opportunities for current and aspiring school leaders.

Strategic Consulting

We specialize in working with cohorts of colleagues to dive deep into student-centered learning. Inquire about a customized cohort for your school. Potential focus areas include:

  • Competency-Based Learning

  • Online Learning Design

  • Assess for Learning

  • Fostering Student-Led Learning

Stay tuned! Coming later in 2022:

  • Live Events on Feedback and Building Adult Collaborative Communities

  • Courses in Redesigning Rubrics and Class Discussions

  • Workshops on Rethinking Time and Space, Building Collaborative Communities, and Fostering-Student Led Learning

GOA serves students, teachers, and leaders and is comprised of member schools from around the world, including independent, international, charter, and public schools. Learn more about Becoming a Member. Our professional learning opportunities are open to any educator or school team. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter. To stay up to date on GOA learning opportunities, sign up for our newsletter.

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