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“We’re in this together”: Setting the stage for powerful adult learning

by Sarah Tierney

Creating learning opportunities for students is at the heart of what it means to be a teacher. But, too often, we forget that it’s equally important that learning opportunities extend to teachers and leaders, too.

Staff at Condon Elementary School in Boston collaborate.

Staff at Condon Elementary School in Boston collaborate.

We’ve learned that, for a growth mindset to spread across an entire school, leaders must put themselves out there in the same way they expect teachers to. That sends the reassuring message that we’re in this together and that we all have something to learn, no matter our experience or background. And when leaders consistently create time and space for learning to take place, safe from the pressures of evaluation, teachers are far more likely to open up and engage in thoughtful reflection.

Opening up our own practice, vulnerabilities, questions, and ideas and discussing them with colleagues shows us that we are not so very different. It shows us that together, we are and can become a lot smarter than if we each tried to think about and improve teaching and learning on our own.
— Richard Elmore

When learning is ongoing and woven into the fabric of a school, it becomes a habit and changes the way teachers and leaders think about themselves and what they’re capable of. And when we adopt this growth mindset, our students benefit from improved teaching.

Use these resources to deepen your understanding of how other leaders have approached this work and use their insights to help develop a plan to foster a culture of adult learning in your school.


We’ve spent ten years learning from thousands of leaders and teachers across the country about the things that make a big difference for schools. Now, we want to give you the opportunity to do the same. We’ve organized these Lessons From the Field in a new section of our website by our main areas of focus—everything from harnessing the power of formative assessments to fostering a culture of adult learning.

Sarah is a director of new partnerships and former coach at ANet. She’s leading the Lessons From the Field project.

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