This month, we are excited to showcase Karen Bryan-Chambers as our Modern Learner Spotlight! Karen is the senior director of the nonprofit Leadership Academy at New Leaders. She has more than 26 years of professional experience, including 16 years as a teacher, five years as a principal, and five years in leadership development.

Karen started off her modern learning journey by reading Designing for Modern Learning, and quickly enrolled in one of our public workshops to further her knowledge. Karen is a regular attendee of our Monthly Modern Learning Dialogue and we were lucky enough to have her speak to our community this past April about the intersection of DEI and L&D.

Question: Tell us about your modern learning journey and how Learning Cluster Design played a role?

Karen: I’ve been an educator since 1994, and I used to think that we could do everything in a two hour Zoom call with a PowerPoint and breakout rooms. I started wondering, why am I doing that two hour thing that is really not working? If it means it will take some extra time, if I need to do extra research, extra persona interviews to change the lives of the kids I’m working with, that’s what I’m going to do, and LCD was just a better way to help me do that work.

I read the book and loved it, and shared it with an Operational Manager, and she read the book in one day! She is actually the one that went on the LCD website and saw there were workshops – and I was like ‘I’m going.” 

I was tasked with creating a training on Equity and I brought that topic to the workshop so I could get feedback from the LCD facilitators and the cohort group. I felt that my work was worth the time and effort. Now everything I’m going to do is going to be a learning cluster. It’s the truth because it really helps – that’s what we want to see, change in on-the-job behavior!

Question: What stood out to you about the LCD model?

Karen: I design and develop all of the professional learning for our directors, and I was getting bored doing the same thing over and over, and I realized I was not changing on-the-job behavior. Then I read the book, saw Kirkpatrick’s model, and realized I never get above a 2. Did people like the training? Yes. Did they say they learned something? Yes. But that’s it – I don’t see you implementing it, I don’t see you changing your on-the-job practice, and we couldn’t even track results. I said something has to change so they can invest their training back on the job, and that is where the model really came in for us.

Question: How were you able to apply the LCD model to your DEI goals?

Karen: What I started thinking about is what do we already. What else do we actually do that we can build learning assets around this particular persona, Doubtful Dan. Everyone knows that equity starts with self. So we have to get them to really reflect on their own biases, their own identity and who they are are and who are they are bringing to this work. We started talking more about what gets them stuck and how to help.

Karen shares details on her DEI Learning Cluster and approach
Question: What do you think would happen if everyone implemented the LCD model?

Karen: I think everyone would be happy at their jobs. We would have low turnover, high morale and people excited about learning because they feel that people actually care about them as an individual, because they designed sometimes for me. You will have people coming to work engaged, highly motivated, and people wanting to do a great job because they are valued.

Thank you, Karen, for your passion around modern learning and for being such an important member of our LCD community!

Karen’s Full Interview on the Model