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How to Facilitate Job-Embedded Professional Development

Thanks to its partnership with publisher Eye on Education, EducationWorld is pleased to present this blog post by Sally J. Zepeda, author of Instructional Supervision: Applying Tools and Concepts. In this piece, Zepeda discusses four conditions that are essential to successful implementation of job-embedded professional development.

Job-embedded learning links learning to the immediate and real-life problems faced by teachers and administrators. It is based on the assumption that the most powerful learning is that which occurs in response to challenges currently being faced by the learner and that allows for immediate application, experimentation and adaptation on the job.

Job-embedded learning means that professional development is a continuous thread that can be found throughout the culture of a school. There are three attributes of successful job embedded learning:

  1. It is relevant to the individual teacher;
  2. Feedback is built into the process; and
  3. It facilitates the transfer of new skills into practice.

Job-embedded professional development facilitates the transfer of new skills into practice. When ongoing support through the tools of job-embedded professional development is linked with instructional supervision, transfer of skills into practice becomes part of the job. Four conditions are essential to ensure successful implementation of job-embedded PD:

  • Learning needs to be consistent with the principles of adult learning. Learning goals are realistic; learning is relevant to the teacher, and teachers have concrete opportunities to practice the skills being learned.
  • For learning to occur on the job, teachers must be able to trust the process (e.g., peer coaching, videotape analysis), their colleagues, and themselves. Teachers need to know that feedback will be constructive, not personal.
  • Sufficient resources must be available to support learning. Providing release time for teachers’ professional development requires the creative use of human resources. In addition, outside facilitators are sometimes needed to assist teachers in learning new skills. Funding must be made available to meet these costs.
  • Time within the regular school day needs to be made available for learning. Traditionally, professional development takes place after hours, usually at some remote site. Job-embedded learning requires time to be regularly built into the routines of the normal working day at the teacher’s school site. To extend learning time into the regular school day, the principal can re-arrange existing planning time to create extended time for teacher learning and planning, and also create additional planning time, beyond the traditional daily planning period, for collaborative learning.


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