Step 3.3. Plan the follow up necessary to complement and extend the initial learning activities.
Follow up to initial learning activities increases the likelihood that professional development will result in changes in classroom instruction and other schools activities and programs. As these changes occur, the likelihood of improved student outcomes increases. Effective follow up can take many forms, including additional presentations and communication of new content, ongoing opportunities to observe effective practice, and opportunities to be observed and to receive feedback. Follow up may also include opportunities to practice new techniques and strategies and to discuss the results with colleagues. Finally, follow up may include additional sessions to introduce new content to the participants.
Follow up that helps teachers apply new knowledge and skills in their classrooms is particularly important when the initial learning activities are not explicitly linked to a specific school context, when these activities do not include opportunities for hands-on practice, and when these activities take place away from the school site. Traditional workshops and training activities, graduate courses, and participation in professional meetings and conferences are three examples of activities for which carefully planned, school-based follow up is essential. At the same time, it may be difficult to plan the follow up in advance because it is difficult to anticipate the additional learning needs that participants have following the initial sessions. In these situations, your plan should include some general options that you will consider and a strategy for identifying specific learning needs and follow up activities after the initial sessions.
In school-based informal learning activities, study groups, action research, and peer coaching and mentoring, follow up may be less of a concern because the activities are ongoing and long-term. Indeed, in these activities there may be little or no difference between the initial learning activities and follow up. Once again, the primary criteria for deciding what kinds of follow up are appropriate should be the extent to which the planned follow up can be reasonably expected to contribute to achieving the desired outcomes.
Planning Tip 10: Look for opportunities to share the responsibility for follow up.
Use the following menu to describe the learning activities that will be included in the professional development that you are planning: For each activity included in the plan, the following prompt will appear: Briefly describe the activity (e.g., who will lead or facilitate it, how long will it last) and indicate whether all participants are expected to participate in the activity. If participation in any of the activities includes “homework” assignments or the preparation of any products (e.g., instructional materials, improvement plans), describe the product(s) and the kinds of feedback that participants will receive.
Large group presentation
Small group presentation
Observation of participants
Feedback on mastery of new knowledge and skills
Review of student work and planning instructional improvement
Preparation of new instructional materials