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Practice and observation of focal skills

Effective professional learning aims for educators to gain or improve specific skills and engages the educators in observing and practicing these skills as part of the professional learning activity. Approaches to practicing skills can include:1

  • Viewing and collaborative discussion of lesson videos or real-time demonstration lessons
  • Facilitated walk-throughs and analysis of lesson plans, materials, or assessments
  • Virtual observations of colleagues implementing the skills in a lesson
  • Structured, collaborative analysis of sample student work or teachers' own student work
  • Individual or collaborative planning of units, lessons or assessments that apply focal skills

To monitor and enhance the impact of professional learning on educator practice and student outcomes, professional learning facilitators and/or other leaders should continue to observe participants' implementation of the focal skills. Approaches to remote observation can include:2

  • Real-time virtual "walkthroughs" from mentors, coaches or leaders
  • Analysis of recorded lessons
  • Review of lesson plans, materials, assessments, student work, or other artifacts

Note that all approaches to observation should involve high quality feedback and opportunities for observers and educators to discuss the feedback.

1 L. Darling-Hammond, M.F. Hyler, M. Gardner. (2017). Effective teacher professional development. Learning Policy Institute;

2 Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). (2006). Online teaching evaluation for state virtual schools. SREB Educational Technology Cooperative; Darling-Hammong, Hyler & Gardner. (2017).​