Professional Learning - Implementation



The Standard

Professional learning that enhances both educator practice and outcomes for each and every student applies change research and uses tools to identify and support the developmental stages of change and ensures the fidelity of implementation.

Implementation Defined

Implementation is the process of identifying, incorporating, monitoring, and continually refining professional learning that helps educators enhance their practice and encourage and inspire student academic and non-academic growth.

Implementation and Professional Learning

The primary goals for professional learning is to promote enhancements in educator practice, which, in turn, advances student outcomes. Implementation is an ongoing process of identifying and putting into practice the strategies needed to realize those goals both at the individual, team, school, and district levels. Implementation requires the continual support of all involved: paraeducators, teachers, building leaders, central office and district leaders, grade level teams, content area teams, staff, and families within schools and across the district.

Effective Implementation Strategies

Successful implementation of a professional learning system that enhances educator and student growth relies on three key strategies:

Adaptive change
  • For any process to succeed, it must be continually adapted to changing conditions, technology, standards, and requirements. A host of variables influence educators’ ability to cultivate enhancements of their practice. Change happens within both individuals and groups. Adaptive change requires:
    • Broad-based research into change strategies in order to align all appropriate resources, such as funding, people, time, technology, and materials;
    • Setting clear goals and maintaining high expectations for implementation with fidelity;
    • Tools and metrics to monitor, assess, and adjust implementation, as needed;
    • A culture of support that encourages stakeholders to use data to identify implementation successes, challenges, and potential refinements;
    • Community support for implementation by communicating incremental successes, reiterating goals, and discussing the complexities of change in an open and transparent manner; and
    • Sustained professional learning that provides opportunities for educators to learn and practice new strategies in their own environments.
  • Continual, constructive feedback enhances implementation by providing specific information to assess—and then adjust—professional learning practices that meet established content and performance standards. Educators’ self-awareness and reflection are also integral to implementation of new practices. Effective feedback:
    • Seeks a wide range of perspectives from others, including students, peers, coaches, supervisors, external experts, and one’s own perspective;
    • Is focused, objective, relevant, valid, and purposeful;
    • Acknowledges progress toward expectations and results;
    • Offers guidance for achieving full implementation at the individual and/or organization level; and
    • Relies on skillful communication, based on evidence, that demonstrates a commitment to continuous growth, shared goals, trust, and respect.
Refinement and reinforcement
  • Professional learning produces changes in educator practice when it sustains implementation support over time. Episodic, periodic, or occasional professional learning has little effect. When integrating new ideas into practice, educators need ongoing implementation support that includes opportunities to deepen their understanding and address problems associated with practice. Ongoing support may include:
    • Workshops designed to deepen understanding and refine educator practice;
    • Coaching, reflection, adjusting methods or strategies to improve practice, and assess the effectiveness of that practice; and
    • Collaborative learning teams through which educators plan, implement, analyze, reflect, and evaluate the integration of their professional learning into their practice.


Use these guiding questions to engage members of the school and/or district community to identify strengths, areas for growth, and next steps to align the Implementation standard across the school and/or district professional learning system:

  • Describe educators’ appreciation for or awareness of the adaptive change processes at the school and/or district level.
  • Who are the key stakeholders—at the individual and content area team level across schools and across the district—who should be providing constructive feedback on implementation?
  • How does the school and/or district provide opportunities for educators to implement new strategies into everyday practice?
  • What communication strategies are in place to ensure ongoing support for implementation at school, district, and community levels?
  • How does the school and/or district support self-awareness and reflection for educators?

Used with permission of Learning Forward, All rights reserved.