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How to Move From Learning to Action
Action planning can bridge the process of knowledge to practice. Action plans provide an opportunity to sustain the learning and strengthen the impact of the professional development experience.
by Christina Nigrelli, Senior Director of Programs, ZERO TO THREE Western Office
and Jenifer Chacon, Senior Writer/Training Specialist, ZERO TO THREE Western Office
Did you attend a training or participate in a workshop recently? Are you finding it challenging to apply the new learning or to implement changes in your practice? Professional development is an integral part of providing services and improving the quality of the services we provide to young children and their families. At times, however, our efforts to incorporate key aspects of the new learning fall short. Time constraints and work role responsibilities often complicate our aim for professional improvement and result in a struggle to intentionally translate what we learned into actionable steps in our daily practices.
Action planning can bridge the process of knowledge to practice. Action plans provide an opportunity to sustain the learning and strengthen the impact of the professional development experience. The action planning process involves setting a goal or aim and establishing a plan to meet the goal. The goal could address a specific challenge in one’s personal practice or to meet a specific need at the agency or organization of employment. The plan includes a set timeline, detailed tasks and steps, as well as identified strategies that make the plan specific and focused. It also sets measures to evaluate the progress of the set plan providing an opportunity to reevaluate and make changes to the plan.
Action plans are used as part of ZERO TO THREE’s Prenatal to Age 5 Cross-Sector Core Competencies Training and are allowing training participants to move the training’s focus of coordination and collaboration across disciplines into practice. The training is intended to strengthen the capacity of multidisciplinary professionals to connect with cross-sector colleagues and identify strategies for connecting and collaborating on behalf of young children and their families. The Action Planning Worksheet is provided to training participants at the start of the training as a tool to implement the key training concepts to practice. Participants reflect on a specific challenge they would like to address during the 12-week training and set a timeline, identify strategies, and delineate steps to address the overarching goal and ways to evaluate the progress.
Training participants are encouraged to share their action plans with other training participants. One training participant from the mental health field established an action plan focused on working collaboratively with a parent and a social worker. The three of them were having trouble establishing common ground and collaborating on behalf of the children placed in foster care. With specific relationship-based strategies and a strength-based approach, the training participant collaborated with both individuals in order to find a better placement for the children and support the parent in finding adequate transportation to visit her children. Action plans such as this one, have led to the application of new learning and resulted in increased collaborative work within and across organizations who provide services to young children and their families in various disciplines.
The action plan can be included as part of the training opportunity and can also be developed prior to the professional development activity. Setting an action plan prior to the professional development activity can help professionals focus learning on key elements of the content that align with the individual’s goals for implementation. In addition, the pre-planning offers an ability to ensure the professional development activity aligns well with individual agency and organizational goals and objectives. Either completed prior to or during the training, action plans can further support professionals in their aim to translate new or reinforced knowledge into practice. The focus and time spent identifying and taking advantage of professional development opportunities makes moving training content into actionable steps an important part of the training and professional development process. For more information about the P-5 Cross-Sector Core Competencies Training, visit P-5 Workforce Development. Interested in additional professional development activities, check out ZERO TO THREE’s Professional Development and Training.
- The Prenatal to Age 5 Cross-Sector Core Competencies Training is a component of the Prenatal to Age 5 Workforce Development Project funded by First 5 LA.