Introducing EdFuel’s Guide to Job-Embedded Training

Mary Mason Boaz

mary mason boaz

Mary-Mason joined EdFuel in June 2015 because she believes that students deserve the most talented, focused leaders working with them toward their educational outcomes. Prior to her work at EdFuel, Mary-Mason led the Teacher Leadership Development team at Teach For America – D.C. Region, managing a team of ten people and leading the training and development of 6 instructional coaches and approximately 250 teachers. Before taking on that role, she served as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development for Teach For America, managing over 100 teachers and working with school leaders across D.C., Prince George’s County, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.

Mary-Mason has also served as a School Director for Teach For America’s Tulsa Institute, leading a summer school program for over 500 students and managing the development of 100 first year teachers and 10 teacher coaches. Mary-Mason began her career as a 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher at McClintock Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Mary-Mason graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Arts in French and International Affairs.

by Mary Mason Boaz, Director of Growth, EdFuel

At EdFuel, one thing we take very seriously is capacity building through talent and leadership development. Our philosophy is that we’ve got to be smart and strategic about how we retain and grow our talented education leaders (who are inside and outside of the classroom) because at the end of the day, they make the big choices that impact our students.

That’s why we are embarking on a mission to create free, easy-to-use tools that organizations can use to change the trajectory of their talent development game. To make this goal come to life, we’ve spent the past few months codifying, compiling, and generating best practices and research from across the country into a number of easy to use tools and resources.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of blog posts to highlight the different tools and to help you identify how you might make them work for you. So let’s get to it!


Resource #1: A Guide to Job Embedded Training

What is job-embedded training and why is it important?

The Center for Creative Leadership pioneered the 70-20-10 approach to professional development, which can triple the impact on employee performance.  This approach focuses 70% of development on on-the-job training, 20% on coaching and mentoring, and 10% on formal training and self-study. In order for a professional development plan to impact employee performance, the job-embedded training portion has to be strong, aligned, and purposeful. Identifying and executing on this “70%” job-embedded project can often be challenging for managers. Luckily, that’s exactly where our tool comes in.

How to Use the Tool

The tool walks you step by step through the two pillars of quality job embedded training and what each one looks like in practice. We’ve also added in a case study that runs throughout as a guide to help you see how the best practices are applied in a real life development scenario.

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To get a better sense, here is a highlight of two components in Pillar One:

  1. Initial Project Identification

This section helps lay out the foundations so you can understand exactly what the setup of your job embedded project should be.


2. Safety Net – What are the Consequences of Failure?

In order for a job embedded development plan to provide maximum growth for the employee, there must be a safety net as well as real consequences in place in order to create urgency and highlight the importance of the work.

  • Modest Safety Net: There need to be safety measures in place to ensure that the employee does not get overly stressed by the potential for failure.
  • Real Consequences for Failure: There is a real cost to the organization or employee if they fail on their project.
  • Employee View: Often, there is built in risk for an employee when being asked to learn a new skill. An employee may feel, if the project fails, that they will be judged as failing to gain that skill or perhaps, unable to gain that skill.  In order for the employee to feel safe enough to take this risk, it is critical for the manager to calibrate the employee’s view of the risk of failure and the safety net. Help the employee understand the manager’s perspective of consequences for failure and what the safety net is.  

Note on Organizational Culture:

  • If there is an organizational culture where risk and failure are regarded as part of the process, and are even celebrated, calibrating the employee view should be easier and may only take a conversation and a few reminders.
  • If the organizational culture is negative, or risk and failure are judged and seen negatively, the manager may have to go back to the drawing board if the employee feels like the safety net is not strong enough or the consequences for failure are too great (even if the manager does not). The bottom line: if the employee does not feel safe, they will not grow.

Example: The employee’s project is to collaborate with a fellow team member to write a $10,000 grant. They have to work in collaboration with the team member, which is their adaptive challenge, and are also focused on the technical challenge which is the skill of grant writing.



Keep an Eye Out

Those are just two small portions of the resource! Check out the whole tool here on our website.

After taking a look, shoot us an email if you’re using the tool! We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback. The bottom line is that taking your staff development to the next level is a completely feasible and worthwhile endeavor. If you have any ideas, questions, or feedback please reach out to me at I’d love to hear from you!