Project Post-Mortem



A couple years ago, as a lead special education teacher, I was ask to develop training on the intervention process for the entire teaching staff. Our administrator and the special education team members realized that the general education teacher lacked an understanding of the intervention process and how it leads to eligibility and possibly special education services.  Teacher needed to understand that students that are under performing in the classroom and are referred for intervention are not guaranteed eligible for special education services.  Teacher did not understand that it was their responsibility to deliver differentiated tier one instruction with fidelity, while collecting data to show the lack of progress prior to referral. Once a referral was make they thought that meant automatic special education services.

I remember thinking this would easy and that the one week deadline was plenty of time complete the work. I considered myself an expert in the area and that I had all the information they needed to know. I began the project with a brief meeting with the special education team of three teachers, and decided that we would deliver the training together in one day during each grade level planning. We decided to use information from the intervention and special education manual. We also decided to use a projected PowerPoint to deliver the training.  I volunteered to put the PowerPoint together and we agreed to spit the slides evenly for delivery. I worked on the power-point on my personal computer at home and included a video to show an example of an ineffective intervention meeting. Graphics and charts, music and quotes were included.  Whew! I was pretty proud of the finished deliverable.  The night before training the PowerPoint was sent out to the team for final approval and all was well. We were confident.

Learner Objectives: teacher will learn…

  • The intervention and eligibility process from start to finish
  • How to complete forms
  • Who to contact for help
  • What is their responsibility through the process and in the classroom
  • What is the special education teachers’ responsibility throughout the process and in the classroom
  • What is the administrators responsibilities

Project Objectives: deliver training to…

  • Improve teachers’ understanding of the intervention and eligibility process
  • Help teacher understand their role and responsibilities before referral
  • Help teachers understand their role through the process
  • Help teacher learn the forms and navigate their way throughout the process

Training day

The conference room was setup with a projector. I arrived early and attached my laptop to the projector. Then the problems began.  The projector was not compatible with the laptop, so I scrambled to move the PowerPoint to another school computer, but lost some of the formatting and graphics. Apparently Windows 8 and 7 are not so compatible after all. The frustration could have been avoided with a test run before training day.  During the first two groups, things were a little shaky.  As we took turns to deliver our part of the the slides we realized that we needed to practice the presentation together, and we discovered how much more information the teachers needed based on their questions. Teachers needed more information than we anticipated.  We found that we were unprepared for some of the questions and needed some help from administration to answer them.

What went well

The teachers were unaware of the difficulties and glitches.  They seemed to enjoy the presentation and were engage throughout the whole process. The presentation sparked discussions and many questions.  The PowerPoint was uploaded to a shared file for later use and for on- going training. Administration was satisfied with the training and wanted to repeat yearly for new teacher. The projects was successful because the content was relevant, and information was generated from credible sources. There was no cost and the project was delivered on time.

Improving the Project

Although the turnaround time was limited, the project would have benefited from a needs analysis (project management phase 1). Interviews with the teachers and administration would have given us a better idea of additional information that might be needed and prepare us to address questions. A project plan (Phase 2) might have alerted us of problems that could occur and assist us in delineating and communicating team members’ roles and responsibilities clearly. Certainly phase 5, a test of the facilities and equipment would have assured the proper function of the laptop and the projector on training day. Lastly, project evaluation data would have been beneficial for improvement for future training (Greer, M. (2010).


Greer, M. (2010). The Project Management Minimalist: Just Enough PM to Rock Your Projects!  Retrieved from

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8 Responses to Project Post-Mortem

  1. hancai1997 says:

    Hi, Lana,

    I always say, when it comes to using technology (especially in a training or presentation), that what can go wrong, will go wrong. I’ve learned to always be prepared for it and have alternatives prepared just in case. Technology has most definitely NOT made our lives easier!

    I’ve also found, when it comes to training, that it is OK to say, “You know, that’s a really good question, and I don’t have an answer for you right now. But I’ll definitely find out what the answer is and I’ll let you know!” Usually people are very satisfied with that response, especially because I always make sure to get an answer to them as soon as I can after the session is over.

    You mentioned that the teachers weren’t aware of all of the glitches and were engaged through the whole process, and that is the most important thing. It sounds like overall you did a really good job. I think that no matter what the project is, it will always be helpful to look back and evaluate what went well and what didn’t and make changes for the future. At the same time, I don’t imagine that there will ever be a project that will go 100% perfectly; there will always be some room for improvement. So, in the end, the most important thing is that the clients were happy, and it sounds like in your case they were.

    – Michele B.

  2. Rebecca says:


    Your post is a such a great reminder about those little details that tend to get left by the way-side. However, from your description, you and your team managed to move forward in a professional manner that left the audience unaware of the issues. That is a laudable feat and you should be proud of yourself and your team.

    Being unprepared means that the teachers left without any answers or without the means to find those answers. I fret about that constantly when I teach, “what if they ask me a question I can’t answer?” I am told to not worry about it, there are always going to be questions you can’t answer. I was told to make them into a learning experience for the group, or just admit that I would have to get back to them with the answer. I still worry about it all the time, though!

    Rebecca E.

  3. dlc420 says:

    No matter how prepared we think we are there always seems to be something that is missed. Computer problems always seem difficult with different operating systems or different platforms and even different ways to connect the devices. Running through the project with your peers and in the room where the presentation was given may have helped. The class you offered was appreciated and helpful, you could tell because the audience was engaged and was asking questions.

  4. Krishna Patel says:

    Hi Lana,

    I have been in that situations many times. I can relate to the technical difficulties that one can encounter right before the start of a presentation. I have been in situations where team members feel that they do not need to practice the presentation together, as they will do their part when their slide is on screen. This is when things can get more complicated. To shed some light on the technical side of things, even if there is a run through to ensure all of the technical glitches are sorted the night before, there is no saying that it may not work the way it should on the big day. On the upside of things, either you are able to fix the issues, or you just flow with a back up plan, and in most cases the presentations gets delivered in any shape or form. The good thing about this experience, just as you had mentioned, is that usually the audience have no idea that you went through all these struggles. It is almost like a movie being played in the theater, and it all looks glamorous and pieced together nicely, but the viewers do not see all of the “behind the scenes” work of the make up artists, the bloopers and the individual scenes that have to be taken.

    Do you feel that if you had gone through the dry runs and had more preparation for the presentation, the audience response would have been any different? I always feel that the saying, ‘Live and Learn’ starts to get applied in all areas of our lives, whether personal or career related.

  5. Hi Lana,
    They say hindsight is 20/20. I guess a situation like the one you had it’s a statement you can agree with. From an insider perspective you could see all that went wrong with the project but looking back to your learning outcomes, if your learners achieved those, then mission accomplished. It is always important to do a ‘dry-run’ of a project/presentation before it is delivered. I encountered a similar situation where I did a test run of a group presentation in the computer lab and found the application I used was incompatible. I stayed up all night converting the file only to discover that at the actual lecture room where I was to present, the machine there had the application that I had started off with. I could kick myself but I learned a valuable lesson that day. It pays to plan ahead and visit the venue where possible.

    You mentioned an important step and that was the need to find out what exactly your intended audience needed from your team. It is good that you were able to anticipate some of their needs but like you mentioned, it was surprising some of the thing they didn’t know already. Would love to hear how the second version goes. You could possibly include an evaluation from the participants at the end.

  6. lludo2013 says:

    I totally agree that nothing can ever be a 100% unless we are flawless and we all know that impossible. I look forward to learning from my mistakes and doing better the next time.

  7. lludo2013 says:

    Totally agree that an evaluation form at the end would have been helpful

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