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Case Study

Easily Managing Teacher-Driven Professional Learning at Haysville USD 261

Penny Schuckman, Director of the John Burke Learning Center at Haysville USD 261, shares how Frontline Professional Growth helps her facilitate professional learning to meet each teacher’s individual needs.

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District Background

Penny Schuckman is proud of the professional learning offered at Haysville Unified School District 261. As the Director of the Dr. John Burke Learning Center, she oversees all professional development in the district, offering synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities to address individual and building needs.

Since 2003, Haysville has used Frontline Professional Growth to manage and track professional learning. Penny says it not only helps her easily access the information she needs to report to the state, but it also supports greater efficiency in her department. “Paper, pencil — I mean, that seems like an absolute nightmare to me. I wouldn’t be able to do as much at my job as I do if [Frontline] wasn’t so user friendly and seamless and all in one spot.”

Individual Professional Development Plans

By September 15 each year, every teacher must create an Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP) in Frontline. They set goals in the system and work toward them throughout the year. Penny can quickly see any past-due IPDPs. “When it gets close to September 15th, I have principals who want to know who is done with that IPDP and who isn’t, and what stage are they in? So now I can print that off really easily for them.”

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“Everything that we use on it is so powerful and so wonderful and so user friendly.”

Penny Schuckman
– Director, Dr. John Burke Learning Center

Targeted Professional Learning

“Eighty percent of professional learning in our district is what people choose to go to. It’s not done to them; it’s differentiated and it’s by their choice.” Teachers can browse a catalog of available learning activities in Frontline, including videos and online lessons the district has added, workshops, committee meetings, and many other learning formats, then select the ones that will help them make progress toward their goals.

Each month, Penny plans a workshop teachers can choose to attend. “I offer a variety of workshops based on the building’s professional development plan that they say that they need, whatever they’re focusing on,” she says. She will often ask teachers with expertise to present: “Hey, you’re awesome at classroom management. Why don’t you come over and do a workshop for us? And you’ve got instant credibility because people that work with you, they know you and they know you’re great at classroom management.”

Tracking Points for Relicensure

In Kansas, every teacher is required to earn a certain number of professional development points each year for relicensure and so the district can receive categorical aid from the state. Penny leads the committee that oversees this process and uses Frontline to manage transcripts and track points earned by teachers. “When we have a workshop or there’s an in-service in a building, we put that activity in our district catalog and a description and the number of points.” When teachers register for an activity through the catalog, the system tracks the points they earn.

When teachers attend an out-of-district workshop, they complete a professional leave request form in Frontline. There’s also a form to track graduate course credits. “They enter that in Frontline, so it’s just easy peasy when it’s time for me to upload their transcript to the state,” Penny says. “The transcript is just so easy to print off. There’s the date range that I can put in that matches their license, so I don’t have to go through records and compute all that myself.”

Professional Learning as a Tool for Retention

Haysville partners with Wichita State University, and staff can earn graduate credits if they attend certain workshops. Staff love this because not only are they able to grow in their practice, they can also move up the pay scale for every 12 graduate credits they receive. “They can do all that here at the Learning Center.”

Teachers and staff enjoy coming to the Learning Center. “It’s very well received. They see it as a perk. When Human Resources goes go to job fairs, they say, ‘Hey, we have a Learning Center. You don’t have to go out of district if you don’t want to. It’s paid for. They give you cookies and spoil you rotten.’ So typically people really enjoy it over here.”

Tracking Growth

Penny says that Haysville centers its professional development on five “big rocks” such as curriculum and instruction and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. “We have a classroom walkthrough form that is centered on those five big rocks, and when an administrator or district leader or instructional coach goes into a classroom, they can focus on one of those big rocks when they go in to observe. All of our professional learning is centered around those five big rocks.” Then, they can look at the data in Frontline. “We look at that classroom walkthrough data. Are we seeing what we want to be seeing in the classroom? And when we have weak areas, which you always do, then I focus our professional learning on that here at the Learning Center.”

Using Frontline Professional Growth

Penny says using Frontline to manage professional learning for the district expands her own capacity. “It helps me most with the logistical paperwork,” she says. “That it’s just a couple of clicks for my staff lowers their anxiety. It takes one more thing off their plates, which makes my job so much easier.” When staff who are new to the district ask about the software, Penny assures them that they’ll have no trouble using it. “I can’t say enough about how user friendly it is.”

Teachers and staff have chock-full calendars, so ease of use is vital when encouraging teachers to pursue their own learning. They love that it only takes a few clicks to log into Frontline and register for a learning activity to track points. After completing an activity, they can provide a quick summary of their learnings in a form that is then routed to their principal for approval. “It just makes them want to come learn something because the paperwork is not going to be tedious for them.”

Principals like it as well. Some opt to enroll everyone in their building in certain activities, so employees don’t even need to sign up.

Penny especially likes the support she receives from the Frontline team. “Whenever we need help, we do a little help ticket. And I’ve never had to wait more than 24 hours for someone to get back to me, so that is just so wonderful.” Recently she hopped on a Zoom call to get some help configuring a report that shows which employees have completed their IPDPs and which haven’t yet. Now she can get a list of those names with the click of a button.

“I literally could not do my job without Frontline. I wouldn’t want to do my job without Frontline because it would just be too overwhelming.”