A One-Stop Shop for Self-Directed Professional Learning
Martin County School District uses Frontline Professional Growth to offer custom professional learning opportunities, enable teachers and staff to drive their own learning paths, and easily track data used by the district and the state.
At a Glance:
- Martin County, Florida
- K-12 Enrollment
Frontline Solutions in this Case Study:
- Frontline Professional Growth
As Coordinator of Professional Development at Martin County School District (MCSD), Heather Platt’s team oversees professional learning for all employees at the district, certified and classified staff alike. It’s no small task to provide a wide range of learning opportunities for well over 2,000 employees, especially as the district prioritizes giving each individual the ability to pursue the learning that will be most impactful for them.
One distinctive of MCSD’s professional learning program is a district-wide conference that the district hosts for every employee. “Last year we ran two sites, and staff were able to build their day. We provided them with a calendar, and they could click around and build their day of learning.” Heather said that providing staff with choice in their learning has been well-received, and over the past three years attendance at the conference has steadily increased. “Last year, opening it up to our operational staff, that’s the first time we’ve ever done that, so that was really exciting.”
Needed: A New System
MCSD had previously used an online system to manage professional learning, but it was mainly limited to handling registrations and tracking credits. Several years ago, the professional learning department began looking for a system that would enable them to do all of that plus create custom professional development content and offer it to the entire district. They found the answer in Frontline Professional Growth.
The Ability to Offer Custom Content
“We needed a platform where we could provide consistent professional learning for a large rollout in our district, and Frontline offered that,” Heather said. As part of a literacy-focused professional learning effort, Heather’s team worked hand in hand with MCSD’s literacy coordinator and literacy coaches to develop content and then publish it in Frontline Professional Growth for the entire district. “With Frontline, we saw that we could build custom content within the system. We saw that it had more opportunity than just being a system to track in-service credit.”
Other departments followed suit, creating custom courses and making them available to teachers and staff. Teachers liked the options available to them as well and began using the team rooms in Frontline to meet for book clubs.
Voice and Choice
“We really believe it’s important that staff have choice in their learning, so we’ve worked really hard to provide opportunities for staff that they can choose their path,” Heather said, noting that staff attendance and participation in professional development has increased. “They like the opportunity to choose what they want to learn about and where they want to grow and the things that they’re interested in.”
“[Teachers] like the opportunity to choose what they want to learn about and where they want to grow and the things that they’re interested in.”
Teachers frequently offer feedback. One kindergarten teacher was especially glad for the district-wide conference, saying it was one of the best days of professional learning that she had ever had. “She felt like the options met her needs, which is really important to us, because when we do choice days like that, we try to offer a variety, because we want everyone to feel like they have something that fits what they need. She was really sweet and authentic about it and felt like her needs as a kindergarten teacher had been met that day — and that she had that opportunity to choose where she wanted to go.”
That choice extends beyond the content and includes flexibility in when and where staff participates in learning or taking required trainings. “Teachers appreciate the opportunity, one, to have consistent training and development. Two, they could access it when they wanted to. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, you have to be here on this day at this time.’ They could log in after school one day. They could do it in the morning while they’re drinking their coffee.”
Tracking Professional Development
Tracking completed professional development for state requirements is simpler with Frontline Professional Growth as well. While the program’s emphasis is certainly on teacher growth and development, compliance still matters! MCSD tracks in-service credits in the system for recertification, and the system also makes it easy to report who has or hasn’t completed state-required courses.
The state of Florida requires a 20-hour course on students with disabilities. Depending on a given teacher’s content area, they may also need to complete a reading endorsement, or an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) endorsement, or a structured literacy course — all of which are offered through third parties — and then have those credits applied to their transcripts. The team at Martin County uses Frontline to enable staff to register for these courses through the system and upload their certificates upon completing the course, which then applies the credit in far less time.
The tracking is also useful for the Professional Development Department’s own use. “Now we’re starting to track the leadership development side of it, so not only will we be able to track that it’s aligned to our Florida standards for teachers, but also whether they are taking any additional leadership development opportunities.”
Easy to Use
Heather’s team also trained staff at each school site to be “Frontline Liaisons,” teaching them how to submit professional development sessions, use the professional learning catalog, ensure that data is entered correctly for reporting purposes, and handle staff registrations and attendance. This, she said, has been a game changer, saving the staff a huge amount of time and giving each school site ownership of professional development “They’re the ones who are managing their in-house professional development. Anything districtwide we still maintain, but anything school-based, they now are empowered to do on their own.”
This also helps individual teachers easily navigate the system. “Because of the Frontline Liaison trainings, now our staff understands, ‘Here’s how I check my transcript, and here’s how I see how many points I have, and here’s how I can upload transcripts from another school district.’”
A One-Stop Shop
Heather said that before, it felt like her team was trying to piece everything together, but now with Frontline, it runs like a well-oiled machine.
“It’s a one-stop shop. I feel like our staff now has a place where they can go online, they can take their own training if they want. They have the opportunity to do their own learning at their own pace if they want. They can find consistent, custom content. They can go in and register, check their transcript, track their in-service points.”
“What Frontline has helped us do with our teachers is really enhance professional learning. It’s really the catalyst for how teachers are going to grow, which is going to help our students grow.”
All of this means that Heather and her team can spend more time getting out into schools, more time with teachers in one-on-one or group work to explore questions of practice. “We’re able to now spend time doing the work in the schools, the actual professional learning piece, because we have instructional coaches in our department and we support schools. We’re here to serve kids at the end of the day and in order to serve kids, we serve the teachers. If we get too bogged down in that technical piece, we don’t get to spend our time with the teachers, with the administrators. So making it more efficient gives us the time to do the actual work that we do.”
That end goal, student learning, is always the north star at MCSD. “What Frontline has helped us do with our teachers is really enhance professional learning. It’s really the catalyst for how teachers are going to grow, which is going to help our students grow.”
About Frontline Education
Frontline Education is a leading provider of school administration software, connecting solutions for student and special programs, business operations and human capital management with powerful analytics to empower educators. Frontline partners with school systems to deliver tools, data and insights that support greater efficiency and productivity, enabling school leaders to spend more time and resources executing strategies that drive educator effectiveness, student success and district excellence.
Frontline’s broad portfolio includes solutions for proactive recruiting and hiring, absence and time management, professional growth, student information systems, special education, special programs, Medicaid reimbursement, school health management, inventory control and asset management, payroll, benefits and financial management, and analytics solutions that help district leaders tap into their data to make more informed decisions for the benefit of their students and communities. Over 10,000 clients representing millions of educators, administrators and support personnel have partnered with Frontline Education in their efforts to develop the next generation of learners.
Learn more at www.FrontlineEducation.com