Just north of Rochester on the edge of Lake Ontario, Greece Central School District has been serving students in New York since 1928. With over 11,000 students and 3,700 teachers and staff, Director of Professional Learning Marguerite Dimgba oversees the district’s professional growth.
In 2008, Greece Central was using an antiquated database system to track professional learning (PL) for teachers and staff. The process was cumbersome and expensive, says Marguerite. “We had several people manually entering each class, manually putting in payments.”
It took still more work to type out handwritten feedback forms. The twice-yearly catalog listing professional learning opportunities was time-consuming to produce and was quickly outdated, so extra loose flyers had to be distributed when new offerings were added. Plus, printing was expensive.
Teachers also found the old system frustrating. A backlog of emails and communications around PL was the norm. Twice-a-year reports about credits and payments for professional learning were frequently inaccurate, and teachers often had to wait for reimbursements.
The solution: Frontline Professional Growth
“I can’t imagine my life without Frontline Professional Growth. (I really mean it!)”
— Marguerite Dimgba Director of Professional Learning, Greece Central School District
To address those challenges, Greece Central chose the professional learning management tools (formerly MyLearningPlan PDMS) in Frontline Professional Growth, used by over 1300 districts to manage PL online and track impact in the classroom. Greece Central was particularly drawn to the choice of learning that the dynamic online catalog in Frontline Professional Growth allowed them to offer teachers, as well as the online planning and approval process for learning opportunities.
“Greece Central chose Frontline Professional Growth because we did a lot of homework — we certainly didn’t choose it on a whim,” says Marguerite.
What it looks like at Greece Central
Easier and faster
With Frontline Professional Growth, Marguerite says that professional learning at Greece Central is now much more efficient to manage. Their PL catalog is online and up-to-date. Teachers have more choice in their learning, and gone are the days of paper registration sheets and endless hours spent entering data. Tuition reimbursements and conference requests — which in the past were requested through paper forms — are automatic as well, reducing errors. Marguerite has found that Frontline Professional Growth is more cost-effective than what Greece Central was doing before.
A more thoughtful process
But Frontline Professional Growth hasn’t just made managing professional learning easier, it’s made it better. Marguerite says that the software has made for a more thoughtful process all-around. Previously, teachers would send a paper form with the courses they wanted to take. Now, an automatic proposal and approval process encourages teachers to ask, “Does this course make sense for me, given my role?”
Frontline Professional Growth also encourages instructors and curriculum directors to plan more thoroughly in advance. By requiring PL offerings to align to district goals, objectives and New York state standards before being added to the catalog, Greece Central is able to offer more targeted learning than it had in the past.
Better tracking and accountability
For Marguerite and Greece Central, learning extends far beyond professional learning days. With Frontline Professional Growth, Greece Central is able to track — and give credit for — a much wider array of learning opportunities, from staff meetings and shadow days to job-embedded collaborative learning like mentoring, professional learning communities, collegial circles, curriculum writing and group events, as well as outside learning such as conferences and college courses.
Although these types of learning aren’t new to the district, Greece Central now has a way to ensure that such learning aligns with district goals. The process is more overt, and participants are more efficient and conscious of how learning supports them in reaching their individual objectives.
Frontline Professional Growth also helps Greece Central track the PL hours each teacher completes. This allows the district to use professional learning as evidence within evaluations. It also increases buy-in from educators for whom 100 hours of professional learning every five years is a certification requirement, as well as new teachers who have a mentoring requirement. While ensuring that teachers stay on track to meet their requirements and reporting the necessary information to the state may be a painful ordeal for many districts, for Marguerite it’s now much more efficient.
Using the automated workflows, dynamic catalog and robust tracking and reporting in Frontline Professional Growth, Greece Central is able to continually support educator growth through ongoing, job-embedded professional learning — with minimum hassle and maximum effectiveness.