• Professional Learning Overview


    Plano ISD will cultivate a culture that empowers and supports all staff through collaborative, innovative, reflective learning.


    Professional Learning is a reflective and continuous growth process where learning extends into practice, positively impacting student success.


    PISD specifies three distinct purposes for professional learning, all linked to increasing student achievement:

    • Individual growth and development
    • Team, department, and school improvement
    • Program implementation of districtwide initiatives

  • Standards for Professional Learning

    Learning Forward provides Standards for Professional Learning to describe the conditions, content, and processes for professional learning that leads to high-quality leading, teaching, and learning for students and educators.

    The 11 Standards work within a framework to outline a system for professional learning. To create high-quality professional learning that results in improved educator practices and improved student results, educators apply the 11 standards in concert. For more information about Professional Learning Standards click here.

    The three categories within the framework follow:

      • Standards within the Transformational Processes frame describe process elements of professional learning, explaining how educators learn in ways that sustain significant changes in their knowledge, skills, practices, and mindsets.
      • Standards within the Conditions for Success frame describe aspects of the professional learning context, structures, and cultures that undergird high-quality professional learning.

  • Learning Designs

    Plano ISD provides professional learning in a variety of different designs. Regardless of format, audience, or topic, all professional learning activities should

    • have clear learning targets and objectives
    • connect to student learning, well-being, or overall success
    • include participant reflection and application
    • create space for participants to learn from and with each other

    Professional Learning takes a variety of forms that are differentiated based upon preferences of adult learners, role-related needs, and the nature of the learning. Models of professional learning include the following: 

    • Learning with Peers is a set of learning designs consisting of groups of educators that meet regularly, share expertise, and work collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of all students.
      • Collaborative Team Framework: Teams use the Collaborative Team Framework to work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve.
      • Critical Friends Groups: A unique form of collaborative learning in which team members commit to improving their practice through structured interactions (protocols) around solving dilemmas, creating shared understanding, generating new ideas, and refining products.
      • Communities of Practice: Educators work together to identify or unite around a common problem or issue that they will work to collectively solve. Communities of Practice are flexible structures that allow educators to connect with one another and build community as they work through the cycle of continuous improvement. 
      • Text/Book Studies:  A small group committed to reading, discussing, and applying strategies from a selected book or selection of articles.
      • Workshops: An in-depth, interactive session in which participants work intensively to gain knowledge, methods, and skills to directly impact their practice. 
    • Learning from observation takes place through observing the behaviors and practices of others for various purposes. Many high-quality resources use the terms “learning walks” and “instructional rounds” interchangeably. For the purposes of creating a common language in Plano ISD, we will be operating under the definitions found below, where learning walks are primarily performed by teachers, and instructional rounds are performed by campus and/or district leaders. None of these learning designs are evaluative in nature.
      • Instructional Rounds: Informal, non-evaluative peer-to-peer observations focused on specific instructional practices.
      • Learning Walks: Through multiple observations, campus and district leaders develop a shared understanding of what high-quality instruction looks like and discuss what schools and the district need to do to support that instruction. 
      • Shadowing: The process of following a student or educator through one day, part of a day, or longer to experience what that person experiences. 
    • Online professional learning is intended to extend beyond the physical walls and time constraints that often limit collaboration. Though the specific designs and formats for online learning often look different from traditional face-to-face experiences, the quality of the learning should be consistent with all other learning designs.
      • Webinar: A seminar, or other presentation, that takes place online, allowing participants in different locations to see and hear the presenter, ask questions, and sometimes answer polls. Webinars can take place synchronously or can be recorded for later viewing. 
      • Twitter Chat: A pre-arranged discussion that happens on Twitter through the use of tweets that include a predefined hashtag (such as #pisdlearns) to link those tweets together in a virtual conversation.
      • Online Course: Online courses provide participants with all the learning and resources of a traditional workshop combined with the flexibility that web-based learning provides. Online learning has the potential to provide differentiation of pace, path, place, and modality based on learning goals and preferences.
      • Online Community of Practice: In a community of practice, educators work together to identify/unite around a common problem or issue that they will work to collectively solve. “Communities of Practice” are flexible structures that allow educators to connect with one another and build community as they work through the cycle of continuous improvement.

    Although valuable for other purposes, the following do not align with the Plano ISD definition of professional learning and development:

      • Meetings that do not include a learning outcome or goal
      • Student practices, rehearsals, or performances
      • Compliance Courses (SafeSchools)
      • Events (ie. Convocation, Teacher of the Year Gala, etc.)

    • PL Best Practices and Agendas

      When designing and delivering PL, try to think of your favorite PL experiences that you’ve had as a learner. A good goal is to design PL that you would appreciate as a participant. Here are some best practices to keep in mind.

      • Learning Objectives: Good professional learning has clear learning objectives that are communicated to participants and progress toward those learning objectives is evaluated throughout, both formally and informally.
      • Agenda: Plan out your PL opportunity with the learning objectives in mind. Professional Learning experiences and Collaborative Team Meetings both have thoughtfully prepared agendas that keep the conversation moving forward. We recommend agenda building using infinitives, which keeps the activities aligned with the purpose. Click here to download a sample agenda templateCreate an agenda and plan the timing for each piece, ensuring that your participants are actively engaged in the learning process.
      • Norms: It is important that we establish standards of engagement and behavior expected from those participating in the learning. As adult learners, participants will respond best when they have the opportunity to set the ground rules for their experience. If you cannot set these expectations together during the training, we recommend presenting pre-determined norms at the beginning of each training to ensure an engaging and productive in-person or virtual learning experience.
      • Processing and Discussion: Your participants need a lot of time to process their new learning. Give them space to ask questions, apply the new information to their work, and discuss with their colleagues. Here are some low-preparation strategies  for engaging adult learners. 
      • State Change: Include opportunities for “movement” that shifts the physical and/or mental states of your participants. While a state change can be an actual structured activity, it does not have to be (i.e. listening to discussing, individual work to group work, sitting to standing, etc).
      • Slides: Don’t crowd your slides with a lot of words. It is better to spread your content across more slides. And remember an image is worth a thousand words. Your participants can read or listen, but they can't do both at the same time.

    • Using Protocols

      Protocols can facilitate conversations with equity of voice and a focus on student needs. You can use an existing protocol (like the ones found on the School Reform Initiative website), or you can customize or create your own protocol to meet a specific professional learning need. Good protocols have a system to make sure everyone’s voice is given space to be heard, and keeps the goal or purpose firmly in mind.

      Here are some protocols that we have found to be effective and meaningful when properly facilitated..

    • Building Slide Decks

      A well designed slide deck can improve engagement and lend credibility. The following sites offer templates designed by professional graphic designers, which can be easily customized to meet your needs.

      It is important that the photos and graphics in your presentation are licenced for use in your presentation. Using a copyrighted image without permission could put yourself or the district at risk of legal liability. The following sites offer royalty-free images. As always, it is appropriate to give attribution to the original artist.

    • Professional Learning Requirements

      All employees should model the philosophy of lifelong learning and participate in professional learning activities that focus on continually updating their knowledge and skills in their content areas/field, best practices, research, and technology relevant to their roles in Plano ISD.

      • Professional development at the district level is determined by district initiatives along with state and federal guidelines.
      • Campus/department professional development is based on alignment with the district mission and goals, campus/department needs and on improving instructional/operational practices.

      Trade Hours: In addition to the district and campus designated Professional Learning days, some employees will be required to earn 15 Professional Learning Trade Hours that you will use in lieu of working two contract days. These hours must be earned outside of the regular workday or on non-contract days. For additional information please check out the Trade Hour FAQs. Employees who are scheduled to work on the Trade Days will need to earn these hours. Check with your supervisor to see if this applies to you.

      Professional Learning Requirements for All:

      • Yearly Compliance Training: Each year Plano ISD, in accordance with state and federal guidelines, provides compliance training for all staff members. Each staff member is responsible to complete the required training by the deadline and retain certificates for verification. 
        • Compliance training is not trade-eligible.

          Professional Development Requirements for Teachers: As the largest group of employees in PISD, teachers play a critical role in the academic success of each student. Because of this responsibility, specific professional development requirements have been established to ensure that the District maximizes resources to support teacher professional learning.

          • Plano ISD Board Policy:  All teachers are expected to earn 30 professional learning clock hours every “professional development calendar year” (See DMA Local). These hours are provided through campus and district designated days, are data informed and have specific learning targets and outcomes.
            • A “professional development calendar year” is defined as the first day after the close of the school year to the last day of the following school year.
            • These hours are trade-eligible if the learning occurs outside of the regular workday.
          • Gifted and Talented Training: All teachers serving GT students in a core content area are required to complete a 30-hour initial training and then a 6-hour update each year.
            • GT training is trade-eligible if the learning occurs outside of the regular workday.
          • Dyslexia Training: Dyslexia training is required for educators who teach students with dyslexia and must include new research and practices in educating students with dyslexia.
            • Dyslexia training is a part of compliance training and is not trade-eligible.
          • Science Safety Training: All new to Plano ISD secondary (6th-12th grade) science teachers are required to complete safety training prior to the first day school or working with students.
            • Science Safety training is a part of compliance training and is not trade-eligible.
          • State Board of Education (SBEC) Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Requirements Each individual who holds a Standard Certificate is responsible for renewing the certificate. The rules adopted by the Board for renewing certificates are codified at Title 19, Part VII, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 232, Subchapter A, and are available through the Texas Education Agency (TEA) web site (http://www.tea.state.tx.us).
            • Classroom teachers must complete 150 clock hours every five years
            • Counselors, Librarians, Principals, Superintendents must complete 200 clock hours every five years
            • These hours may be trade-eligible only if the learning occurs outside of the regular workday.

      • PowerSchool Development

        PowerSchool Development is the district’s professional development management system which allows access to employees to register for Plano ISD’s professional development and training opportunities. Staff can browse the catalog for the activities that will enhance their professional/job skills or search the catalog to locate specific activities recommended by their supervisor or principal. Plano ISD utilizes PowerSchool to 

        • standardize the process for tracking and reporting professional learning
        • designate groups and categories in a concise manner to assist team members in their searches for professional learning offerings
        • facilitate the transfer of professional learning hours via the import/export of portfolios
        • house and facilitate online professional learning

        Documentation: Tracking professional learning hours is a shared responsibility. Employees are encouraged to maintain their professional learning transcript, which can be managed through PowerSchool Development. Click here for instructions on viewing your transcript.

        • Attendance for all face-to-face professional learning activities will be entered into PowerSchool within one week of the event.
        • Online courses will be marked complete at least once per month.
        • Sign‐in sheets are the official record of attendance for all courses in PowerSchool Development and electronic copies of all sign-in sheets will be kept (through Google Drive) for three years following the professional learning activity.
        • Credit will not be granted to anyone who has not signed the course attendance sheet.
        • If you do not see credit for a course you attended, please contact your course facilitator.

        Managing Professional Learning Activities: Each employee is responsible for course registration through PowerSchool Development. Click the links below for instructions.

        Note: Courses may be canceled if enrollment is less than 10 participants.