NISD Professional Learning Framework


Professional Learning Framework Background

Strategic Goal 1 for Northwest Independent School District states that Northwest ISD will design dynamic learning experiences to ensure that all students are future-ready learners. Preparing students for the next level of learning is crucial for ongoing success of students. This Professional Learning Framework outlines Northwest ISD’s professional learning opportunities and expectations for all educators in the district. The framework differentiates expectations for new educators and returning NISD educators and between courses and contents. The framework also outlines expectations for specific contents as well as for special populations. All NISD employees are expected to follow the framework within the time guidelines specified. Medlin.jpg

The Professional Learning Framework, in conjunction with your T-TESS appraisal, Self-Reflection and Goal Setting documents, will serve as a guide to help educators determine individual learning plans and professional learning goals. At educators’ end of year T-TESS conference, educators will discuss their professional learning goals and determine flex day plans for administrator approval.

Strategic Goal 2 states that Northwest ISD will recruit, develop, retain, and recognize an exceptional, highly motivated staff to optimize student engagement and learning. The Professional Learning Framework supports this goal by outlining job-specific professional learning experiences that will support teachers’ professional goals and improve student performance.

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District documents such as the Profile of a Graduate, Profile of an Educator, District goals, and the NISD Instructional Framework are also examined to determine additional professional learning focuses.

Courses are designed to build capacity and content knowledge, as well as professional practices and pedagogy for the current positions of all educators. A needs assessment of professional learning is completed each year using quantitative assessment data, as well as qualitative data that is collected from administrators, district officials, and

Professional Learning Team (PLT)

NISD strives to create premiere professional learning opportunities for professional and paraprofessional staff. The Professional Learning Team (PLT) is comprised of over 100 NISD teachers, librarians, counselors, administrators, instructional coaches, coordinators, and other district staff. Experienced, skilled, and passionate individuals were selected through an application and interview


process. They make up an integral part of fashioning an outstanding professional learning system for NISD.

The PLT conducts a professional learning needs assessment by reviewing our goals, district data, and current professional learning offerings. PLTs use the results from this assessment methodology to determine their suggestions for a well-rounded professional framework. From these suggestions, professional learning modules are established, which aim to satisfy the demands of all teachers, courses, and contents.

PLTs are trained in professional development strategies that enhance professional learning sessions. They work in teams to both revise existing professional learning modules as well as create new ones. In the development phase, PLTs are collaborating closely with content coordinators. Professional learning modules are presented by our PLTs during the summer, our ENGAGE conference, and throughout the school year.

Professional Learning Philosophy

Student success is dependent upon the instruction, interactions, and experiences with which they are engaged in the classroom. Northwest Independent School District provides educators with professional learning opportunities that provide educators with the necessary tools to create classroom environments that are student-centered and focus on student learning and success. NISD believes that all educators will benefit from continued professional learning that is engaging and designed around student, staff, campus, and district needs and goals. IMG_6949.JPG

Professional Learning is enhanced when it is driven by student, educator, campus, and district needs. NISD also supports collaborative learning through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), so that educators benefit as a collective whole while learning with and through one another. PLCs occur at the grade, department, campus, and district level.

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

Northwest ISD values collaboration with our teachers and believes that effective PLCs will have a strong positive effect on student achievement. PLCs help to improve student achievement because PLCs focus on improving instruction by the teachers. Effective PLCs focus on student learning by looking at student work, teacher work, student data, and developing a plan on how to respond to that information.

In PLCs, teachers should reflect on their own their students’ work. Looking at student work is the backbone of the PLC work because that is the compass of student learning. It is powerful when the teachers can look at the same task from classroom to classroom to look for alignment to the standard and alignment from classroom to classroom. These discussions should lead teachers to discussing how instruction may need to be modified or discussing interventions strategies to support student learning. PLCs should happen at the district, campus, team and/or grade level. No matter who is involved in the PLC, the focus must continue to be on student learning.

Teachers should also reflect on their own work in PLCs. Teacher work might include looking at lesson plans or assessments that have been created to discuss possible instructional strategies to best meet the needs of the students. Teacher work might also include observing each other in the classroom to reflect on teaching strategies.

Looking at student performance data is extremely important to ensure students are making progress. Teachers should reflect on their data with their teams to look for trends and next steps. It is important whether looking at student work or student data that teachers determine next steps to support students when the data is positive or shows challenges. Teachers must be open and honest in their conversations in their PLCs. When looking at next steps, teachers may engage in book studies or other professional learning opportunities to support their own learning. IMG_1140.JPG

In Professional Learning Communities at Work: Best Practices for Enhancing Student Learning, Rick DuFour and Robert Eaker have identified four PLC questions that frame and focus the work of PLCs.

  1. What do we expect students to learn?  
  2. How will we know they are learning?
  3. How will we respond if they do not learn?
  4. How will we respond if they already know it?