Examining the “Icons” of the Professional Learning System: A Springfield Story

The Professional Learning System for Collaborative Literacy (PLS)

The Professional Learning System for Collaborative Literacy (PLS) provides the support needed for Collaborative Literacy implementations that improve teacher practice and student outcomes. The PLS Leader’s Guide describes the rationale for the recommended sequence of professional learning and details the resources for teachers and leaders included with the system.

Grounded in the belief that professional learning activities can be conducted in a range of settings to support all forms of ongoing learning, the PLS was designed to build capacity and expertise within each school and throughout the district. The PLS is a valuable resource for instructional coaches charged with planning for and engaging in ongoing coaching and learning experiences.

The combination of the PLS Leader’s Guide, meeting and session agendas, tools, handouts and other resources offers a foundation for assessing the learning needs of teachers across the school year, reflecting on previous teaching practices, supporting new practices, and troubleshooting common struggles.

Springfield Public Schools’ Experience with the PLS

In Springfield Public Schools, the Instructional Leadership Specialists (school-based coaches) wanted to learn more! We wanted to know how the guidance offered across phases of an implementation could support our coaching system. Recently, we had the opportunity to examine the PLS through that lens and realized that though the system of professional learning was offered in a linear approach across phases, our use of the system would be more circular and fluid.

PLS Phases:

  • Pre-implementation
  • Launch
  • Early Implementation
  • Winter/Spring Implementation
  • Reflecting on Year 1
  • Planning for Year 2 and Beyond
  • Ongoing Professional Learning

Why circular and fluid? Because we realized that even in a Year 2 implementation (and beyond), we have teachers who are new to the district, who are new to a grade, and who have varying learning needs. We realized that some teacher practices were new, others needed to be refined and still others needed to be implemented with integrity. With this new learning, we came to the conclusion that we would be utilizing multiple chapters of the PLS concurrently to meet the various needs of our teachers.

Icon Remember Chart

In order to understand—as a coach and learning community—the extensive resources in the PLS and how they can serve our circular and fluid needs, we decided to activate both sides of our brains by making an “Icon Remember Chart” for each chapter of the PLS. Knowing that we can process information in pictures, I asked the coaches to:

  1. Think about the small pictures on your mobile phone (icons).
  2. Consider that each picture represents an app that has a specific purpose.
  3. Examine a chapter of the PLS as a team and determine the key learnings, resources, and tools offered in that chapter. (Since chapter 7 focuses on ongoing professional learning, the charts dedicated to that chapter were to focus on different Collaborative Literacy programs.)
  4. Create a pictorial representation or a “small picture” that represents the chapter.

After completing this work, we were invited to share our thinking with each other as well as with the entire Collaborative Classroom Community.

Take a moment to review the charts. Each represents the “icons” of that PLS chapter. What do you notice about each chapter? How might what you notice support your practice?


The icons that were most important to the Springfield Instructional Leadership Specialists were:

  • Support for planning and engaging in PLCs with grade-level teams
  • Information about the different implementation stages at each grade level
  • Focus on resources that can be used for planning and assessment
  • Reflection tools (Fall, Winter/Spring, End-of-Year) to gather information on the learning needs of teacher

We hope you find this way of accessing and studying the information in the PLS valuable. Try it at your next professional learning session so you can say, “Icon remember the important points in each chapter of the Professional Learning System.”

Chapter One


Chapter Two


Chapter Three


Chapter Four


Chapter Five


Chapter Six


Chapter Seven Focus: Being a Reader


Chapter Seven Focus: Making Meaning


Chapter Seven Focus: Being a Writer


Chapter Seven Focus: All of Collaborative Literacy