Giving Compass’ Take:
• Communities of practice are useful for developing principles’ skills to building relationships and leading other educators.
• The author suggests that strong communities of practice will foster peer-to-peer learning and collaboration. How can education donors support these critical practices and encourage information-sharing?
• Read more about why teacher professional development should be personalized.
When it comes to professional development for principals, one size does not fit all. James Hilton Harrell, a doctoral student at Harvard University, explained in an article for Edutopia that principal-focused professional development should offer blended leadership models so that principals can take away practices that they are able to sustain at their own schools, despite individual school cultures.
Harrell points out a few key categories to develop in communities of practice, including relationship building, which is a critical skill for school leaders. It is also important for leaders to set aside time and space to come up with long-term solutions to problems rather than just quick fixes.
Strong communities of practice also embed time for reflective thinking and peer-to-peer collaborations. Collecting and sharing resources on problem-solving ideas specific to the district can help leaders overcome obstacles, such as racism.
Ongoing professional development not only supports educators and their leaders; the exposure to best practices also benefits the students. Professional learning communities (PLCs) are one way to achieve this, but it means giving teachers time to work together as a team.
Communities that including project-based learning open opportunities for teachers to apply their professional development into a classroom lesson and then bring the results and data back to the group to compare and contrast.
PLCs give educators a chance to see their peers in action. While there may be some time to chat about best practices during collaboration time before or after school, rarely does a teacher get the opportunity to watch a peer in a way that allows them to learn new ideas. And allowing principals to visit each other’s schools can keep them from feeling isolated and allow them to pick up strategies that work for their schools.
Read the full article about communities of practice by Shawna De La Rosa at Education Dive.
K-12 Education is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
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In addition to learning and connecting with others, taking action is a key step towards becoming an impact giver. If you are interested in giving with impact for K-12 Education take a look at these Giving Funds, Charitable Organizations or Projects.