AIR Informs Episode #4: Communities of Practice During COVID-19

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What is a Community of Practice?
A community of practice is a group of people who share a common concern or passion for something they do, and they learn how to do it better as they regularly interact. Group members can connect in person, online, or a combination of both.

Even though the coronavirus pandemic has pushed interaction, learning, and professional development to online environments, that doesn’t mean these activities can’t be just as effective as they would be in person.

In this episode of AIR Informs, Melissa Rasberry and Marshal Conley discuss communities of practice and how they can help teachers connect. Here are a few ways communities of practice have evolved during the pandemic.

  • Educators are finding or creating their own communities of practice in this new environment of virtual and remote teaching. Teachers are not only using these communities to share practices, they’re coming together to socialize and reinforce the bonds they established in person. This aligns with best practices: a community comes together around a common need and the driving force emerges organically.
  • A community of practice can happen anywhere. Before the age of social distancing, communities that blended in-person and online collaboration tended to be very successful. Technology has changed over the past 10 years to allow for quality interaction online.
  • Educators are using a variety of communities to connect. This includes grade-level planning teams from their schools and national organizations for their content areas.
Learn more about the communities of practice AIR manages, CS for All Teachers and the State Support Network.
  • Social media—especially Twitter—is an important tool for educators seeking professional development and learning. Following specific hashtags allows teachers to connect with other teachers sharing similar interests or challenges. For educators looking for an online community, Jerry Blumengarten—known on Twitter as @cybraryman1—has compiled a comprehensive list of education-related Twitter chats.
  • Learning doesn’t need to stop when it’s not face-to-face. Technology has allowed for communities to expand in ways they haven’t before. Online communities will continue to be important even after the COVID-19 pandemic, including by serving as a way for teachers to share tools, discuss challenges, and socialize.