Venue: The American International School of Muscat, Oman

Joellen Killion

Senior Advisor to Learning Forward (former deputy executive director and president).

Full Bio

JOELLEN KILLION serves as senior advisor to Learning Forward, after serving as the association’s deputy executive director for many years and as its president. She contributed to the development and implementation of state policy by creating and facilitating the use of practice guides in several states and in overseas, international, and American schools in multiple countries.

She consults with schools, school systems, and state education agencies in the areas of coaching, professional learning, communities of practice focused on learning as a means to collaboration, effectiveness, and efficacy, leadership, and evaluation of professional learning.

Dr Killion’s books include Assessing Impact: Evaluating Professional Learning, 3rd edition (2018); Taking the Lead: New Roles for Teacher and School-based Coaches, 2nd edition (2017); The Learning Educator: A New Era in Professional Learning (2006); Becoming a Learning School (2009); and Coaching Matters (2012).

She is the author of numerous papers, workbooks, and articles on policy and practice related to professional learning to support educator and student learning.

Institute Description

Communities of Practice: Advancing School, Educator, and Student Success

Schools consist of multiple communities of practice working simultaneously. These communities exist as grade-level or department teams, school divisions, school committees, professional learning communities, and other formats. Educators recognize the power of collaboration, desire more of it, and are benefiting from an increase in designated time for it, yet they are sometimes disappointed that what happens within a community is not as easy or purpose-driven as they imagine.

This institute builds on participants’ current experiences within communities of practice and examines the principles and infrastructure of communities of practice that focus on student learning driven by educator learning. It offers an approach to strengthening and refining existing work within schools that falls under the umbrella of communities of practice to align the work communities undertake more closely with the core principles of communities of practice to achieve results for the school, division, individual members, and most importantly, students.

The principles emphasize authentic problems of practice, professional learning, investigation, inquiry, experimentation, assessment using evidence from implementation, and ongoing evaluation of effectiveness.

Too many communities have insufficient infrastructure, interpersonal capacity, and facilitation to engage members in effective interactions and work that leads to their own or their students’ success. When these elements are missing or weak, communities collapse into groups of individuals who engage in parallel play, and consequently, uneven results for students and superficial levels of collaboration.

In addition to exploring the infrastructure and principles of effective communities of practice, participants will learn how the American Community School Abu Dhabi [and other schools] have implemented communities of practice, the successes and challenges they have experienced, and how they have met some of the common challenges.

Participants will have opportunities to identify their current implementation of communities of practice and identify how to refine and extend their work based on what they are learning within the institute.

Target Audience: Coaches, grade-level and department chairs, teacher leaders at all grade levels.

Continuum Level: 3

NESA's Learning Continuum:

Learn more about how NESA plans Professional Learning


Participants will. . .

  1. Use a set of core principles to assess their current level of implementation of communities of practice.
  2. Explore next actions to refine and extend their use of communities of practice based on their assessment of their current level of implementation and their learning within the session.
  3. Identify common challenges associated with implementation of communities of practice and generate approaches to handling the challenges.
  4. Examine the infrastructure of several communities of practice that establish the ways they approach their work to achieve results for members and students.

Advance Prep/Prereqs

Participants who have experience facilitating or participating in learning communities will benefit most from this institute.

Those who have experienced both success and challenge in establishing communities of practice and who want to refine the community's work so that it results in school, educator, and student success, are willing to identify and address challenges, and who want to be more effective as facilitators are encouraged to bring their problems of practice to this institute.

Please bring your laptop/tablet to this workshop for viewing handouts.


Save paper and effort where possible!

For your convenience, and to support our efforts in being "green", all handouts/files posted here have been notated with an A, B, C or D indicating the following:

(A) hardcopies needed at workshop
(B) electronic version on laptop is sufficient (for viewing during the workshop)
(C) required reading PRIOR to the workshop
(D) file not needed for workshop itself, but simply material of additional interest/reference

(B) Community of Learners

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