Near East South Asia - Council of Overseas Schools

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January 25-26, 2019
Venue: American International School
Chennai, India

Joellen Killion

Senior Advisor to Learning Forward (former Deputy Executive Director).

Full Bio

JOELLEN KILLION is Learning Forward’s senior advisor and served for many years as the association’s deputy executive director. As senior advisor, she leads initiatives related to the link between professional learning and student learning.

She has extensive experience in planning, design, implementing, and evaluating of professional learning at the school, system, and state/provincial levels. She works with coaches, principals, district and state leaders to facilitate and support standards-based professional learning that advances educator learning.

She is the author and co-author of numerous books and articles about professional learning. Her most recent books include The Feedback Process: Transforming Feedback for Professional Learning (2015), Taking the Lead: New Roles for Teachers and School-based Coaches, 2nd edition (2017), and Assessing Impact: Evaluating Professional Learning, 3rd edition (2018).

Institute Description

Communities of Practice

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 two-day 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 be invited to share how they are implementing 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: Teachers, teacher leaders, learning leaders, PLC facilitators, team leaders, administrators, coaches.

Continuum Levels: 1, 2, 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. Examine the infrastructure of several communities of practice that establish the ways they approach their work to achieve results for members and students.
  3. Identify common challenges associated with implementation of communities of practice and generate approaches to handling the challenges.
  4. 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 institute.

Advance Prep/Prerequisites

Participants who are interested in implementing or are implementing communities of practice are encouraged to bring their successes, challenges, and questions.


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 Practice Handout