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Communities of Practice Beginner’s Toolkit

A Community of Practice (CoP) is a group of individuals who share a common goal and passion or profession striving to improve practices or outcomes. In the education context CoPs come together regularly to share best practices, address problems of practice and reflect and collaborate to develop new knowledge to improve learner and educator outcomes. As a strategy to increase effectiveness, CoPs are higher functioning and achieve greater impact through sharing successes and solving problems collaboratively. 
This Communities of Practice Beginner’s Toolkit provides an introduction to a theoretical framework that defines CoPs and offers guidance for cultivating a CoP within a community of professional educators. We have also included “The Cookie,” a framework developed by the Lastinger Center for Learning to represent elements critical to the success of CoPs within the education context. In addition, we’ve included links to the SRI protocols that we find the most supportive when we are cultivating and facilitating CoPs.

The Cookie

The Cookie is a research-based CoP framework designed to support the cultivation of collaborative workplaces. In our work to create equitable education systems for teachers and students, the CoP Cookie framework consists of four key elements: content, conditions, processes, and structures. We use this framework to guide our work and inform how we refine our approach to contribute to educator and learner success.


In the practice of developing and engaging in a Community of Practice, the following protocols from the School Reform Initiative (SRI) are particularly helpful.


  • Atlas Looking at Data: Facilitates collaborative analysis of educational data
  • Consultancy: Helps one to think differently about a problem of practice by inviting multiple perspectives
  • Tuning: Invites feedback from a group about the alignment between a work sample and stated goals for the work
CoP Framework: The Cookie

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There are many resources to support engagement in Communities of Practice. The three articles below have been chosen to address theoretical underpinnings and a case study.


    *Articles can be accessed with a subscription to the publication. 


    Social Learning – A Framework
    Wegner-Trayner. (2015).