Develop a legacy plan
Most communities of practice will be time-limited. For many individuals participating in the community, this access to targeted resources, expertise and professional conversations will lead to significant shifts in thinking and practice that will continue to influence them long after the community has ended.
Developing a legacy plan can dramatically enhance the return on investment of a community of practice initiative. It can be way of ensuring that the collective knowledge generated through the work of this community is made available to and benefits the broader community.
Continuing the commitment
One way to do this is to create opportunities for participants to document their commitment to continuing their professional learning and sharing their knowledge with colleagues and others. Below is an example of how one Literacy for All community of practice invited participants to articulate their commitment to sustaining and growing the work of the community.
Building system capacity
In the Learning for All community of practice participating teams committed to implementing follow-up capacity building activities for each of their school jurisdictions. These activities targetedplanning template a variety of audiences including teachers, school leaders and other jurisdictional staff. Participants used a common planning template and had several opportunities to discuss their plans during online meetings.
See the following description of the types of proposals for capacity building activities that resulted from these community conversations.
Sharing collective knowledge
Another strategy for creating a legacy is to consider how new knowledge can be collected throughout the project to be shared with the broader community. The Alberta Regional Professional Development Consortium has taken on this key role for a number of communities of practice they have facilitated. They have made it a key priority to systematically gather data during the lifespan of the community, and then use this data to create robust online resources that are freely available to educators across the province, and beyond.
Spread the word
An important component of legacy planning is to identify key audiences and make sure they are aware of and have easy access to the collective knowledge created by the community of practice. As a community is wrapping up, consider sending emails to school leaders and jurisdictional staff acknowledging the work of participants from their school or jurisdiction, thanking them for their support, summarizing the results of the community, reinforcing how this new knowledge will benefit other teachers and students, and directing them where to go for further information about the work of the community.