Communities of Practice (CoP)

What is a CoP?

A Community of Practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a common concern, set of challenges, or interest in a topic and come together to fulfill both individual and group goals by sharing best practices and developing new knowledge. 

According to Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, CoPs typically have three defining elements: 

  1. The domain of interest is the subject matter that binds the community together.
  2.  The shared practice is the activity that members of the community engage in to further their understanding of the domain.
  3. The community of learners is the group of people who are involved in the shared practice.

START currently facilitates several CoPs in the areas of Coaching, Early Childhood, Peer to Peer, Practical Functional Assessment and Skill-based Treatment, Secondary Transition, and Sexual Health. CoP groups meet live and virtually.

Benefits of a CoP

CoPs provide members with opportunities to learn from one another and to develop a deeper understanding of the shared domain. In many cases, they also serve as support systems, providing a sense of belonging and social connection (McKinney, 2022). CoPs may serve as a “think tank” for the development of ideas and new approaches and they are often a wellspring of resources gathered from the CoP members and disseminated both within and outside of the group. 

Why CoPs?

As a statewide project, START is highly invested in the development of CoPs since they are a way for school professionals and other stakeholders to join in an effort to expand their learning within a community, tackle challenges, and generate strategies to improve the ways we educate and create opportunities for students with higher support needs.

Page last modified September 5, 2023