The Annual Cycle of a Community of PracticeSubmitted by Stephanie Whalen, Academy Chair, English & Interdisciplinary Studies

The Community of Practice (CoP) program at Harper has an annual cycle that guides CoPs to create shared ownership for their collaborative learning experiences and ensure that learning translates into action by outlining planned assessment efforts and defining the group’s approach to sharing their work. The cycle begins with each CoP presenting an Action Plan draft to the Academy through a brief presentation and discussion at Action Plan-tasia in the fall (September). This year’s Plan-tasia will be held on Friday, September 6 and Monday, September 9 and offers each group 10 minutes to share their ideas and 5 minutes for discussion. This format allows Academy leaders to provide feedback on each CoP’s Action Plan and consider any funding requests. As part of the improved action planning process, each CoP will also have the opportunity to identify a workshop that meets their needs and schedule it with the Academy for their group. New CoPs begin with “CoP Formations: Establishing Roles and Norms,” and continuing CoPs choose from “Aligning Action Plans and Agendas,” “Productive Discord in Discourse,” “Measuring Impact through Action Research,” or indicate the need for a custom workshop topic. Focused professional development provides an opportunity for each CoP to receive quality support for their experience as they implement, assess, and disseminate their learning. At the end of the cycle, the annual Share-ousel in the spring (April) provides all CoPs an opportunity to showcase their work for the year through a poster session in which attendees rotate around the room at timed intervals and and give and receive feedback on one another’s ideas and artifacts through a feedback grid. This event includes lunch and music and offers the CoPs a chance to celebrate their work and continue to generate and refine ideas with their colleagues.

For any CoP that is going to be active next year, please hold Friday, September 6 as the date for new and returning groups to pitch your Action Plans. Action Plans should be completed together as a CoP, but only one or two members of the CoP need to present the Action Plan–although more members may be helpful for discussing your proposal. If your group cannot attend on September 6, we have provided some time on Monday, September 9 as an alternative. Just like last year, we are providing you with an Action Plan template to complete in advance with a description of your planned activities and budget requests for 2019-2020. We will ask you to submit Action Plan drafts to the Academy via email to no later than Wednesday, September 4. During your allotted time, you can either share your Action Plan via the document camera and/or share slides on the projector to present your ideas.

Please open the Plan-tasia sign-up sheet for a time slot on either Friday, September 6 or Monday, September 9. The new Action Plan template is available online here. Please note: is it different this year, so please don’t revise one from a previous year. If your CoP would like assistance completing it, just let us know.

To those of you currently or previously involved in a CoP–thanks for being a part of the CoP program! Please contact us at or with any questions or concerns.