Encouraging Participation

How can I keep my Professional Learning Community active, thriving and an exciting place for my teachers to learn, grow and collaborate?

Professional Learning Communities can be wonderful and exhilarating places for teachers to grow, learn and collaborate. Communities that meet regularly face-to-face have that built in ability to encourage participation — but his can be a little harder to maintain in online communities. Here are some tips to help keep your community actively collaborative and thriving through members’ participation.

Create an environment of trust:

  • Involve all members in developing goals for the community. (Check out previous tip)

Eliminate confusion:

  • Make sure they understand the purpose of your community, what they will gain through participation.
  • Make sure they are clear on how they community works — this will illuminate frustration by members which can lead to lost participation.

Create productive dialogue/Make Learning Interactive:

  • If your community is local, try to have monthly or at least a few face-to-face meetings a year with the group so that they have opportunities to meet in person.
  • Have a way for them to post short bios, their interests, curriculum ideas, teaching environment profiles, and maybe even a picture.
  • Have a place to teachers to post questions, ideas or things that they might want help with or to collaborate on.
  • If you are a remote community — Use discussion boards or live chats or set up a listserv for your community to talk to each other with on a regular basis.
  • Create a space where teachers can share resources and discuss how they have used them.

Have teachers share what they are doing on a regular basis:

  • Give them the opportunity to ask each other questions
  • Allow for brainstorming sessions with the community participants
  • Have a show-and-tell about projects or successful learning strategies that they have had with their students or at their school.

Give constructive feedback and support as a facilitator

  • Make sure that there is a way for your community members to receive feedback and encouragement — if these are done constructively it can go a long way to keep you members happy and engaged!

Submitted by:
Trena Noval, eCoach

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