The Value of Statewide Communities of Practice in Math and Science Education
When COVID-19 shut down schools in 2020, the transition to virtual learning didn’t come easy. Most classroom teachers had never taught via online video, and providing the kinds of professional learning and logistical support needed for that transition was also new territory for many education leaders.
In California, however, two communities of practice — one of math experts and the other of science experts — quickly mobilized to create a collection of online resources to keep the pandemic from stalling the critical task of providing equitable, high-quality instruction for all students. Whether a third-grade teacher needed an online lesson on fractions, or a district team needed training on how to select materials aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the communities provided resources and guidance to bolster math and science education statewide.
These two communities of practice have been underway since 2015 and represent expertise from across the state, including curriculum and instructional leaders from all of the state’s 58 county offices of education. When the pandemic hit, they pooled their members’ time and energy to make sure K–8 teachers continued to have access to strong math and science lessons whether teaching in person, remotely, or in a hybrid model.
“There’s no way that one county office or even a couple could have accomplished that,” says Nathan Inouye, science coordinator for the Ventura County Office of Education. County personnel are often unaware of what their counterparts across the state are doing, so to reach the level of collaboration needed for developing and providing effective resources statewide, they had to build relationships with each other over time.
Posted on October 5, 2021