By using the term, “professional development”, the first thing that pops in our mind is a formal process such as a conference, training, or workshop. However, professional development can also occur in informal settings, such as a discussion amongst colleagues, independent reading or research, observation of a colleague’s work, or other ways of learning from peers. This is the main idea behind the Learning Communities, introduced by the USAID Readers are Leaders Project. The Learning Communities are the safe space for teachers and student support staff to participate in exchanging ideas, experience as well as practice on the early literacy and numeracy subject. An assigned mentor has the responsibility in leading the process of learning, in each community.
Learning Communities go beyond the borders of their school and transform into a wider, regional network for peer-learning. The power of the Learning Communities is in their simple, yet sustainable model, largely relying on peers as a source for professional development and improvement of the teaching practice.
The project published a handbook with all materials and resources needed to establish and maintain a learning community within a school. The handbook is available in Macedonian and Albanian language (click on each language to download a PDF version) and the Foundation Step by Step is offering support and guidance for all schools interested to establish their own learning communities.