Posted on JULY 10, 2014
Written by Karee Bilsky and Jill Abbey-Clark
We held hands in a circle, reminiscent of our days at camp, and sang, “Lechi lach, on your journey I will bless you.” Sixteen Jewish Early Childhood Educators from around the country had just completed the fifteen-month Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute (JECELI). We had engaged in intensive Jewish learning, inquiry and reflective practice, leadership development, and community building. The incredible learning experience was over and we sang these words in the hopes that the journey was not over, but rather just beginning.
The new task before us was to continue this meaningful experience by not only sharing our learning with our host institutions but also by deepening and strengthening the connections we had already formed. We were determined to continue our relationships, our community and our learning. We decided we would create for ourselves a COP (community of practice) among this tightly established group of educators that had formed in JECELI.
One year later, as we reap the rewards of the rigorous, relational, member-led Community of Practice we co-developed, we reflect on the key ingredients needed to create a successful online community of practice. We do this as we prepare to meet with JECELI’s new graduating cohort to assist them as they consider their own steps forward. Our message will be clear: this need only be the beginning. Here are the elements that catalyzed our success; we believe they offer a model for other cohorts seeking to continue meaningful work just when the formal program seems to be ending.