It is imperative to provide educators with opportunities and forums to share their expertise and explore areas of shared interest in order to inform and improve their practice. Creating these “Affinity Groups” has the potential to minimize teacher isolation and meaningfully impact student achievement. This is already happening at some schools, like the Maurice J. Tobin School in Mission Hill, Roxbury, where teacher designed and led professional development has become the norm. The ultimate goal is expansion to a district level through an effort led by the Boston Teachers Union and Boston Public Schools PLAB (Professional Learning Advisory Board). This work has the potential to bring together the district, union, and teachers in an unprecedented way around the common goal of relevant and deeply impactful professional development. In these Affinity Groups, educators establish the trust that sustains a commitment to shared responsibility and the continuous renewal of practice that directly benefits students. There is a hunger and a need for these close knit communities of practice, as evidenced by the highly successful Professional Learning Conference held at the BTU last June and scheduled again this year.
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