College of Science and Health > Academics > STEM Studies > Research & Externally Funded Programs > Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice

CPS logo
CME Group Foundation logo
DePaul logo

Funded by the CME Group Foundation, Communities of Practice (CoP) are a collaborative effort between the CPS Department of STEM and the DePaul University STEM Center that leverages and expands upon the learning of the first cohort of teachers who completed the Elementary Math Specialist (EMS) Coursework. The two-year program runs from 2019 through 2021. Research has found that engagement in high-quality, sustained, mathematics-focused professional development is a critical tool for achieving the potential for expert instruction with EMS teachers.

The goal of the CoP is to provide EMS Cohort 1 teachers with the opportunity to:

1. Further develop strategies and resources pertaining to high-quality mathematics instruction in order to better support the implementation and sharing of learning at the school level.
2. Collaborate with colleagues around high-quality mathematics instruction.
3. Deepen their understanding of and readiness for their role as mathematics leaders within their schools.

How has this program changed teachers’ instruction? 

Participants say they are “giving students time for ‘productive struggle’”, providing students with “more hands on opportunities to learn math”, developing lessons that focus on “more exploratory student-facilitated learning”, and implementing “more student discourse.” Communities of Practice events include:

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) 
PLCs build upon the learning in the coursework by engaging teachers in collaborative activities designed to refine their own practice as well as build their capacity as instructional leaders at their schools. PLCs are attended after-school by the EMS Cohort 1 teachers. 

Math Team Learning Communities (MTLCs) 

MTLCs promote trust through the development of collaborative practice with a focus on building and sustaining cycles of professional learning at the school level, particularly through public practice. MTLCs are attended after-school by the EMS Cohort 1 teacher, their administrator, and an additional P-5 teacher from each school. These school teams will have the opportunity to collaborate across schools through the sharing of ideas and plans. 

For more information about the Communities of Practice, please contact Alanna Mertens at