Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College (MLFTC) developed an active approach to character formation known as the Principled Innovation (PI) Framework. At the core of the Framework are Moral, Civic, Intellectual, and Performance character assets demonstrated and developed through eight character practices implemented as an approach to teaching, culture, and community. To integrate PI more deeply within MLFTC’s systems and processes, we propose engaging and evaluating communities of practice (CoPs) as a vehicle for implementing the PI Framework.
While PI has been an implicit component of MLFTC’s CoPs, now is the time for us to make this connection and integration explicit. We will engage eight CoPs of about 75 MLFTC faculty and staff total. Seven will be organized by institutional contexts with five centering on operational, curricular, or administrative concerns and two focused on the broader faculty constituency. A Meta CoP will be composed of leaders from the other CoPs and the Director of PI. The Meta CoP will be an organizational “hub” for cross-pollinating character-centered innovation. We worked with evaluation consultants Drs. Urban and Linver and Mrs. Jane Buckley of Montclair University to create a pathway model and evaluation plan. They hold expertise in character-education assessment, which will be instrumental while we engage the CoPs, implement the evaluation plan, and disseminate our findings.
We anticipate that as faculty and staff engage in the CoPs, PI will be integrated into learning environments, MLFTC students’ learning related to PI will deepen, they will understand the relevance of PI to their teaching, and PI will be enacted in PK-12 schools. Assessing the relationship between CoPs and PI will provide unique insights into character formation and enable us to make adjustments before scaling. These insights could impact thousands of students, educators, districts, communities, and character research.