Early Literacy Tutor Professional Learning Framework

A Community of Support and Social Learning

Beyond practice-based professional learning and feedback and individualized coaching, we recommend that programs intentionally build a sense of community amongst their tutors, through social media platforms and in-person events. Programs we interviewed work to bring tutors together in-person when possible and in virtual spaces. These events serve a range of purposes, including connecting tutors to their communities and the mission of their organizations, further engaging them in volunteer efforts, and networking them with fellow tutors so that tutor-driven social learning can happen.

Use information in this chart for guidance on launching a community of support and social learning across several commonly used platforms.

Platform Community Building Instructions Cost Additional Resources
FaceBook Groups Instructions $0 (Free) FAQs
LinkedIn Groups Instructions $0 (Free) LinkedIn Help
Mighty Networks Video Demo $98/month FAQs
Tribe. Video Demo $49/month (Plus plan) Resources (scroll to the bottom of the page)


Video Demo

$100/month (Standard Plan)

Discussion Site

Vanilla Forums

Video Demo

Must reach out to Sales Team


Slack Video Demo $0 (Free version) Resources Library

One program described the organic planning groups that sprouted from these social networking spaces. Another noted the tremendous mental health benefits their tutors received because the intentional community built across the tutor community reduced tutors’ sense of social isolation.

In K-12 education up until the late 1980s, teaching was most often treated like a private, individual endeavor. Rosenholtz (1989) raised the importance of teacher collaboration to achieve shared goals when she found that schools with communities of supportive, social learning had increased teacher efficacy and commitment, which led to increased student achievement. The positive relationship between teacher collaborative learning and increased teacher focus on student learning has been found consistently across years; in some studies, increased student achievement has been found as well (Newmann and Wehlage, 1995; Vescio, Ross, and Adams, 2008; Reeves, 2010).

Consider learning from the following resources, from the fields of K-12 education and beyond:

  • Developing Early Literacy Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), from IES/NCEE’s Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast, is a seven page infographic that offers evidence-based guidance on the following questions: (1) What are the advantages of providing PLCs for educators in early childhood settings? (2) What do PLCs look like in early childhood settings? (3) What qualities should a PLC facilitator possess? and (4) What are some important considerations in developing early learning PLC materials?
  • ​​Wenger, E. (2014). Communities of practice: A brief introduction is a six page written summary of what communities of practice are, how they function, where the concept comes from, and where it’s being applied.
  • Teacher Participation in Video Clubs and Impact on Practice is a one-page overview of how video clubs are structured and how they influence educators’ ability to notice things of significance in classrooms. Boost Teacher Learning with Video Clubs is a first-hand account of how one teacher established and used video clubs to learn from fellow grade-level teachers.

A community of support and social learning is particularly important for tutors striving to enact a commitment to culturally responsive and sustaining education. Within a supportive learning environment, tutors can have space to critically examine their beliefs and assumptions about the world while also gathering support in aligning tutoring practices with the histories, languages and experiences of traditionally marginalized voices. Many organizations within and beyond education find caucuses or affinity groups useful learning environments for such work. To support your organization, learn from and adapt the Caucus and Affinity Group resources for Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color and for White People, sourced by Racial Equity Tools. This resource is a web page that defines and establishes the importance of caucuses and affinity groups and then links to other resources that can help organizations establish them.