Connected Arts Networks Project – Professional Learning Communities

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Learn more about opportunities for PreK-12 teachers to apply (starting September 2023 – see the timeline below) to participate in NAfME Connected Arts Networks Professional Learning Communities:



The National Association for Music Education (NAfME), in partnership with the National Art Education Association (NAEA – grant project lead), the Educational Theater Association (EdTA), and the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) is launching Connected Arts Networks (CAN), a five-year grant initiative to create nationwide virtual Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) with educators in visual arts, music, theater, dance and media arts. The overarching vision for CAN is to build a sustainable model of professional learning for music and arts educators to strengthen their pedagogy, instruction and leadership skills in order to better serve students. This project is modeled after the successful structure of the PLC program in New York City, initiated by the Office of Arts and Special Projects (OASP), another partnering organization.

  • As part of year one of this multi-year project, NAfME recently recruited an outstanding group of music educators to create a national professional learning community of Teacher Leaders. (Similarly, the other grant partners, NAEA, NDEO, and EdTA, recruited teacher leaders for their respective disciplines). This initial PLC of Teacher Leaders is receiving specialized virtual training in the coming months to build their capacity to address diversity, equity, inclusion, and social-emotional learning within music instruction, while also emphasizing the importance of leadership skills, teacher professional development through PLCs, and standards-based instruction.  Each Teacher Leader will facilitate their own virtual PLC of music educators starting in January 2024.
  • Starting in September 2023 (see below for a timeline and details), NAfME will recruit additional PreK-12 music educators throughout country to take part in virtual music education PLCs representing diverse schools, communities, and regions nationwide, including PLCs representing elementary, middle, and high school levels.  


  • Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) (Note: NAfME uses the term Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access – DEIA)
  • Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • Teacher leadership in standards-based music and arts instruction and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)


  • To develop highly effective arts educators, building their capacity to address ED&I and SEL in their standards-based music and arts instructional area through sustained, intensive, and job-embedded blended professional learning.
  • To develop a local and national cadre of Teacher Leaders in the music and arts by building their content knowledge and leadership skills in order to expand the impact of music and arts learning for students and their communities.
  • To develop accessible music and arts-based instructional materials, strategies, and toolkits to disseminate to educators nationwide, including synchronous and asynchronous professional development programs and digital resources.


If you are interested in applying to join a PLC contact and

In Fall 2023 each national partner association will select 150 arts educators to serve as members of their Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). If you’d like to receive notification when the application opens, complete this form offsite link with your name, art discipline, and contact information.

The application for National CAN PLC participants will open in September 2023.


  • Peer mentorship and community network of ongoing support
  • Quarterly virtual workshops with national content experts
  • Potential bi-annual virtual classroom visits with peer arts educators, depending on availability and scheduling
  • Professional development hours to utilize towards your local professional development needs
  • Annual professional development certificates to recognize participation in the program
  • Complimentary NAEA membership (or affiliated association) for each year of involvement in CAN
  • Opportunities to contribute or be featured in publications such as magazines, newsletters, website, blogs and/or professional journals
  • Opportunities to present at webinars, podcasts, town halls, and/or local or national conferences and conventions

Timeline and Commitment

  • Mid-September 2023: Applications go live
  • Late October 2023: Application deadline
  • Late November 2023: Arts educators are selected
  • Mid-December 2023: Onboarding process
  • January 2024:
    • CAN Orientation for new arts educators
    • Monthly PLC Meetings, 2 hours in the evening, dates will be set by PLCs
    • Four Quarterly Workshops annually led by content specialists