Communities of Practice…… what?
“Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavor” (Wenger-trayner.com, 2015).
What are the core values that underpin your profession?
In accordance to the New Zealand Curriculum, the values that the teaching profession uphold are as follows;
- innovation, inquiry and curiosity
- community and participation
- ecological sustainability
(“Values / The New Zealand Curriculum – NZ Curriculum Online,” n.d.)
I am going to focus on two of these values. Within our school, we have a strong focus on creating lifelong learners and global citizens. To create these types of students, I urge a strong sense of innovation, inquiry and curiosity– these three factors give students the ability to remain curious about the world and have the drive to continue their learning throughout their life. We allow the students to lead the learning and dig deeper into what fascinates them.
There are many cultures within our school and within each year group. This range of diversity gives our students the chance to explore different cultures without leaving the country. My practice reflects this by encouraging all my students to embrace their culture, exploring the similarities, differences and celebrate this in class.
What are the challenges that you face in your practice? How would you or your community of practice address them?
My biggest challenges in my practice is ensuring that I am able to have a voice heard my colleagues and that my students respect me as an educator.
Gaining confidence to speak in front of a group of other educators is something I continually work on. “Developing an identity as a member of a community and becoming knowledgeably skillful are part of the same process, with the former motivating, shaping, and giving meaning to the latter, which it subsumes” (Lave, 1991, p. 65). As I gain motivation to contribute to the staff, my knowledge and confidence increase. The community of practice, in this case the extended staff of the school, are inviting and encouraging of all to share. Ideas are bounced off each other and discussions stem from the conversation.
Students respecting my authority and respecting me as an educator is a big part of the challenges that face me as a beginning teacher. I faced a big learning curve in my first class, having 27 children and only a small handful of these had behavioural needs. I have always thought that ‘jumping in the deep end’ is the best way to learn, and I learnt fast. My immediate colleagues were extremely supportive in offering advice and physically supporting me if necessary.
What changes are occurring in the context of your profession? How do you think you or your community of practice should address them?
The biggest change occurring in the education system in New Zealand at the moment is the move to the online world and collaborating with your colleagues. As an individual I am embracing the online collaboration and paperless world. As a community of practice, the school is taking small steps towards moving into a collaborative and online school.
As described by Wenger in the video “Walking the Landscape of Practice,” (n.d.), it is your choice with whom you join in the acquisition of new knowledge and learning. This makes you accountable for your own actions and information. The people who you meet along the way with the same goals are the community. These people change as you change your own pathway. The community in our school is making the pathway for teachers and staff to easily make the move into the cloud.
Lave, J. (1991). Situating learning in communities of practice. In L. Resnick, J. Levine, and S. Teasley (Eds.), Perspectives on socially shared cognition.[ E-reader version](page 63-82). Retrieved from http://www.ecologyofdesigninhumansystems.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Lave-Situating-learning-in-communities-of-practice.pdf
Values / The New Zealand Curriculum – NZ Curriculum Online. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2016, from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/The-New-Zealand-Curriculum/Values
Walking the Landscape of Practice. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2016, from https://app.themindlab.com/media/9262/view
Wenger-trayner.com. (2015). Introduction to communities of practice | Wenger-Trayner. Retrieved from http://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/