Sunday, 24 September 2017

Week 25 - Community of Practice

The main community of practice I belong to is the senior management team at my school. This includes all of the intermediate syndicate so includes that community of practice too. As a staff we are a community but not always a community of practice though. This community of practice is made up of 4 teachers and the Principal. Year 8 teacher(myself), year 7 teacher, year 5 teacher and NE-yr 1 teacher.
The 3 elements that make a community of practice are ‘joint enterprise, mutual engagement and shared repertoire’ (Wenger, 2000).
The key aspects of joint enterprise for our community of practice is that we are the leaders of the school and we all want to make the school the best place it can be. We are all passionate about our school and want to lead everyone else to see that too. We also all enjoy supporting others and communicating everyone’s opinion and coming to a common understanding that will be best for the school. We have all have a good understanding of the strategic plan for the school and the vision for the future so we all work together to achieve this the best we can.
For our community of practice we engage together through regular meetings to discuss any needs in the school at the time, also for strategic planning. These happen two to three times a term. As we have joint enterprise we often have informal discussions regularly as a whole group or two or three of us from the team. These happen everyday and help to keep us all on the same page and work together all of the time. We are also all in regular email contact too. As 3 of us are doing mindlab and one of the other members has done mindlab we often communicate and engage about assignments, issues and anything that has come up through mindlab too.
Through our regular interactions we have a ‘shared repertoire’, this comes through all of our different teaching experiences, teaching levels and own personalities. We all bring something different to the table but from our respect we have developed through our community of practice we are able to create a shared understanding and work from each others strengths and share responsibilities with each other too.
I feel like our community of practice is welcoming and everyone belongs and is connected to one another. My role in this community is a mix of things depending on the situation and my expertise and experience in different areas. I am definitely an active member who shares regularly, I am also a leader (especially with maths, science and student centered learning). With more technical and Ministry focused aspects I play a more passive role. I feel that I am contributing a lot to my community and my growth through mindlab and other leadership experience has helped me to do this. As I am the youngest member I offer a different point of view on some issues too.
This has made me think about some wider communities of practice. One that I see is very powerful in New Zealand is the New Zealand Teachers (Primary) facebook page . Teachers have the same ‘joint enterprise, mutual engagement and shared repertoire’ (Wenger, 2000) as they ask for help and communicate about important issues.

References:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhMPRZnRFkk - clear metaphor and explanation that helped me to understand more about a community of practice

Wenger, E.(2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization,7(2), 225-246.

1 comment:

  1. Its interesting with the SLT. We have the formal, strategic-type meetings which are so important. Sometimes in the day to day running of things its hard to find time to have that long/wide view and we can put it off for more pressing matters, but if we don't have it, as a team we end up running in circles, not knowing why we're running - or running in directions that make sense individually but not to the school as a whole. Also as I've been doing these Mindlab entries I've thought a lot about trust and how its been instrumental in the many principal's conversations that have been part of establishing our COL over the last year. Its the same on the SLT - trust builds over time and personal trust - knowing its OK to make a mistake, or not understand, or push too hard, or not enough, or whatever - is important for all team members. It takes the hard yards to get to that point. I think our SLT has done that. As you said, the informal part of what we do is where it really tells. I thought the impromptu meeting where we sorted through some grainy problems and came up with some answers (the year 8 breakout room) was really indicative of a sense of established trust and respect that enabled us to find a good way forward. Its all part of that forming, storming and norming process that learning communities go through.

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