…let’s begin

This has been nerve wracking this blog thing but it is done now, set up and ready to go.  I look forward to researching, sharing, networking and most of all, using this portal to develop and improve my classroom practice and 21st century knowledge and understanding of learning and teaching in a digital and collaborative environment.

As a teacher I am involved in several teacher groups, including those set by our school to which we volunteer and dedicate much of our time to.  Within our communities of practice we collaborate for the good of each other so we may improve our practice in order to enhance student engagement and agency.  We work with our Senior Leadership team, Deans, Homeroom teachers, Department staff and support staff.  We also have our Professional Development groups and Network groups.  Currently I am a member The Premium Team PLG group.  We share our journey on Schoology and have covered such topics as Teacher Inquiry, Spiral of Inquiry, Growth Mindset, the flipped classroom and Self and Peer Assessment, to name a few.  We meet every fortnight for an hour and have been doing this over the past two years.

There is also the e-learning group which meets each week for an hour, where plans are made for ways to ensure access is available to all and resources are made known to teachers and students.  We have put together the eLearning policy and linked this to the school strategic and action plans.  We also have lead groups set up to work together on Cultural Responsiveness, Mentoring and Coaching (which is also part of the Eastern Learning Network and is combined with other East schools),

Outside of school there are subject association groups, HETTANZ, TENZ, TESAC, The Chefs Association, Regional and Local cluster groups, with each enabling communities of practice to flourish.   As immediate Past President of HETTANZ the google group forum allows for this community to share ideas and resources and to answer questions relating to teaching practice.

I am currently part of the Cultural Responsiveness Lead group and as a recent initiative for the school, following our 2017 ERO Report, it was one of the areas that needed attention.  While we are still in the planning stages (since start of 2017), student and whanau voice will be actioned in term 4 with implementation of the actions from the strategic plan in Term one, 2018.  Surveys will be delivered electronically and once results and data are collated and analysed, a hui will be planned to meet whanau, the wider community our students and teachers, together informally.

So what is Communities of Practice (CoP)?

When people engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain , where there is a passion for something they do and want to learn how to do it better as they interact, this may be termed a CoP.  However, three characteristics are important to a CoP, specifically – the domain (shared identity and competence), the community (relationships built pursuing the identified interest and engage in joint activities and discussions) and the practice (practitioners who share a repertoire of resources which we shall call shared practice).  These CoPs have existed for some time now, whether it be clubs, schools, organisations, tech groups or learning networks there exists a commonality of passion, of learning and of sharing, and holding the characteristics outlined in parallel of the domain, community and practice, that a community of practice develops.

Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. 
By Etienne Wenger, Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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