More on Communities of Practice

My introductory post briefly defined Communities of Practice (CoP) and over the past few days I’ve had time to reflect on a specific CoP.  A CoP is not just a community, it involves a group of people who share an interest, a passion – and who interact, learning how to do things better.  The purpose of the CoP is to create, expand and exchange knowledge. It provides a forum to develop individual capabilities.  The Community enables shared inquiry and knowledge.  The Domain provides a sense of belonging and the development of relationships.  Practice encompasses the body of knowledge, where learning together takes place.

Identifying my Community of Practice

I hadn’t realised just how many communities I belong to.  As posted earlier I had thought of the cultural responsiveness community which has just begun in our school.  I then thought about the Technology Learning area which I lead.  However, I realised that there is another group of passionate teachers who belong to HETTANZ (Home Economics and Technology Teachers of New Zealand).  This group has history and has been active since January 1985, with an executive, regional representatives, corporate members, life members and association members.  HETTANZ is a subject association to which I have been a member since 2003.  Within this group the three elements include:

The Community, which consists of teachers who teach under the multi layers of Home Economics and Technology, as well as hospitality and early childhood education. The community is a national organisation with over 600 paid members (as individuals or school members, corporate members or non-fee paying life members).  There are five regional groups, each with its own chairperson, secretary and treasurer, along with its members.  The organisation is led by an executive group which consists of the President, the five regional representatives, Pasifika and Maori representatives and the past-president.  I am on executive as the past-president.  From time to time, teachers are seconded onto executive when an expert might be required.

The Domain encompasses the shared interests of teacher members who have a passion for Home Economics and Technology.  We also include in this domain ECE, Health and Hospitality.  We link together through google groups, through the HETTANZ Website  , and email, with a weekly newsletter going out to members each week.

The Practice of our community is on-going.  We share weekly, we correspond often, we have several means of contacting one another with our regions, branches, executive and nationally.  This CoP is all about sharing, supporting and learning.

Within the regions, branches organise meetings (at least once a term), visits to schools to support teachers, speakers, link from industry and other activities as suggested and available by its members.  Every two years there is a Professional Learning Programme and is organised by one of the main branches and is open to local, national and international Home Economics members.  Often there are reciprocal visits between New Zealand and Australia as well as further abroad for attendance at International Home Economics run conferences.  We also offer teacher scholarships each year to ensure there is also support to our members who want to research, up-skill and improve their learning.

The shared repertoire culminates in the development of resources which are shared with teachers, or have a small price to cover cost of publication, reference materials or classroom resources that are sold at a lower retail price, visits to schools as required, conference, seminar days and PD sessions with experts, discussions of the latest developments and trends in our learning area and teaching practice.

As immediate past-president I support the current executive and provide historical knowledge should it be required as the group move forward.  Looking at where we have been so we may move forward.  Changes are inevitable and this is a good thing, so we ensure that links to the constitution and the culture of the organisation are maintained.  HETTANZ seeks to be a professional and supportive organisation to its members, to provide a sense of belonging and affirming the fantastic work our teachers are doing.  HETTANZ can do this by allowing teachers to have a voice (and vice versa) so that ultimately we are able to support their teaching practice to enable student successes.

Nga mihi nui

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