My Professional Communities

Child centered education?

Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice

Who are the stakeholders in my professional community? In what ways do they influence my practice?

The two main stakeholders in my professional community are the students in my classes and the teachers I work with. Both communities overlap as the effective teaching of the one depends on my successful collaboration with the other. Each community extends outwards to encompass others including families and local communities.

My entire practice is geared towards achieving success for students.  The reason I enrolled with the Mindlab course, in fact the reason I am writing this blog,  in fact the reason for everything I do as a teacher is so that I can improve my practice and better meet the needs of students.  However, historically students have been passive members of this community.  My aim in future is to make them active participants.

What are the core values that underpin teaching?

Teachers subscribe to the core  values outlined in the NZ curriculum. We have a common desire to raise student achievement and prepare students for life in the 21st century.  Without belief  in these values, teaching would be an empty exercise. Because we share core values and the same domain of interest (teaching and learning) we are able to come together in genuine ‘communities of practice’  in order to share ideas on how to improve.  (Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner, 2015)

Less clear is whether students share these values and subscribe to the same domain of interest?   Doing so an important step that needs to be taken if students are to become active participants in learning and integral members of communities of practice.  Lave (1991) views the act of joining such communities a key goal in education.  Unfortunately,  learners have often felt like outsiders.  The reason, however, is not due to a lack of belief in the curriculum values, but rather, as Lave (1991) suggests,  the nature of our present education system with its ‘institutionally mandated forms of commoditzed activity’  (p.79).    Lave also argues that the system creates students who have  have ‘negatively valued identities’  (p.77)    Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner (2015)  make it clear that if students are to join communities of practice, they must be able to see them as relevant and feel that their participation is worthwhile.

What are the challenges?

The key challenge is the successful implementation of formative assessment practices in my teaching. In order for this to happen,  I need to activate learners as instructional resources for each another and as owners of their own learning Wiliam, Dylan (2011).   If this can be achieved, it might be possible to simultaneously create the environment needed for students to become active members of communities of practice.   Students, for example,  in the role of  peer reviewers will be actively participating  in education.  They will be ascribing to the same domain of interest as teachers and by educating others they are participating in a community of practice as committed members.  These communities focus on people ‘and on the social structures that enable them to learn with and from each other’  (Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner, 2015).  Students need to be in these communities not outside of them.

Formative Assessment is not a new concept, but it hasn’t been successfully implemented in the majority of classrooms  (Flórez, & Sammons,, 2013). Perhaps one reason for this is the fact that formative assessment has rarely been applied in communities of practice involving students as key participants.  I intend to see what happens when students become active agents at the centre of such communities.

References

 Flórez,, M. T., & Sammons,, P. (2013). Assessment for learning: Effects and impact. CfBt Education Trust.

Lave, J. (1991). Situating learning in communities of practice. Perspectives on socially shared cognition, 2, 63-82. Retrieved from http://www.ecologyofdesigninhumansystems.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Lave-Situating-learning-in-communities-of-practice.pdf

Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand curriculum: Values. Retrieved from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/The-New-Zealand-Curriculum/Values

Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015, April 15). Introduction to communities of practice. Retrieved from wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/

Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedding formative assessment [Kindle]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Embedded-Formative-Assessment-Dylan-Wiliam-ebook/dp/B005ISU2AC/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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