Sunday, 21 February 2016

My Community of Practice

"Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice" (Link) - this blogpost addresses some ideas around my own community of practice.

"Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly." (link)

My community of practice is made up of the educators within HPSS, and also outside observers and teacher-friends who are keeping a keen eye on what we are doing. Our core values lie within establishing and maintaining a student-centred focus to our practice, as well as trying to enact change on a larger scale, to model how teaching and learning can be done differently, but with equally good outcomes for students. Therefore our largest stakeholders are our students and their families, but to a lesser extent we also want to show that our approach has value to other educators. This also means we hold ourselves accountable for trying new strategies, amending and changing when things don't work perfectly, and always striving to create positive experiences for our students alongside high personal and academic achievements.

What are the current issues/challenges in your community? How would you or your community of practice address them?

I believe that some current issues relate to evidencing around personal and academic success in relation to the different approaches we take. All of our teachers at HPSS make anecdotal remarks and observations about the high level of achievement and success that many of our students are making, in comparison to our collective prior experience at other, more traditional schools. However, as we are yet to have a full cohort run through the full spectrum of NCEA, we likely have detractors outside of our community that value only one facet of evidence, which we currently don't have. I feel that we collectively need to continue documenting the progress that our students make - in a passive, objective way, simply presenting examples of work that our students produce. Many of our educators are active bloggers, and this is a way of presenting what we are doing to the outside world. Observers outside of our school know that we are doing things differently - we need to be visible in showing them how and why (which I believe we are already doing reasonably well).

What changes are occurring in the context of your profession? How do you think you or your community of practice should address them?
"If we’re not just trying to teach factual recall like we often did in the past, what are we trying to do? Well I guess we’re trying to teach higher level skills. We’re trying to teach critical thinking. We’re trying to teach synthesis, analysis. We’re trying to raise a generation that are cleverer than we are." (Teaching for 21st century learners)
For communities of practice that are trying to shift the way that we approach education to best support our current learners, the onus is on them to maintain a voice and momentum for change. We are constantly critically evaluating our curriculum at HPSS, and refining approaches in response to student and staff feedback, however we also need to ensure we don't become too introspective and insular, and continue to look outside of our own practice.

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