My Community of Practice aka C.o.P
Being a Reflective Learner
This year marks my 10th year of being a faciliator of learning /teacher in Social Studies department. It was inevitably that I have had to demonstrate a reflective approach within my own teaching practice. When I started, the New Zealand Curriculum Draft (2007) was being introduced and encouraged teachers to explicitly demonstrate, Teaching as Inquiry (Ministry of Education 2007) Inparticular Learning Inquiry involved encouraging the teachers and students to explicitly share eveidence of student voice and be reflective, constantly looking back and ways to improve in their future teaching and learning (Hull University, 2014) For the last 3 years I have been an Assistant Head of Depatment of a small and robust Social Studies department I am constantly reflective in my own leadership, sharing with the unique staffing dynamics within my department and wider school Professional Develoment communities such as eLearning Committee, Adaptive teaching Committee. To a certain extent, reflection in ones practice has to yet to be fully implemented by all staff.
There are two types of reflection there is “descriptive and reflective ” . Hull University (2014) suggest that for reflective writing to be truly reflective the thoughts and feeling need to be eplored “Thoughts during it, after it and since… about how you feel, are you comfortable and confident about it” (Knox, B. 2009) Furthermore the following 3 questions need to also be explored
- So what?
These questions challenge some of the important ideas and concepts rather than just consider at a descriptive level and tend to be quite surface.
Community of Practice aka CoP
Since reflecting on my own CoP I realised that I belong to multi generational groups and in each group my role is primarily to be a Team player and a Life Long Learner. Each person brings something to add value to the existing structure and plans that have been developed. In doing so the opportunity to improve ones reflects and works to improve their own teaching practice.
A CoP is a “group of people who share a common concern, a set of problems, or interest in a topic and who come together to fulfil both individual and group goals”
I belong to several CoP which include:
- My School
- My Department
- Year 9 group form teachers
- Professional Development interest groups within my school (e.g.
- Students (including their whanau, aiga and kainga )
- Social media (Instrgram, FaceBook pages and recently a wordpress.com blogger)
- Mindlab (July 16 intake)
- South Auckland Geography Cluster group
- New Zealand Board of Geography Teachers (NZ BoGT) Auckland
All of these CoP are connected to education. Our department approach is encouraging students to demonstrate their understanding of key concepts which at times are abstract. However the The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa are the guiding documents that together form the national curriculum for New Zealand schools.
The social sciences are one of eight learning areas described in the curriculum, and social studies is the foundation, integrating subject for the social sciences at years 1 to 10.
The Building Conceptual Understandings in the Social Sciences (BCUSS) series includes:
- Approaches to Building Conceptual Understandings (PDF 555KB)
- Approaches to Social Inquiry (PDF 5.7MB)
- Social Inquiry Planner
- Belonging and Participating in Society (PDF 3.4MB)
- Being Part of Global Communities (PDF 5.1MB)
derpins all work, units, courses and assessments (Ministry of Education, 2007)
An integral part of workable CoP is the interaction between the teachers in the department. The shared passion and ability to reflect openly about ones teaching and classes allows for opportunities for students to be innovative and creative during the lessons.
Having these robust discussions reinforces how we are connected, it allows us to see that my views are considered and valued by others but also that they care, and that they have ideas are no longer abstractr but concrete and students can fully describe and explain key Social Studies concepts. It is important that by the end of the lesson students are “participating in an informed, active, critical and responsbile student” New Zealand Curriculum(2007)
As a team player everyone needs their roles and reponsibilities to be clearly described they need to consider how issues within the CoP can be resolved and work collaboratively . Issues have been dealt in respectful manner and everyones is given an opportunity to voice or they are able to write. As a result of a small department it is important to share and ensure that everyone is aware of the school vision, department aims and expectations are kept high and always reflecting because there is always room for improvement.
Knox, B.(2009, December 4). Cultivating Communities of Practice: Making Them Grow.. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhMPRZnRFkk
Ministry of Education.(2009). Teaching as Inquiry. Retrieved from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Curriculum-stories/Case-studies/Teachers-as-learners-Inquiry/Teaching-as-inquiry
SkillsTeamHullUni. (2014, March 3). Reflective writing.. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoI67VeE3ds
Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.