- What are the challenges that you face in your community of practice? How would your community of practice address them?
Our current challenge is that as a successful CoP with a stable staff how do we continue to show dimensions of progress (Wenger, 2000) without becoming habitual in our actions?
Enterprise: We have identified through observations and assessment results that we do not need ongoing PD in maths, reading and writing so have moved into more individualised programmes to support teachers individual interests (TESSOL, Post grad in Maths, Mindlab, Te Reo papers). These choices have been made through gaps and interests identified in teacher/principal interviews. The Mindlab option keeps the school open to new directions and ideas.
Mutuality: I feel this is probably our area to develop further. We are working much more collaboratively and with increased dialogue within innovative learning teams but I don’t know if that transcends across all staff yet. When we do have whole staff meetings (twice or three times a term) our focus has been to work across teams and encourage everyone’s voice to be heard. The aim being that everyone gives and receives help from each other therefore strengthening relationships. We need to look at other ways to create collaborative networks across the school which celebrate learning and encourage the teachers to talk about expectations. This could be encouraging teachers to run inquiry topics between teams and then sharing student outcomes.
Repertoire: Because we are a rural school and 139 years old, there is a lot of history in our buildings, photos, prizegiving trophies and in the traditions that are upheld. We will continue to have open communication with our community about how traditions, like calf club, can continue when so many new houses are built around the school. Within our group of teachers, we must also reflect on the skills, traditions and language we use within our practice. Hattie (2013) talks about the ‘collective teacher efficacy’ which refers to the teacher’s belief that they are change agents and that they have a direct impact on student learning. We do this in our student progress meetings, usually completed in teams, which focus on how deliberate acts of teaching will impact on student learning. These conversations aim to have staff looking inward at their own practice rather than using a deficit model to look at the students. I would like to see these become part of the everyday language in the class rather than teachers needing to be reminded to complete them each term.
- What changes are occurring in the context of your profession? How would your community of practices address them?
The biggest change in our profession is the move towards ILE new builds and the change in pedagogy towards more innovative practices (Osborne, 2016).
My CoP started this process by asking our parents (as part of a school curriculum redesign) what skills and values they wanted our students to gain while they were at our school. The ideas whanau came up with then became our 4 Values and 5 Qualities of Learning. By listening to our community we knew that their vision for their children was to be collaborative, critical thinkers, good at communicating etc, but we weren’t actioning this in the classroom whilst we taught using traditional methods.
As a leadership team we have created a plan to help guide teaching staff into ILE teaching and learning. This is individualised depending on the needs and wishes of the teachers. Some of our staff are on Mindlab now, while the remaining staff will come on board in the next intakes – always in groups so they can collaborate and share ideas.
We have planned school visits (in fact I went with my Junior team to Te Kowhai Primary today) and really focussed on challenging our teachers with those devil’s advocate questions
(This came off the back of looking at the PISA 2012 tables which highlighted the large discrepancies WITHIN New Zealand schools not between them)
Hattie, J. (2011). Visible Learning for Teachers. Retrieved from http://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/
Osborne, M. (2016). Innovate Learning Environments. Retrieved from http://www.core-ed.org/thought-leadership/white-papers/modern-learning-environments
Wenger, E.(2000).Communities of practice and social learning systems.Organization,7(2), 225-246