Defining my Community of Practice
In trying to define my community of practice I started with a look at Bruce Knox’s video Making them Grow and will be honest and say I had a very limited idea of what exactly constituted a community of practice at the outset. I had heard the term bandied about and had experienced a number of professional scenarios whereby someone had attempted to insist I “must know about communities of practice”. A little more digging and it seems the term applies in almost any group setting and has been attributed to the workings of street gangs and groups of civil servants. There are also various analogies in existence that attempt to make the term accessible and applicable including the idea of places of knowing in a landscape of practice; none of which I have to say, resonated with me.
I do however consider myself a professional, I am passionate about teaching and learning, and I am interested to know how I can do my job better and I interact regularly with colleagues to help make the process of learning easier and more enjoyable for my pupils. Which I gather is the real benefit of a Community of Practice.
For me the most useful definition is:
A community of practice is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. (here) and this is something I can identify with.
In terms of defining my community of practice, I have decided to use the idea of the three key areas proposed by Knox (2009).
The domain is obviously the education of pupils aged between 11-13 years of age. I currently work as an intermediate Science and ICT teacher in an independent co-educational school with a roll of around 800 pupils. The school follows the Cambridge International Educational (CIE) curriculum.
Defining my community is far harder, as a Dean I interact regularly with Senior Management in terms of Pastoral care and the systems the school has in place. I currently work alongside one other teacher with shared responsibility for the Year 7 and 8 Science programme and we are in constant dialogue in terms of how the science and ICT programmes run, we in turn liaise across the school to ensure transition and progression. We have a strong Science faculty who regularly contribute to share resources and informed discussion and meet fortnightly.
As a lead teacher in charge of developing ICT for learning across the school, I provide professional development for all teaching staff in both the Junior College and Senior College. This role increasing requires we to stay abreast of developments in this area and I have become a member of a number of online learning communities to help me facilitate these ideals.
In terms of the practice, an ever-evolving resource base comes out of this interaction. Currently, we are implementing Microsoft Class Notebooks across subject areas and there are resources and training materials that have developed as a direct result of both the in-house discussions and the interactions I have had online; particularly within Yammer and the Microsoft in education group.
Knox, B. (2009, December 4).Cultivating Communities of Practice: Making Them Grow.. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhMPRZnRFkk