“Since the beginning of history, human beings have formed communities that share cultural practices reflecting their collective learning: from a tribe around a cave fire, to a medieval guild, to a group of nurses in a ward” (Wenger, 2000).
Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015) describes communities of practice as 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. Looking at my own personal experiences of belonging to CoP’s in my professional practice. I would consider my team in my classroom, Whare Manaaki, as my main CoP. According to Wenger (2000) a CoP is usually defined by three main elements.
Retrieved from https://app.themindlab.com/course/release/2857-week-19-community-of-practice
Whare Manaaki is comprised of two teachers, six support staff and our SENCO. Our team has a shared understanding of our goals and what we are here for. Our main priority being our 18 students with a range of differing needs. We are able to learn from each other being the experts at different times and feed off each other by shared goals. We continuously have shred discussions and reflection on our practice with team meetings and throughout the day. Wegner (2015) states “having the same job or the same title does not make for a community of practice unless members interact and learn together”. I think this statement is so important to reflect on, are we working alongside or are we working together? Our lunch time discussions and our daily learning alongside everything else makes us a CoP that is vital in our development.
When looking at different inquiry questions I wanted to focus on the kids, the individuals and how I could make a question fit all the needs in my classroom.
- How can I integrate play based learning to develop transference of 21C skills into an authentic context?
- Are our reports meeting the needs of all stakeholders?
Joint venture- My colleagues and staff in my team, Whare Manaaki, who strive for the best for our children in our class. Changing the curriculum and format of assessment to work for the individuals in our classroom. Our team are constantly looking at ways we need to adapt the curriculum to work for the individuals. Ministry of Education professionals such as SLT and Special Ed specialists.
Mutual engagement- Regular weekly team meetings and daily discussions with staff. Meetings with outside professionals who give us advice on a fortnightly basis.
Shared repertoire- Sharing information, suggestions and research. Observations and presenting outcomes to senior leadership and rest of school community.
Children in Whare Manaaki may never achieve to Level 2 in the curriculum and continuously may look like they are well below. By altering the way we deliver content and using more play based hands on learning we can begin to develop 21C skills and redefine the most relevant skills for the individual. As a collective we were sick of seeing our children ‘failing’ on our reports, it wasn’t relevant to the individual. We need to stop lumping children into one box as it doesn’t fit all. Bond, M. A., & Lockee, B. B. (2014) describes reporting and assessment for special needs should be a process that involves many important steps. Each step is crucial and provides the evaluator, parent, and IEP Committee with valuable information that will assist in making the best decisions for a student with a disability”. We need to work together to create and research how is traditional report formats working and is it meeting the needs of the individual.
“It is their right to learn that we must defend, not their right to learn in the same environment as everyone else” (Warnock, quoted in Terzi 2010, p. 36).
By researching and following the needs of the individual to adapt a curriculum, way of delivering it and the way we assess and report on their achievement shows success in a range of areas, not just showing our children are below and seem to not be achieving.
Bond, M. A., & Lockee, B. B. (2014). Building virtual communities of practice for distance educators. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Terzi, L. (Ed.). (2010). Special educational needs: A new look . Continuum: London.
Wenger, E.(2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization,7(2), 225-246.
Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015). Introduction to communities of practice: A brief overview of the concept and its uses. Retrieved fromhttp://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/