Sep 4, 2016

My Community Of Practice

As an educator in a senior class my closest community of practice is the team members I work with most directly. However, it also overlaps into the wider community of colleagues, as I am also the eLearning director in our school; this position affords me the co-ordinator role and therefore has me directly interacting with, supporting and guiding teachers in other areas of the school. Wenger (2009) says "we define with each other what constitutes competence in a given context." My team of four senior teachers is the community I most interact with through meetings, professional development and our weekly breakfasts together – a much-needed source of support and relaxing fun thrown in for good measure. The team is a secure one and a supportive one as we all have skills in differing areas of expertise and therefore we are frequently guiding and supporting each other in different areas. Communications with the team are often casual, in passing, or via emails sharing ideas and thoughts. It is the team I value the most as we frequently have ‘parental’ issues that require support from each other in the ‘where to next’ category and the ‘how do I deal with that one’ category. I see our team as equals because we have skills in differing areas: ICT’s, mindfulness, literacy, numeracy, science and sport. We all offer skills for each other to learn from and I feel that this team works symbiotically together because of our skill base and natural nature to support. 

Given previous assignments my reflections on my own practice have grown over the period of working with Mindlab. Wenger (2009) states "communities of practice grow out of a convergent interplay of competence and experience that involves mutual engagement".  On a previous assignment I reflected that my role as eLearning director took a mostly 'fix it', 'sort it' role rather than a supportive and guiding role. Therefore over the last term as we have focused on filming and photography in school I have directed two of my ICT blocks a week to support in the classroom. This has then afforded me time to support and guide teachers in their learning using ICT's in the classroom. I have felt like I am supporting and guiding teachers, I have had a sense of belonging to other parts of the school where once I was I felt disconnected from [most specifically the juniors], I have also felt that I am valued and needed within the school not just as a  'fix it' lady. It has been enlightening for myself as well as the other teachers in the school whom I am supporting with my skill base. This is what the role SHOULD have been all along. Even when the filming project for school as finished it is my intention to keep the two blocks weekly for support in classes or modelling – whatever colleagues require. The excitement I have seen generated by staff who once thought it was ‘too hard’ to integrate ICT’s in the classroom with all the other demands on our class time has been so very rewarding for them and me. 

New connections have been forged with the teacher enquiry into including growth mindset and mindfulness into my daily/weekly programmes. I now have a new community of practice where we will implement the programme I set out to do, I seem to have energised a few staff into practicing mindfulness after our professional development over a year ago, just through my ideas of how I would monitor and implement it in the classroom. This has extended through to other year groups of teachers and has been quite energising and future focused for our school community of learners as well as parents, colleagues and students. Wenger (2000) stated that communities of practice “can evolve naturally because of the members' common interest in a particular domain or area”

The community of practice continues to grow and evolve…


Finlay, B. L. (2008). Reflecting on “ Reflective practice .” PBPL Paper 52, (January), 1–27.

Pennington, F. (2011). Communities of Practice - A Framework for Learning and Improvement. Retrieved from 

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Wenger, E.(2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization,7 (2), 225-246 (Available in Unitec Library).


  1. Sounds like you have been making some positive and effective changes within your school - awesome! I think it's so lucky when the people we work closest with end up being those we look to for our CoP.

    1. It is isn't it? I count myself very lucky to have such a positive team that works so well together and compliments each others skill base, it's new to me and hasn't happened successfully all the time.

    2. I have started using mindfulness with my self confessed IT illiterate collaborative teacher. She found some amazing resources online such as using mindful senses which she adapted and this weeks activity Marble Roll. It is great supporting her to make these sessions happen, as like you, I would like it to filter into other classrooms. The children are enjoying themselves almost as much as we are. My next goal is for her to use IT more often in her own practise. She is great at getting the children to do her admin like log on, add email attachments, and Blogging but I would love her to be more proactive in front of the children so they can see her problem solving as issues arise just as she expects them to in the classroom.

    3. I'd love to hear more about the activities you have on the mindful senses etc Sounds like you are making great progress in encouragement of your fellow colleague too. It is very rewarding to encourage and stimulate other staff less literate in the technology.

  2. You say ..."I have also felt that I am valued and needed within the school not just as a 'fix it' lady." Im curious, what do you think made the shift to this. Was it your actions or something bigger that happened in the community

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  4. It's partly both Colleen but mostly the former. I have allowed myself more time to get into classes as a support or modeller and therefore it has allowed me to be more hands on with children in different areas of the school; encouraged by a former assignment. But, it's also because the school inquiry this term was film making - which for the majority of our staff was their first foray into it, so I was needed to model and demo in classes and support class teachers with new technology equipment and editing software. It's been awesome!

  5. With reading through your reflection I can clearly see that it made a world of difference to you about have a positive and supportive team to work alongside with. It's great that you also made changes to your practice that not only benefitted you but also your students and colleagues. Been the 'fix it' lady can be great because at least your team or school community can acknowledge your skill and can ask you for help and support when needed. I am sure that your team and students have appreciated what you have done for them over the year.