Friday, 13 May 2016

Week 25: My Community of Practice

I'm @kiwiallana and have enjoyed growing as a teacher at Springston School for 10 years.

Who is my community of practice'?
According to Wenger, everyone participates in a range of communities of knowing or practice (CoP). They share a passion and interact on a regular basis to promote a common goal. This is where new learning is brought to challenge and develop the growth of the community. My CoP focus on education and include school, cluster, Wananga of Aotearoa, Twitter, Feuerstein, and colleagues on the Mind Lab course.

The purpose and function of my practice is education, including the promotion of Te Reo, effective use of ICT and best learning outcomes for students. Within school we discuss student learning needs but I find my most effective exchanges to be within groups that have formed for a specific purpose: The Feuerstein Method, The Mindlab Course and most effectivelly - Twitter.

While colleagues in my Twitter CoP are scattered around the world, they challenge me to question my practice, read current books and apply theories to improve my teaching with our common goal of improving outcomes for all students.
My best ideas come from Twitter and include Daily 5, Positive Mindset, The Learning Pit, and blogging. While I feel more like a lurker, I do share reflections, Te Reo Resources, conference notes and am becoming more active in discussions about educational issues. Twitter leads to great connections at the #educhatnz conference and #educamps - a place to meet many current Mindlab students.

So why reflect?
Part of being in a CoP is to reflect on my practice against the lense of colleagues and educational theories. Finlay (2009) suggests that being critically aware means identifying and challenging my assumptions - essential for lifelong learning. Schon (in Finlay 2009) suggests it takes place after an event but also when I actively reflect and adjust my actions during an event. This core belief fits well as I explicitly teach students to reflect using the language of learning. Reflection is the foundation of recognising that all cognitive function and behaviour are modifiable and that we can achieve anything that is broken into achievable steps. This belief system forms the foundation of the Feuerstein Method. My practice also depends heavily on Dweck’s (2006) positive mindset and utilising a range of learning strategies to help both teacher and student work their way out of Nottingham’s Learning Pit. (2013) The joy comes in seeing that the beliefs I have about effective learning for students also apply to my own life.

There are heaps more key belief systems that pervade my teaching such as Kaitiakitanga and building relationships, but we have run out of space to discuss them.

Reflecting in the form of a blog has always helped me organise my thoughts, be accountable for my intentions and share the journey with my CoP.

Dawson, P. Reflective Practice. Retrieved from
Dweck, C. S, (2006). Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential. London: Constable & Robinson Ltd

Nottingham. J, (2013), The Learning Pit, in Challenging Learning retrieved Janurary 12, 2016, from the World Wide Web:
Wenger, E.(2000).Communities of practice and social learning systems.Organization,7(2), 225-246
Wenger, E., & Trayner-Wenger, B. (2015). Communities of practice: a brief introduction. April 2015, 1–8. 


  1. Yes - and you fitted in what I didn't - that we constantly reflect on what we learn from the members of our COP. Twitter talk makes me look at what I do all the time.

    Well done you!

  2. Allana, I can wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that your best ideas come from Twitter! My colleagues are yet to realise that I'm not quite as imaginative as they think I am...

    I love your reflection organiser!

  3. We always learn from reflection, it is key part of being a life long leanrer. Being able reflect and adapt to new situations is a fundamental skill to have. Using social media for a CoP is a great idea too. I need to look into this to widen my own CoP's.

    Great work :)

  4. I have been doing some research into mindset and neuroplasticity and came across the Feuerstein method last year. I am interested to hear more about your experience with it and your reflections on the method. Are you still using it and how effective do you think it is to improving student outcomes?

    1. Maria, we have been using it for just this year - about 10 weeks. It is making a huge difference to student awareness of accuracy, precision and not being impulsive. I have just finished my Lit Review and teacher research project and hope for some real data at the end of the year. I post about it on this blog and the kids reflect on the class blog. We call it Dynamic Thinking.

      It is an amazing way of looking at children and makes you change how you teach. It is liberating to think that any learning problem can be broken down into little pieces that can be addressed one step at a time.
      Keep investigating because training in Feuerstein will change your life as a teacher.

    2. Kia ora Allana
      It's amazing how everyone's community of practice is different and I really appreciate how global you are! Fantastic that you have included Twitter as your COP and I may get there one day!
      Great that you shared a sample of one of your reflection resources and that this could be adapted for any year level.

  5. Thanks for your responses guys. Feeb - get onto Twitter - you won't know yourself if you carefully select the people you follow so that they have the same interests and questions about learning that you do. You will be challenged, inspired and fed heaps of amazing resources and ideas that have been tried and tested in classrooms already.

    The rest of you amazing people, who have found time to comment, if you want a copy of the reflection sheet so you can 'tweek' it for your own classrooms, then just direct message me on Twitter at @Kiwiallana.

  6. Hi Allana, its interesting to see the support for twitter , I can see that I am going to have to take the plunge! Perhaps the trick is finding a few key people to follow so that you can get 'hooked' in. Great to read your post. I support reflection both for teachers and students. I trialled a reflective online weekly journal with students. I found that its was like most things that I needed to put in the time, support and scaffolding at the start and then they were sailing. I think now that a blog might be a lot more versatile. Can anyone recommend one for secondary school students? I am using blogster for the mindlab course. Is this consider 'safe' for teenagers?


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