Friday, 20 May 2016

Week 26: Class Notes - Community of Practice and Situated Learning

Understanding the concepts of community of practice and situated learning, you will now consider the interaction and learning you have within your professional community and how to become an active participant who contributes to the shared identity of your community.
It is therefore important to explore different aspects of your community of practice and how these impact on you. Those aspects include shared assumptions, values, beliefs or, in other words, the organisational culture within which you operate socially and professionally.
School Culture
Stoll (1998) defines school culture as three dimensions, the relationship among its members; the organisational structure including the physical environment and management system; and the learning nature.
The organisational culture is an invisible powerful force that influences the members’ behaviour. Hongboontri and Keawkhong (2014) show that the school culture impacts on teachers’ beliefs and instructional practices but this relationship is also reciprocal. 
Stoll (1998) places the importance of understanding school culture as the starting point for leading change towards school improvement. Some internal and external factors that shape a school culture include the school history, the student socio-economical background, external contexts such as national educational policies, and societal changes (Stoll, 1988).
Stoll and Fink (cited in Stoll, 1998) identified 10 influencing cultural norms of school improvement including:
“1. Shared goals - “we know where we’re going”
2. Responsibility for success - “we must succeed”
3. Collegiality - “we’re working on this together”
4. Continuous improvement - “we can get better”
5. Lifelong learning - “learning is for everyone”
6. Risk taking - “we learn by trying something new”
7. Support - “there’s always someone there to help”
8. Mutual respect - “everyone has something to offer”
9. Openness - “we can discuss our differences”
10. Celebration and humour - “we feel good about ourselves”” (p.10)
So, as a teaching professional, how does the organisational culture affect your practice? and how can you help to foster a positive environment in your community of practice?
Suggested reading:
  • Stoll (1998). School Culture. School Improvement Network’s Bulletin 9. Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved from In this work, which is recommended on the Ministry of Education’s website, Stoll points out the role of culture in school improvement. There is also practical advice to help practitioners and leaders observe and analyse the school’s culture and changing stages.
Activity 2: Your professional community
After reading the Class Notes, create a blog post where you provide a critical discussion of your professional community of practice in relation to any two of the following questions:
  1. What is the organisational culture (collective values/principles) that underpins your practice? How would you contribute to fostering a positive professional environment in your community of practice?
  2. What are the current issues in your community of practice? How would your community of practice address them?
  3. What are the challenges that you face in your community of practice? How would your community of practice address them?
  4. What changes are occurring in the context of your profession? How would your community of practices address them?
Lave, J. (1991). Situating learning in communities of practice. In L. Resnick, J. Levine, and S. Teasley (Eds.). Perspectives on socially shared cognition. [E-reader version](pp. 63-82). Retrieved from
Hongboontri, C., & Keawkhong, N. (2014). School Culture: Teachers' Beliefs, Behaviors, and Instructional Practices. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(5), 66-88. Retrieved from
Stoll (1998). School Culture. School Improvement Network’s Bulletin 9. Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved from

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