Today’s classrooms are more complex and dynamic than ever before. The social, emotional, and academic scope which children bring with them requires teachers to do more than take on “fragmented techniques for managing instruction, keeping students on-task, and handling student behavior” (Larrivee, 2000). It requires that we can move in many directions – that we can be organic – that we are able to modify the skills we know to fit specific contexts.
Being a reflective teacher moves us beyond a knowledge base of discrete skills. It moves us to a place where we have enough self efficacy to create personal solutions to problems. Critical reflection brings commonly held beliefs to question. Examining our core beliefs is a critical aspect of self-reflection (Larrivee, 2000). The inner struggle which results is a necessary and important stage.
Belonging to communities of practice is a human tradition. Sharing cultural practices and reflecting on collective learning is part of human history. “Communities of Practice grow out of a convergent interplay of competence and experience that involves mutual engagement” (Wenger, 2000).
One community of practice I belong to is #BFC630NZ – in fact I am one of the founders of this community. The seed was sown for this community at the start of 2015 and we have been cultivating it now for two years. I started this community of practice out of a need for professional dialogue around our craft of teaching and learning. I was not having the depth of conversation and critical thinking I needed to reflect deeply on my practice. After having been on Twitter for a year and having involved myself with the American #BFC530 I decided this morning spark chat idea was the way to go. I was helping to cultivate a global community of practice and decided this was something which I knew could work here in New Zealand. The rest is history!
However as Wenger (2000) shares, although communities of practice rely on internal leadership it also requires multiple forms of leadership – a community which builds other leaders; where leadership is distributed.
Our shared domain of interest is future focused education.
#BFC630NZ is a 15 minute *spark chat* which happens every weekday morning during term time. We have a team of educators who host a morning every fortnight. The beauty of this community is there is no hierarchy. We have educators from ALL levels of the system and we are all there for the same purpose – to connect, share, and learn from each other to make our classrooms places our learners want to be. We have cultivated a community of trust, critical friendship, and support. We are the #BFC630NZ whanau!
Every weekday morning our hosts will tweet out a question or a provocation or a sentence starter or a topic or an idea for us to comment on. FotoFriday has been a great addition as we can share visually about a topic. The repertoire of resources shared in a 15 minute time slot are always valuable. Resources range from stories of own experiences, links to readings or articles, suggestions of other educators to connect with, images or photos sharing practice, tools and digital platforms to try to name a few.
Having started #BFC630NZ and for a period of time hosting alternate mornings, it was soon very clear that this community would not be sustainable without the support of others. Two years on we have cultivated a supportive group of educators who meet every weekday morning during term time for 15 minutes. So although my role began as a leader I feel I am now part of a community of many leaders who openly share their journeys.
My sense of connectedness is such that it has become part of my routine and my PLN at #BFC630NZ are the first people I turn to when I need advice, conversation, answers to questions, ideas, or thoughts. There is mutual respect in our community and we all recognise each other’s expertise. We all feel safe here to critically discuss provocations.
Larrivee, B. (2000).Transforming teaching practice: becoming the critically reflective teacher. Reflective Practice, 1(3), 293-307.
Wenger, E.(2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization,7(2), 225-246.