Activity 3: Contribution of Teacher Inquiry Topics to my Communities of Practice
Firstly I needed to identify two topics from the course that are relevant to me and my context. For this my study group thought it would be a good idea to put the lists of topics together to make choosing easier. You can see the list of what we have covered below:
The two topics that stand out for me and fit within my Community of Practice are: Key Competencies in Leadership and Student Agency and Engagement.
From our readings this week Cambridge, Kaplan, and Suter (2005) suggest that communities of practice provide an environment for people to , , and the . This fits perfectly with our Uru Mānuka Cluster Leaders of Learning Group. It also matches Wenger's (2000) definition that "a community of practice is usually defined by three distinct elements: joint enterprise, mutual engagement and shared repertoire."
Our Leaders Group was created to help drive the shared vision, goals and pedagogy of the cluster within each school context. This provides the grounds for joint enterprise. We all have skin in the game by being held accountable for our School's development, which provides us with mutual engagement. We also have a genuine interest in the development of technical and 21st century skills for our learners. By working together we create shared resource banks and ideas providing evidence of the final element shared repertoire.
I have chosen to reflect on the topics using Jay and Johnston's Reflective Model (2002).
Key Competencies in Leadership
Descriptive: Recent research that has been carried out by the Woolf Fisher team in 2017 looks at the success of the Manaiakalani Outreach Programme and it's links the impact of different leadership within each context. It was identified that in schools that had strong leadership the implementation of the Programme was further ahead.
The ability to look at our Professional Standards and link them to the Key Competencies could provide us with good insight into our own practise. By focusing on the impact that this will have on our leaders and their leadership styles our Community will become more reflective and aware. Also looking at our understanding of knowledge as a noun or a verb (Freeth, 2013) has bigger implications for how leadership occurs within a school.
Comparative: The Leaders within the Community can see the impact that leadership within their own context has towards how their School has developed their understanding and use of the Manaiakalani Programme. The research by Freeth (2013) suggests that a good place to start would be to think about the thinking behind leading and its structures before we conceptualise a plan, as people often act first and then think after.
Critical Reflection: I think that by looking deeper into the Key Competencies at a leadership level the members of my Community of Practice will be able to identify what is working in their own context, what they may be able to improve on and also what their area of focus should be.
Student Agency and Engagement
Descriptive: Student Agency and Engagement relates to my Community of Practise because it is part of our Kaupapa from Manaiakalani. Although this is part of what we do and a part of what we practise, through this course I have seen ways of making it even better. Looking at how we develop student agency and engagement across contexts and perhaps even within independent school contexts may provide us with pathways we had not thought of before. I believe that we can do more to empower and engage our learners through student agency.
Comparative: Feedback from the Woolf Fisher Observations show that student agency is often given through choice of who to work with or the order of tasks, but not on the nature or design of the task. Although this time of agency does increase student engagement I feel that there is more we could be doing to engage our learners through topic choice. In some contexts this is already happening. I feel that this would be a perfect opportunity to use the Community of Practise to gain information on what Leaders are doing to engage students through agency and what the effect they are seeing is - using our joint enterprise to create a shared repertoire.
The online resources from the Mindlab portal suggest that project based learning could be a way to increase student engagement through agency. The paper Engagement in Australian schools by Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership also looks at the difficulty of measuring engagement, looking at the different types of engagement (cognitive, behavioural and emotional).
The opening sentence on agency from the Portal is: "Martin (2004, p. 135) characterises agency as "the capability of individual human beings to make choices and act on these choices in a way that makes a difference in their lives”" My thinking around this is how much difference to their lives are the choices we are allowing our students make?
Critical Reflection: Looking at the research from the Portal it seems that measuring student agency and engagement is no easy feat. It is important to be able to determine whether what you are doing is having an impact on students engagement and therefore you must set out with a very clear measurement of success. In saying that I do believe that inquiring into the effect that different types of student agency could have on student achievement outcomes would be interesting for our Community.