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Group #3's Reflection on Theme One

Who is group #3, what are they like? Group three is a randomly selected group of diverse students with a variety of educational backgrounds. Our diversity strengthens and challenges our thinking in our community of practice discussions. We are the future teachers who are already learning the value of continued learning and collaboration. We have decided in our community of practice to strive to maintain an egalitarian and democratic atmosphere. One way of accomplishing this is through the rotation of duties, such as "discussion leader" and "recorder". By doing this we will support each other in taking on roles that one may not feel comfortable or not inclined to do. By creating a safe and supportive environment within our group we hope that we will each find strengths we didnt know we had. Secondly, we have set reasonable goals together by consensus, pertaining to readings and out-ofclass work. Thus, creating a sense of accountability for the contributions that are made. Thirdly, we encourage each group member to bring an item from the readings that resonated with them, as well as one with which they found some conflict. We feel that this will keep our discussions interesting, forward thinking and challenging. We ensure at all times to be a trusting community, free of judgement and accountable to one another, through the above goals, and mutual respect. Since our community's inception, we've reviewed our guiding principles, and found them to be working effectively, and we will continue to review and revise them as necessary to ensure their relevance. Insights from class discussions: IMAGES OF CHILDREN (Seminar one) Our community of practice discussed what it means to protect the students that you are teaching. Though we understand the importance of protecting the students entrusted to our care, we feel it equally valuable to expose the students to challenging situations, not to simply "toughen them up" but to provide opportunities to develop critical thinking and broaden their worldviews. This point sparked a lot of interest among our group members when one member shared a story from his field experience. He talked about grade nine teacher wanting to create an experiment for his students to show them how the real world works and not protect them from the sometimes harsh realities that arise in life, rather prepare them for such situations as growing individuals. Children are aware of the worlds around them and understand more than we may give them credit. Communication with students to further their understandings, alleviate misconceptions and challenge their thinking is more of an act of protection than avoiding the subject. Children will not be able to access there full potential if they do not feel comfortable in their school environment. We as teachers are inevitably going to experience uncomfortable situations throughout our careers some intentional, others not but we have to somehow work this into positive learning moments. If the intention is to create an uncomfortable situation, like the example of the grade 9 teacher, a debriefing is needed to explain the purpose and reasons as to why this situation was presented.

Our discussions lead us to the topic of effort in learning. Effort cannot be measured equally for all students and as we have come to learn through this program no student is the same in their learning. A student's potential cannot simply be inferred through simply observing their attitude, or perceived efforts. It is important to look past these things and realize that the students, who are NOT mini-adults, are in constant development, and their potentials are unfolding before our eyes. WHAT ARE THE MERITS OF WORKING IN A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE? (Seminar two) Multilateral Mentorship Our community of practice discussed that CoP's work like mentoring relationships, but in a number of directions at once, with the direction of the mentorship in a constant state of flux. We felt that they also exist in a state of trust, without judgement. Inspiration We agreed that CoP's offer a space for teachers to inspire and ignite each other, rather than waiting and hoping that students will provide the only spontaneity in the classroom. CoP's can push us and challenge us to try new teaching techniques, and even expose us to new paradigms and philosophies. Opening up an often-private profession to the benefits of collaboration Working in a CoP allows individual teachers to feel as if they are a part of something greater than being an individual teacher. This will hopefully encourage teachers to share resources and techniques. Many teachers feel a personal connection with the material they have developed throughout their career and thus are unlikely to openly give away something they feel is their property. CoPs give a time and a place for individuals to safely express themselves without fear of being overpowered by others. Once teachers have separated from the group meetings they are able to bring their own personal touch to their new lesson plans so that strategies they have learned can flourish. How can you initiate communities of practice? Our community of practice had a great discussion about how to start a CoP within schools. The first thing we all agreed upon was that the CoP can not be forced upon teachers. Having an administrator or specialist come into a school and attempt to create a CoP would likely be taken negatively in our opinions. Members need to be willing to participate and volunteer to join otherwise there would likely be a feeling of not caring from some members. While we were still unsure of how to naturally create a CoP we had a few ideas we felt would work. First we would want to show the benefits of a CoP to potential members so that they would be more inclined to join for reasons they personally liked. We also thought that community building activities would be a great way to help members and potential members

become more open and comfortable. A great example of community building activities is something called corporate challenge. Companies throughout Calgary put together teams in all sorts of events and compete against each other in an Olympics type competition. Something like this could be used to bring teachers together and help create relationships naturally. Responses to readings: Our CoP had some interesting discussions about the assigned readings. We discussed the idea that in a CoP there needs to be a balance between honouring the history of practice, and shaking free from it. It can be easy for people to take a drastic stance, and we felt that it was critical to find a balance between the two rather then go all the way to one side or the other. Another interesting discussion we had was that in the CoP perspective, learning is located in the relationship between the learner and the world. This perspective doesnt displace the learner, but rather situate them in a social context. As a group we also discussed the idea of integrity and identity. We felt that it is important that a teacher is comfortable with their own identity in order to excel as a teacher. Students can sense when a teacher is trying to be something they arent, so it is vital that teachers know who they are and teach accordingly.