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Communities of Practice CoP

What we are in our active community


Professional Development Mario Alberto Sandoval Sanchez
Due: Friday October the 26th.

Gloria del Rocio Ibarguen Ramon

As most teenagers who are seeking to forge an identity will act, live and defend the way they dress, what they like and their demeanor. Needless to say further down the road as life hands them new experiences they look back and recognize what they were thinking, the clothes, hair, taste in music, friends and wrong choices can only make them blush or feel ashamed. You can say that they chose to be that way but how much influence did they have in the way they acted? Can I say that if they were in a different environment could they have acted a completely different way? It can be said that even not choosing to follow the common demeanor would be made because of the direct contact they had with people who acted or behaved in a way that might not be favorable to ones preferences. The simple fact that the community where someone lives can be marquee in way they react whether favorable or not. As a professors it can also be said that inside our community of teachers we can help each other learn through good or bad experiences, and most important grow and expand. Most of us teachers rely on our material and knowledge to get through a class, yet we see from other co-workers how to implement new techniques, approaches, experiences like being aware of good students or even lowperforming groups. Sometimes a teacher can be very vocal with their experiences in a class and co-workers tend to understand and help each other find a solution or help alleviate any issues with grammar topics or students conduct. These day to day situations everyone has gone through, at some point, everyone has always relied on help and assistance from others. This can be taken into consideration as a Community of Practice. According to Etienne Wenger (2006),Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. As we go to work and practice our everyday labor we share with our co-workers our experiences and also issues with the material, school events, payments, and even classrooms. Why do we share these experiences? Simple, our day to day experiences; these experiences are the same for our co-workers, they in-turn understand and sympathize our learning

experiences or help us understand that our troubles are common or easy to fix. There are times when we truly do not know what to do in given situations and it is easier to ask a co-worker to help us make a proper decision dealing with the given issue. To be fair with what a community of practice is, we usually consider that a community consists of a neighborhood, this not necessarily true in a CoP. We need three crucial characteristics to define what a community of practice is; one of them is The domain.
The domain: A community of practice is not merely a club of friends or a network of connections between people. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest. Membership therefore implies a commitment to the domain, and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes members from other people. (You could belong to the same network as someone and never know it.) The domain is not necessarily something recognized as "expertise" outside the community. A youth gang may have developed all sorts of ways of dealing with their domain: surviving on the street and maintaining some kind of identity they can live with. They value their collective competence and learn from each other, even though few people outside the group may value or even recognize their expertise. Wenger (2006)

According to Wenger (2006) the domain is not just where you practice your everyday life but an area where interest are shared. As English teachers we can say that those moments when we share experiences or tips for learning and our jargon is being misunderstood by non-teachers we are in our COP. This has happened before for me, 4 months ago I was talking to my coordinator about how students did learn because their lack of interest and that no matter how salient the information was if they did not perceive through noticing in a psycholinguistics learning process. We were both aware of our experience with the group and also our chosen words, I would not talk this way with a friend or parents because they would be able to respond to enrich the conversation. As a practitioner of a teaching profession and grad school student, having correlated endeavors make me a member of two communities. Another crucial characteristic is the community itself.
The community: In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other. A website in itself is not a community of practice. Having the same job or the same title does not make for a community of practice unless members interact and learn together. The claims processors in a large insurance company or students in American high schools may have much in common, yet unless they interact and learn together, they do not form a community of practice. But members of a community of practice do not necessarily work together on a daily basis. The Impressionists, for instance, used to meet in cafes and studios to discuss the style of painting

they were inventing together. These interactions were essential to making them a community of practice even though they often painted alone. Wenger (2006)

It is safe to say that the community differs from the domain in the fact that the community is the members, or the people who interact in common activities for a variety of purposes. There has to be interaction between the members of the community even if they do not interact on a day to day basis. For example, my exhigh school classmates who follow the NFL on a daily basis created a Fantasy league. The league is game where actual football players are chosen through a draft, you must construct a team from the players that you draft then once you have built a league with ten people you wait for real NFL games and the way the players performed will give you points and the team with the most points wins the league. What is curious is that I live here in Veracruz and my ex-classmates live in Los Angeles, CA. We get to interact and chat on-line and as the NFL season progresses we communicate with each other for the league's sake we talk about football stuff and also important information to help me chose the player that is the most suitable each given week. So what is done is only by us as a group there are more leagues of people who admire the game of football, but we can also imagine that there are more things that are practiced and this brings us to the third and final crucial characteristic needed in a community and it is the actual activity or what is known as Practice.
The practice: A community of practice is not merely a community of interest--people who like certain kinds of movies, for instance. Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problemsin short a shared practice. This takes time and sustained interaction. A good conversation with a stranger on an airplane may give you all sorts of interesting insights, but it does not in itself make for a community of practice. The development of a shared practice may be more or less self-conscious. The "windshield wipers" engineers at an auto manufacturer make a concerted effort to collect and document the tricks and lessons they have learned into a knowledge base. By contrast, nurses who meet regularly for lunch in a hospital cafeteria may not realize that their lunch discussions are one of their main sources of knowledge about how to care for patients. Still, in the course of all these conversations, they have developed a set of stories and cases that have become a shared repertoire for their practice. Wenger (2006).

According to Wenger (2006), we look at the detailed idea of being inside of a community and the moment we share ideas and experiences we are interacting in a working environment known to be a community of practice. The main focus the concept and characteristics of the practice is to take into account the simple fact

that we are capable of learning in any part of our life from anybody. It can be said that to me the best piece of advice given to me as a teenager was never said by a friend relative or professor inside my community of daily interaction, but from a renowned gang member. I clearly remember the day I was waiting in line at a convenience store and some random guy taps me with a carton of beer and looks at me angrily, so I decide to ignore him and he taps me once more, as I turn around to look at him he tells me in a conflictive demeanor what up. I initially thought he wanted to start a fight with me but he just wanted to catch my attention because my mother was his barber and he told how much he respected my mother. As we engaged in a friendly conversation I told him that I was a little stressed out over money and he told me with a confident tone, today you have a hundred dollars and tomorrow you dont, so why worry over something that youre not going to have tomorrow I can say this piece of advice has been with me ever since, I think anyone can take this as helpful, but how can this be helpful in my community of practice? It is safe to say that we can only practice inside of our community if we maintain a core of knowledge that is either helpful or resourceful. As I continue to be in a football fantasy league in maintain my jargon and insights of new info that I learn through football programs, sports news and websites as a core for my knowledge that will be displaced inside a given domain in an area of interest named community where we develop, share and maintain this football knowledge. I think that the majority of us unconsciously create certain circle or communities to keep an essence of what we are, for example, it quite common for people to maintain their professional career as far away from their personal life as they can. I like to think that people can be more than one dimensional like looking for people with the same interest as you who might not be practitioners of your professional community. For example, when I was in high school I used to play football and my best friends who were into the trendiest fashions did not share my taste in fashion and music. So I had to hang out with people outside my circle of teammates, I had to find people who liked rock music and liked to go to live concerts and none of my

teammates ever enjoyed those things. So I had to look for people who did, and the best thing about these friends was they never talked about football and I really enjoyed that. I like to think that even if we are in an ideal community of practice, we can most definitely look for other things and communities that can deal with other expectations and learning experiences. I love to learn about new music and enjoy older music so I have to look for people who lived that music and understand all the nuances that create a new learning experience for me.

Reference Wenger, Etienne. "Communities of practice." Etienne Wenger home page. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. <http://www.ewenger.com/theory/>.