Sharing my passion

Contribution of teacher inquiry topics to my Communities of Practice.

Fundamentally as a teacher we see our purpose as instructing, guiding and nurturing our students through the relationships we build with them. Yet, through all the ‘noise’ of doing education we get distracted and can lose sight of the complete purpose we have for our students. Students and staff love seeing us being passionate about skills, topics, …, life, it is what allows people to recognise and build stronger connections about us. In this moment is an opportunity to fire up a passion for our students that doesn’t have to be explored in isolation.

Possible inquiry topics

How using the a Design Education tool (IDEO) better use the creative energy of students making games – through inclusiveness, consolidating learning, improving engagement, employing higher levels of thinking, enhancing soft skills and offering alternative assessment approaches. And as a leader how can this be modeled and shared to improve teaching practice across the science department.

Innovative and collaborative teaching practices. How is digital collaboration by students in the classroom addressing inequality. And as a leader how can generated innovations from this practice be diffused using Changeology practices (Robinson, 2012).

How do these topics relate to issues in my professional practice?

As society becomes increasingly mobile I am noticing a significant change in the diversity of students, also their significant numbers. Students appear increasing complex in their backgrounds and needs – financial, culture, economic, family norms, literacy, numeracy, behaviour, attitude, values, gender identity, self-awareness (or lack of), engagement with digital media, learning … I am sure there is much more. I don’t think it is because I am just getting older and notice more of these things, or that our school is bringing some of these issues to our attention e.g. our Priority Learners (Ministry of Education, 2016). So topics I have chosen sit well on this complex background, and raise the importance of a collective approach.

How does Wegner’s model help identify my meaningful Communities of Practice?


Wenger’s (2002) model looks at the development, structures and essential elements a group of people have with a shared common ‘aliveness’ interest, and how this is usefully sustained.

“Seven principles of designing (leading) for this aliveness are:
1. Design for evolution
2. Open dialogue between inside and outside perspectives
3. Invite different levels of participation
4. Develop both public and private community spaces
5. Focus on value
6. Combine familiarity and excitement
7. Create a rhythm for the community.”

The key elements are a Joint enterprise: shared domain which is the “collectively developed understanding of what the community is about”.
Mutual engagement: the members engage through interactions within the community, building mutual trust in the relationships.
Shared repertoire: is “the communal resources” that the community of practice produce.

I belong to a wide range of Communities of Practice, for example, our science department, New Zealand Association of Science Educators (NZASE), New Zealand Institute of Physics, the Nelson Bridge Club, Grace Church. And have loosely formed a social ‘Games group’ – which has no formal name, and can be perceived as not being meaningful, yet generates a loyal enthusiastic following.

How would inquiry into these topics contribute and link to learning within my Community of Practice?

When looking into my two suggested topics, two Communities of practice stand out. First and foremost being the science department I dynamically work with and secondly the national NZASE, of which I tend to have a passive role. [Another opportunity to change].

With the science department I can see a more tangible ‘return on investment’ with possibilities for regular face-to-face support and development. Whereas, I need to investigate what channels for sharing and communicating are available through NZASE. This would potentially reach a much wider audience and provide a wider discussion, for instance around shared experiences.

Whatever the topic, or Community of Learning, it needs to have a heart showing passion and desire to make a difference. This, in turn, will yield a deeper purpose to what I do with my students (and staff).


IDEO. Design thinking for educators. Website

Jakes T.D. Image. Retrieved from

Ministry of Education (2016). Priority learners. Retrieved from

Robinson, L. (2013). Changeology: How to enable groups, communities, and societies to do things they’ve never done before. Brunswick, Vic.: Scribe Public

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating Communities of
Practice. Harvard: Harvard Business School Press.

Wenger, E. Image. Retrieved from


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