Current issues in my professional context

The school that I currently teach at in Rotorua was formally a decile 9 school but changed to a decile 7 school in 2015. We have a role of near 600 with a diverse culture. Māori students make up 25 percent of the school roll as well as a large amount of other English as second language speakers. Otonga was formally unzoned which has resulted in a diverse socioeconomic status at our school and means many children travel from around Rotorua to attend. Last year Otonga became zoned, as a result of overflowing class sizes.

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Socioeconomic Status

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Rotorua is considered quite a low socioeconomic area in New Zealand but Springfield is considered a desirable and higher income district.  The median income for Springfield is $35,100 compared to $26,900 for Rotorua. The unemployment rate for Springfield is 5.1% compared to 10% for Rotorua (Statistics New Zealand, 2013). The status of our community is quite high and therefore the expectations on our school are extremely high. Although only a decile 7 school, we compare ourselves and our achievement to decile 9 schools who have a higher socio-economic status. We have  many initiatives in place to try and help our struggling learners. This includes Numicon and ALIM groups for maths, rainbow reading and early words. There is also ESOL groups run for our English as a second language speakers, which mostly consists of Asian students.

 

School Culture

The culture that our school strives to have is a collaborative culture where we are setting our students up to have the skills to work in a 21st century workplace. We strive to give students a voice in their learning and where there is mutual respect between the community of practice. The issues that we have in our school culture is that although we strive to be collaborative, this is not happening school wide and therefore rather than collaboration, it is more along the lines of Balkanisation. This is when teachers are neither isolated nor work as a whole school, rather small collaborative groups form (Stoll,1998). This has been seen by some teachers team teaching by their own choice and the rest of the team teaching individually. Overview planning is done together then branches off into what the classroom teacher really wants to do. To overcome this, I feel that decisions need to have a shared goal which is co constructed rather than directed. There needs to be professional development around the ever changing face of education and with mutual respect their should be less Balkanisation. 

When looking at Stoll and Fink’s model  our school culture can be seen as cruising.  We are effective in affluent areas, pupils achieve in spite of teaching quality, we aren’t quite at a stage where we are  preparing pupils for changing world and we possess powerful norms that inhibit change. Looking to the future we need to change our school vision (which we are in the process of) so that our students and teachers “know where they’re going and having the will and skill to get there” (Stoll,1998).

 

References:

Education Review Office. (2014). Otonga Road School – 28/07/2014. Retrieved
from: http://www.ero.govt.nz/review-reports/otonga-road-school-28-07-2014​ 

Ministry of Education – Education Counts. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2017, from http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/data-services/directories/list-of-nz-schools

Statistics New Zealand. (2013). 2013 Census QuickStats about a place:Springfield. Retrieved from http://www.stats.govt.nz/tools_and_services/tools/TableBuilder/income-tables.aspx

Stoll (1998). School Culture. School Improvement Network’s Bulletin 9. Institute of Education, University of London.

My community of practice

A community of practice  is defined by Knox (2009), as “a group of people who share a passion of something they know how to do and interact regularly to learn how to do it better” where the purpose is to create, expand and exchange knowledge, and to develop individual capabilities. Wenger (2000) states that there is 3 elements to a community of practice:

  1. collective understanding of what community is about and hold each other accountable
  2.  mutual engagement and a trusted partner in interactions
  3. Shared collection of resources

 

 

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Shared Domain:
My community of practice is made up of many many sub groups where our shared domain of interest is building  and sharing knowledge and skills in our community.  We are focused on providing a platform for our learners  where they are show grit and perseverance to become life long learners.

As a community we engage in  a range of practices where we are able to build upon our knowledge and skills. These may be formal or informal conversations and observations. In my community I feel confident and  listened to, to approach members to voice concerns, ask for advice and share my own ideas. This is an important part of belonging in the community where there needs to be a high level of trust. Within this community we meet for weekly meetings – team and staff, to provide connectivity (Wenger, 2000). Emails and Google plus have also become an effective and engaging way of joint discussions and problem solving.

Shared Repertoire:
Much of our communities shared repertoire is found online. As a community we use Google Drive as way of sharing resources where everyone has access. As well as this we also use Google Plus, this is a quick and easy way where we can share ideas, reading, tools for learning and provide feedback. This allows a framework where we are able to reflect as a community, understand other perspectives and problem solve (Wenger, 2000). Face to face communication such as observations from colleagues and the use of videoed lessons, provides time to engage in reflective questioning and listening.

My Role and contribution:
My role in the community is forever changing depending on what the situation that we are discussing or participating in. The main role in which I feel I fall in to is as a facilitator and an active member. I am comfortable in sharing my ideas and resources as well as giving feedback to others. At times I still feel like a newcomer to the community, especially as part of the senior team where I have only been this year. With more experienced and  older members around me, it can sometimes feel daunting and that my ideas aren’t as of much value.

Other Communities:
Although my school community at Otonga is my main, everyday community, I also now have the added bonus of being apart of the Mindlab community. Most of this community takes place online through our google plus community. On here we are able to share our blogs, ask questions, and share resources.  I am lucky enough to have a colleague from school also part of this community, so we are able to share our ideas, reflect on our thinking, collaborate and consolidate face to face.

Knox, B.(2009, December 4). Cultivating Communities of Practice: Making Them Grow.. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhMPRZnRFkk

Wenger, E.(2000).Communities of practice and social learning systems.Organization,7(2), 225-246 (Link to the article in Unitec Library).