Practice within a Community

“Critically define my practice.

When reading Wengers (2000) Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems, it reminds me of an opportunity which had a profound influence on me. It gave me a sense of belonging and shaped my teaching practice.

ReGen

ReGeneration Banner – Image: Emma McFadyen

I was invited to attend an event which was the beginning of a community of practice. The group were young changemakers who fostered the purpose of taking “collective action on addressing the challenges that young people face at a personal and global level” (Matheson, n.d.).

The way this community and social learning system (Wengers, 2000) influenced my practice can be identifed by three key areas:

  • Community
  • Domain
  • Practice

(Knox, 2009)

Community
Before attending the ReGeneration event and creating a community, I had felt isolated in my beliefs and philosophy. I had tried to initiate discussions and projects within my current communities without much success. When meeting the group of people that would become ReGeneration and forming relationships, I felt a sense of belonging which developed my confidence and I attempted challenges knowing I was supported through the community. The journey helped to form and consolidate my personal identity and I was able to articulate why I chose to be a fellow change-maker and the reasons for the preferred field I worked in to achieve this change.

This personal growth contributed to the collective growth of the community as we were all learning about ourselves together in an organic process, which strengthened our community’s vision. This concept is supported by Wegner (2000) who says our identity is crucial to social learning systems for three reasons.

  • Identities combine competence and experience into a way of knowing.
  • Our ability to deal productively with boundaries depends on our ability to engage and suspend our identities.
  • Our identities are the living vessels in which communities and boundaries become realised as an experience of the world.

(Wengers, 2000, p.239)

Domain
With a few initiative under the concept of ReGeneration. The convenor looked at how to expand the group of young leaders to drive the project. This lead to a series of smaller gatherings which formed the ReGeneration Collective. As a group of core members, we engaged in shared inquiry and the key issues (Knox, 2009) that we saw in our individual communities, which weaved common threads between us and could be addressed collectively. This dialogue and shared inquiry process gave me an insight into how people in different fields addressed change. An example being the design thinking model being shared with me by a member with industrial design experience. I was able to utilise this knowledge and understanding to influence and inform my own classroom practice.
Being part of this dialogue within ReGeneration enabled me to see how my jigsaw piece might fit into the bigger picture puzzle and where my impact could be of the greatest benefit. “In most organisations, members of communities of practice contribute their competencies by participating in cross-functioning projects and teams that combine the knowledge of multiple practices to get something done” (Wegner, 2000, p.237).

Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 10.02.59 PM

ReGeneration Collective – Image: Billy Matheson

Practice
Wegner (2000) states that when a community of practice is designing itself it should look at the following areas.

  • Events
  • Leadership
  • Connectivity
  • Membership
  • Projects
  • Artifacts

Evidence of these areas can be found on the ReGeneration website.

FullSizeRender (12)

Collection of work by ReGeneration – Image: Emma McFadyen

Being a contributor to building this collective body of knowledge has given me a variety of tools, life skills and resources to draw on. Rather than isolating myself to the classroom, I see my practice being able to foster cross-organisational networks to address change and deepen individual and collective impact (Support Centre Media, 2017). I continue on this path to see the areas and ways I can achieve this.

 

The people involved in the ReGeneration project decided to complete the journey in 2013. However, what was created and fostered within this community of practice impacted greatly on the individuals involved. Aspects of ReGeneration continue on through their actions and projects.

by 2This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

References

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

Matheson, B. (n.d.). ReGeneration. Retrieved from
http://www.regeneration.org.nz/contact-us

Splashroom Media. (2012, January 29). Emma McFadyen . Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/35828556

Support Centre Media. (2017, February 7). Practice Area: Communities of Practice [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rWESR6Q2R4

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization. 7(2), 225-246. Retrieved from
http://journals.sagepub.com.libproxy.unitec.ac.nz/doi/abs/10.1177/135050840072002

 

4 thoughts on “Practice within a Community

  1. Hey Em, you say that the people involved in ReGeneration decided to “complete the journey” in 2013. What actually happened? You sort of start to go into this in your discussion, that aspects lived on, but would it not be fair to say the journey itself lived on – in the people that the collective touched? Not just for participants but for those around them too?

    Kate B.

    PS keep up the good work, I look forward to your future blogs!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Kate!
    In 2013 our co-conveners announced they wanted to explore other opportunities. During this time, members of ReGeneration were exploring concepts around social enterprise and were starting their own businesses. Not many people could sustain their previous level of commitment to the project anymore. During our final hui we likened the process to the life-cycle where we were putting something (ReGeneration) back into the earth to decay and to allow for new growth to come forward. That new growth has taken many different forms. It is exciting to see the direction people have gone in and what they are achieving. One example being Enspiral – https://enspiral.com/
    If we are to look at the completion of ReGeneration in a holistic context, then ReGeneration physically ended and there was a grief process which we acknowledged and reached acceptance around. However, the spirit of ReGeneration lives on as the vision is a fundamental part of each individual’s kaupapa. Plus, there are the emotional bonds that were formed from being part of this project. For me, these relationships are special as we went on an important journey together which created deep connections. Not to mention the forward-focused thinking these people have. I hope there is the capacity to work with them one day in the future.
    So, to answer your question, Kate. Yes – ReGeneration lived/s on and we have a website for anyone who wants to replicate something similar with the tools generated by ReGen.
    Being a person who was indirectly affected by ReGen, would you agree with this statement, or do you have a different take on the situation?

    Like

    • Thanks Em. I really like the life-cycle analogy! And yes, I have always felt inspired by the ReGen story through hearing you speak so passionately about your involvement with the group and the connections you made there. I’m glad to hear that you think it has been positive for all those who were a part of it, and that the ReGen ethos has lived on in their work today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Kate 🙂
        I can’t speak for everyone, but I hope they all had positive experiences.
        Yeah, super proud of what people have achieved and their direction and impact. It was a great community of practice to be part of. So much learning right when I needed it. It has shaped me.

        Like

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