“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.
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:
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)
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).
Wegner (2000) states that when a community of practice is designing itself it should look at the following areas.
Evidence of these areas can be found on the ReGeneration website.
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.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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
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