Communities of Practice, social software offers support for teacher research and professional learning

Christopher D. Sessums writes in his blog about An exploration of how social software offers support for teacher research and professional learning. He bridges three topics in his paper: professional learning, communities of practice and social software in general. About communities of practice he says:

“Given that a community of practice organizational design must be negotiated between immediate members of a learning community, Mejias (2006) suggests that social software provides an ability for educators to engage “in learning to learn by having them assume some of the responsibility for integrating and maintaining the social software systems that allow learning to happen” (Mejias, 2006). In order for this to occur, it would seem that school administrators, i.e., those responsible for assigning teaching loads and organizing teacher time and development, would need to adhere to a philosophy embodied within the philosophie of a community of practice and professional learning communities (PLC). As such according to Hord (2004, p.7), PLCs advocate the following five themes:

• Supportive and shared leadership
• Shared values and vision
• Collective learning and application of learning
• Supportive conditions
• Shared practice”

Clearly there is overlap between Wenger’s communities of practice framework, the PLC model, and the notion of teacher inquiry. However, what is worth noting is the notion of supportive conditions and leadership that must exist in order to foster and facilitate a learning ecology. It is critical for school administrators to understand and support inquiry communities and practice. This idea cannot be overstated. Without such support and advocacy, teacher learning and research is nearly impossible to imagine, much less actualize.

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