This brings us to the idea of our cluster schools, and the teachers in these schools, being a community of practice (COP). One of the leading authorities on communities of practice is Etienne Wenger (see his website at http://www.ewenger.com). He notes that communities of practice are well established in business, but that schools are only now latching on to them. I would recommend that you visit his website. I had the opportunity in term 2 to attend a workshop on COPS given by Etienne Wenger, and it was well worth it. I am only now coming to appreciate the need to establish such a cop within our cluster. The ePrincipals, nationally, have established a cop which influences our thinking, our theories and how we operate individually, and as a group.
Jean Annan in her research noted the following characteristics associated with the organisation of a community of practice:
- It is Loosely structured and largely self managing
- Structures are typically flat, collaborative and professional
- Leadership is assigned by the members
- Tasks are distributed among members
- Membership is voluntary
- Relationships exist at a formal and informal level.