Jordan, M. E., & Mcdaniel, R. R. (2014). Managing uncertainty during collaborative problem solving in elementary school teams: The role of peer influence in robotics engineering activity. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 1–49. doi:10.1080/10508406.2014.896254
Aw man, I’m a fifth grader! Ok, I’m not a fifth grader, but that is who I was connecting with in the article by M.E. Jordan. I have so many new adventures I am starting and these days, uncertainty seems to be my constant state of mind. In addition to starting the Ed. D. program, I am now one of the mentor teachers at my school. To say that I have uncertainty about how my life will work over the next year is an understatement.
When any of my colleagues point out that I’m crazy for taking on so much and that it is going to be so hard, my response is always the same. “Yes, I’m a little crazy, but the most difficult stuff is the most rewarding.” When I read the statement, “Generating uncertainty can facilitate the reorganization of current beliefs, values and conceptions.” (Jordan & Mcdaniel, 2014), I was pleased to find an affirmation of my beliefs; further evidence, that in order to change, one has to work through the issue.
As I continued to reflect on the article and my new position at work I realized that I would not be the only person coming into this new community of practice with uncertainty. The new teachers I will be working with are not only going to be uncertain, but probably apprehensive. Jordan says that when we are presented with another’s uncertainty we will either respond in a socially supportive way or not. It is my job to help the new teachers grow as educators and to build a community of practice that deals with the uncertainty in a positive way. In an article by Wenger, he says that “Members build their community through mutual engagement. They interact with one another, establishing norms and relationships of mutuality that reflect these interactions.” (Wenger, 2000) Building relationships and establishing norms is going to play a huge role in how I can assist others in their uncertainty and vice versa.
I saw so many parallels between the 5th grade class in the article and the community I am now a part of in cohort 9. Each of us has been uncertain at many points over the last few weeks, but as a group we have helped each other in a positive way and have not only worked through our uncertainty, but have created a community of practice who works to support each other through our growth. It is exciting to be a part of it!
Tara Yosso discusses deficit thinking in her article. Even though she is discussing it from the position of minority students, I think it can be applied to any community of practice. She says that “Cultural capital is not just inherited or possessed by the middle class, but rather it refers to an accumulation of specific forms of knowledge, skills and abilities.”(Yosso, 2005) Each person brings cultural capital, regardless of race. As a leader it is really important to remember that everyone has their strengths and their weaknesses. In addition, my strengths are not going to be the same as the next person’s. By valuing people for the capital they bring, the community will become a valuable tool that will allow each of us to work together through our trials.
As I continue on my new adventures, I am confident that I can work through all of my uncertainties and help my community members through theirs. It is empowering to know that, at times, everyone has doubts and that working in a community of practice will allow me to grow, in spite of my uncertainty.
Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Sage, 7(2), 225–246. doi:10.1177/135050840072002
Yosso, T. J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69–91. doi:10.1080/1361332052000341006