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The collaborative school community Brownrigg, Celia Annesley Fraser 2012-04

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THE COLLABORATIVE SCHOOL COMMUNITY by CELIA ANNES LEY FRASER BROWNRIGG B.Ed., University of Victoria, 2005 B.A., University of Victoria, 2004 A GRADUATING PAPER SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF EDUCATION m THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Language and Literacy Education) We accept this graduating paper as confonning to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) April, 2012 © Celia Annesley Fraser Brownrigg, 2012 ABSTRACT Educators who teach in a school setting are automatically members of a school community. Individuals may choose how they view themselves in relation to other members and in relation to the school community as a whole. The way community members view themselves directly influences their actions and reactions within the community, which in tum changes the nature and dynamic of the community. This paper examines the use of metaphor as a mediating tool for community membership and interaction. In the Western European tradition, knowledge is often represented as a tree; this paper offers the rhizome as an alternate metaphor structure. An ecological metaphor is highlighted as a constructive and sustainable metaphor and the concept of a school as an information ecology is discussed. This paper further identifies the actions and relationships that are inherent among members of a school as mediated with an ecological metaphor, specifically collaboration. A fictional case study ofa collaborative teacher dyad is described and analyzed in order to illustrate the impact of teacher collaboration on the teachers directly involved as well as the community as a whole. The goal of this paper is to identify the elements of a constructive and sustainable community of practice. The choice of a rhizomatic metaphor, united with an openness to collaborative relationships enables the school community to become a true community of practice. 11 TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ................. .. ........... .... .. ........................ ..................... ........... .. ......................................... ............ ii Table of Contents .............................................. ........................................................................... .......... iii Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................... ......... ... iv SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION ..................... ........................................................ ..... ... ....... .... ............ . 1 Motivation for the project ...... ..... .... .......... ... .................... .................................. ............. ..... ........ 1 Professional relationships .................................................................................. ........ ... ... 1 Graduate work .................................................................................................................. 3 Purpose of this project ................................................................................................................. 5 SECTION 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ............ ..... ....... ............................................................ .............. 8 Metaphor ........................................................................................................................ ..... .. .... .. 9 Information Ecology ...................................................................................................... 11 Diversity ................................ .. ................ ... ................ ......................... ............... 13 Locality ................................................................................................. ............. 15 Keystone Species ................................................................................ ..... .......... 15 Co-evolution ............................................................................................. ......... 16 Collaboration ................................................................................................................ .... ..... .. .. 18 SECTION 3: A STORY ILLUSTRATING THE COLLABORATIVE CYCLE ........................ ........... 20 The Story .................................................................................................................................... 20 Self-Efficacy ................................................................................................................... 21 Zone of Proximal Development ..................................................................................... 23 Mastery Experience ....................................................................................................... 26 Participatory Appropriation ........................................................ ...... .. .. ........................ .. 27 Vicarious Experience ............................................................................................... ....... 29 Collective Efficacy ......................................................................................................... 30 Community of Practice ....... ... ..... ...................... ......... ... ..................................... ...... ...... 31 SECTION 4: CONCLUSIONS ........ .................. ... .................................. ............ ................ .... ..... ...... .... 34 Applications to Practice ... ...... ........ ... ............................................................. ...... ..................... . 35 REFERENCES ....................................................................................................................................... 38 11l ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I feel great gratitude to my first professional learning community: the executive committee of the British Columbia Teachers of English Language Arts, specifically Leyton Schnellert, David Ellison and Myriam Dostert. I was inducted into a caring community of educators who supported and encouraged the development of my leadership skills and confidence. The power of community continues to inform my identity as an educator. Thank you to Leyton Schnellert for modelling an intense passion for professional development and the gift of creating space for everyone in the room to share their wisdom. Thank you to David Ellison for welcoming me to the profession of teaching. You opened your home and your filing cabinet and always make me feel welcome in both. Myriam Dostert inducted me into my second learning community: the knitting, spinning and fabric arts community. My learning journey as a knitter and spinner has been invaluable in my reflections on teaching and learning, providing rich insights and mindful moments. I would like to thank Marlene Asselin, my program adviser, for helping me complete my program and Margot Filipenko, my graduation paper instructor, for giving me the support and guidance I needed to write this paper. I would not have been able to distill my ideas enough to write this paper without the conversations I have enjoyed with my colleagues. Thank you to my colleagues at Laura Secord Elementary, and to my colleagues in my graduate classes for the hours of rich conversation and debate on the connections of theory to practice. A special thank you to Megan Gelb for making sure I had all the forms I needed and for helping me complete this final step. Thank you Megan for reading my work and for listening to me when I needed to "talk it out." I would like to thank my family for being proud of me and never doubting my choices. I am deeply in debt to my mother, Margaret Brownrigg, for instilling in me a love of learning and a IV sensitivity all other living beings. Thank you mum for who I am. Thank you to my father, Patrick Brownrigg, and step-mother, Beverley Child, for always offering an oasis and refuge from the stresses and hectic pace of my academic and professional life. To my brother, sister-out-law, and sister - Liam, Deb, and Margaret - I am eternally grateful that you continue to bring nature and creativity into my life. Thank you for reminding me that it is important to follow my passions. Finally, I can not begin to express my gratitude to my fiance, Chris McGuigan. You have supported me in every way at every step of my studies. Thank you for letting me come home and tell you about what I had been reading and/or talking about. Thank you for letting me convince you to try things with your students when I didn't have any of my own. Thank you for believing in me through the hard parts and letting me make my 'office' on the dinning room table. It's your tum now and I will do the same for you. v SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION Motivation for the project I believe that the social and emotional motivations of friends and colleagues are important but I am often limited by my own perspective. I find that "in the moment" interactions with friends and colleagues can move at a quick pace and a particular habit of mind is needed if I am to act and respond in a way that benefits the relationships I value. Social and emotional motivations are also often overlooked or devalued in professional contexts. World-view and philosophical influences (whether conscious or unconscious) as elements of community, and how my worldview interacts with the worldviews of others, continues to intrigue me. I find that I am often distracted by my busy schedule when I want to be fully present in my interpersonal relationships, or any activity. I enjoy activities that require me to slow down and spend time working through a process. For instance I explore textile arts, such as knitting and spinning yarn, as a hobby. The process of spinning and knitting a garment requires patience and mindfulness. Through working with the fibre, I develop an understanding of its nature - its strengths, weaknesses, characteristics - I would not have through a faster method. As I reflect on my relationships, I have often visualized my social contexts with spacial metaphors - for instance, concentric circles - or as patterns in relationship webs. My desire to slow down and thoughtfully consider my relationships with the people and things in my life has led me to my study of collaboration and ways I can mediate the complex interactions of my communities. Professional Relationships My interest in relationships and interaction influences my professional life; I am a highly social person at work, more so than in my personal life. I work much more effectively, producing more thoughtful pedagogical materials, in have been able to talk with one or more colleagues about it. I get excited when I have an idea which was sprouted from a colleague's comment or idea. 1 Occasionally, I even develop new ideas from my own ideas as I speak them aloud in conversation. Talk as a mediator for thought is extremely important to me. Being an active member of a community is integral to my practice as an educator; the activity which I believe most represents active community membership is collaboration. My teaching career started with my induction into a community of practice: the provincial specialist association for teachers of English language arts. In my practicum, my English language arts sponsor teacher, David Ellison, was heavily involved in professional development - informally, with his local and school district, as well as with his provincial organization. He exemplified for me the value in being part of a community and I learned how my practice was better when supported by interactions with my colleagues. Dave actively encouraged me to pursue publication in the British Columbia Teachers of English Language Arts (BCTELA) professional journal and nominated me for a seat on the organization's executive committee. I have been a member of the BCTELA executive committee for almost as long as I've been a certified teacher; I am currently serving my third term as Vice-President. My challenging first few years of teaching were counterbalanced by my membership in the community ofBCTELA. Working as a teacher-on-call- with no regular school community-can be a very isolating and demoralizing reality. My regular interactions with like-minded colleagues from around the province provided me with a professional value system that influenced, and continues to influence, my identity as an educator. This value system is heavily shaped by collegiality and collaboration and is the basis of my educational and professional philosophy. My rejection of the type of isolation traditionally associated with classroom teaching was one of the major factors in my decision to become a teacher-librarian. The role of the teacher-librarian is highly collaborative and offers many ways in which to interact with all members of the school community. In my studies ofteacher-librarianship, I developed an interest in the 2 relationships among the adults in the school community. In the advocacy campaigns to protect school libraries and teacher librarians' positions much has been written about the teacher librarian's relationship with students, the actual teaching which is inherent in the role, as well as how teacher-teacher librarian collaboration positively affects students' academic achievement. However, I have found that there is less written about the relationships between the teachers and the teacher-librarian and the effects of collaboration on the adults in the community. My choice to pursue my Master's Degree in teacher librarianship has allowed me to delve deeper into research and reflect on the multifaceted role of the teacher librarian and their interdependent relationships embedded in a school community. Graduate work I have been significantly influenced by three courses in particular in my graduate studies. The first course, chronologically, was an EPSE (Educational Psychology) course called Social Perspectives on Learning. In this course I explored more deeply Lev Vygotsky's theory of the zone of proximal development, and developed a deeper understanding of mediation and social learning which I used as a lens to examine practicing teacher collaboration. I was reminded in this course of how critical it is to really see the learner and understand what he or she brings to the learning situation. No matter who they are, every learner arrives in every moment with a unique set of experiences, perceptions, and relationships. This unique positioning affects the learning and teaching, which can occur at any particular moment: hindering or facilitating, depending on how much is taken into account. I also began to develop my view of the possibility that the two individuals in Vygotsky's expert-novice dyad can be both expert and novice: there may be multiple and reciprocal zones of proximal development in a collaborative relationship. The second course which has greatly affected my conceptual understanding of my practice was an EDCP (Curriculum and Pedagogy) course, A Review of the Research in Curriculum and 3 Pedagogy. Here I was introduced to the rhizome metaphor as an alternate way of knowing to the traditional image of the tree of knowledge. My current understanding of organizational structures, and of collective identities, has been articulated thanks to this foundational metaphor. Building on the importance of the rhizome metaphor, I began to scrutinize how the language used to represent (talk, write, think about) an idea fundamentally influences how we act in relation to that idea, which then influences how we continue to think and represent, and so on. We use language to mediate our experiences and language is not independent from the experience. I am cognisant of how the language with which I am most comfortable may limit my potential to see the possibilities of other perspectives and interpretations. The third course which has significantly contributed to my growth as an educator, and citizen, was another EDCP course which focused on place-based education. This course provided me with an opportunity to situate some of my understandings about individuals and communities of learners from the above mentioned courses. In this course place was discussed not solely as a physical construct, but also through a social lens. When place is examined as a social construct, social justice becomes a primary consideration. The place in which learning and teaching takes place may have as much relevance as the people who are doing the learning and teaching. My emerging awareness of place (environmental, political, social) has helped me create some context for my thinking. When I assess the zone of proximal development of a learner (of any age), I must take in to account our relationship in situ. Similarly, if I am to participate in a rhizomatic learning community, I must be aware of how my language is heard in context ofthe other voices/echoes in situ. It is one thing to contemplate complex and intensely personal concepts and understandings. It is quite another to develop habits of mind that embody these understandings so that I can enact them in my practice. My graduate studies have presented me with a multitude of opportunities to 4 expand my worldview but it takes time for disparate lenses and ideas to come together into a coherent and sustainable shift in my habits of mind and practice. This paper is my effort to articulate the synthesis of my core understandings. The time spent revisiting the core theoretical constructs in preparation for this paper allowed me to examine how to expand my practice accordingly. The finished product is a milestone in my continuing journey to explore and improve my practice. Purpose of this project This paper is centred around the belief that teachers' collaborative relationships are necessary to an effective, sustainable and rewarding school environment. There is a growing body of professional literature that supports claims that teacher/teacher-librarian collaboration has a positive effect on student achievement (Montiel-Overall, 2005, 2006; Haycock, 2007; Lindsay, 2006; Small, 2010; Sergiovanni, 2004). Collaboration between teachers furthers the depth of planning that goes into a lesson or unit, enabling that lesson or unit to more effectively meet the diverse learning needs of students. Co-teaching exposes students to more than one instructional voice and may provide points of entry to, and engagement with, the curriculum which may not be available with one teacher in the room. Collaboration among teachers in a school community also models for students many of the aspects oflife-long learning we are trying to teach such as: cooperation, communication, time-management, excitement, and the value of different perspectives. Collaboration among teachers provides tremendous value for the teachers themselves. Teaching and learning often occur simultaneously (Vygotsky, 1978). The application of theories of mediated learning to teachers' professional development and practice is logical if we accept that learning is not limited by age. In addition, teachers' collegial collaboration imparts benefits on colleagues not directly associated in the act of collaboration: the collaboration between two 5 teachers does not occur in a vacuum. The school community in which teachers practice has influence on, and is affected by, collaborative relationships (Bandura, 1993; Ash-Levitt, 2003 ; Cantrel & Hughes, 2008; Akhavan, 2005). Viewing oneself as a contributing member of a caring, supportive community has a positive effect on perceptions of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1993). Conversation and collaboration can be generative: teachers must constantly adapt their practice to the changes in the student population and in the world. A school culture that supports collaboration, supports innovation and positive attitudes towards learning. In a supportive and sustainable school culture collaborative events will feed feelings of success and efficacy back into the community and will enable more authentic teaching and learning experiences for all. This paper will discuss the way in which an ecological metaphor can mediate a constructive and sustainable school community by facilitating a cycle of peer-based teacher collaboration that contributes to a dynamic information ecology. Guiding metaphors can mold teachers' thoughts and actions regarding their school community (Beck, 1999; Martinez, Sauleda & Huber, 2001; Patchen & Crawford, 2011; Singh, 2010), thereby molding the nature of the community itself. If a rhizome metaphor is chosen, and the school is viewed as an ecological system, specifically an information ecology, the resulting frame of mind regarding interactions and relationships among teachers will be inclined toward collaboration (Nardi & O'Day, 1999; O'Day, 2000; Perrault, 2007). Teacher-librarians have a unique position in a school organization as they may be one of a small number, or the only non-enrolling teacher who is not tied to a specific group or population of students. Collaboration between teachers and teacher-librarians has an integral role in the definition and sustainability of an information ecology (Perrault, 2007). When teachers and teacher-librarians engage in collaboration, they are engaging in a form of professional development (Haycock, 2007; lohnson, 2003; Lindsay, 2006; Montiel-Overall, 2005; Musanti & Pence,2010; Oberg, 1990; Reed, 6 2009). In every collaborative relationship, each teacher works within his or her zone of proximal development and through a successful collaboration, experiences an increase of perceived self-efficacy (Ash & Levit, 2003; Bandura, 1993; Cantrel & Hughes, 2008; Vygotsky, 1978). This paper will further describe a cycle of peer-based teacher collaboration that contributes to a dynamic information ecology. Individual teachers' increased perceived self-efficacy in tum impacts the collective efficacy of the information ecology (Bandura, 1993; Cantrel & Hughes, 2008). The positive experiences ofthe teachers directly involved in collaboration will be lived vicariously through the legitimate peripheral participation of other members of the school community (Cantrel & Hughes, 2008; Rogoff, 1995). The influence spreads laterally through the information ecology, changing with additions or diversions at every node (teacher) and facilitates subsequent collaborative relationships (O'Riley, 2003). This influence becomes perpetual in a sustainable information ecology and the rhizome metaphor chosen to mediate the culture of the school is reinforced: the shared language, values and experiences creating a dynamic community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wubbels, 2007). 7 SECTION 2: LITERATURE REVIEW In the common image of a Canadian classroom, despite many of the variations that may colour individual constructions, one element is often the same: there is one teacher, working alone, teaching between twenty and thirty-five students. A single teacher preparing and administering the lessons and then assessing and classifying students' understanding has been the norm in North America since the early- to mid-twentieth century (Beck, 1999). This arrangement was developed in a bureaucratic commitment to efficiency and productivity that lead to the creation of educational systems based on a factory model and a worldview that understood information as static and hierarchical (Beck, 1999). The purpose of school in such a world is to teach an established and delineated body of knowledge; proficiency at working with peers or with new information was not a priority (Wells & Claxton, 2002). Today, the concept of what is knowable has blossomed; access to information, and tools of knowledge construction are becoming ubiquitous (Nardi & O'Day, 2000). In response to the shifting landscape of information and knowledge, understandings of the purpose of school are being re-examined and changing accordingly (Lemke, 2002). There is a new interest in community and interpersonal relationships, which were once taken for granted, and there is a renewed study of the impact of elements of the community on the learning environment (Beck, 1999; Wells, 2002; Wubbels, 2007; Haycock, 2007; Montiel-Overall, 2005; Nardi & O'Day, 1999; Perrault, 2007). The idea of the school setting as a community means different things to different people (Beck, 1999). The school setting contains complex social relationships; these relationships have been explored using a range of terms such as "village" (Lemke, 2002) and "community of practice" (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Lave and Wenger (1991) defined a community of practice as when there is "participation in an activity system about which participants share understandings concerning what they are doing and what that means in their lives and for their communities" (p. 98). The term 8 "community of practice" has been adopted by many scholars who write about the interpersonal relationships and the community that forms around a common activity, such as a school (e.g., Claxton, 2002; Rogoff, 1995; Wells, 2002). As educators reflect on the school communities in which they teach and learn, the importance of how participation in the community is mediated by the participants becomes an essential component. Martinez et ai. (2001) point out that in fields such as education, "practitioners are unconsciously guided by images and metaphorical patterns of thought (p. 966)." The metaphors used to understand the individual interactions and relationships within a school community may vary but the psychological baring on practice is constant (Beck, 1999): our primary metaphors are based on physical experiences in the environment, and in turn our metaphors mediate our understanding ofthe actions and reactions available to us in the community (Martinez et aI., 2001). Schools contribute to the independence and interdependence of its members in different ways depending on the type of metaphor used to frame or mediate a member's understanding of the community and his or her position within it. It is important for all members of a school community to "look closely at metaphors, because the way we use language conditions our thinking" (Nardi & O'Day, 1999, p 25) Metaphor The elements of a community are many and their interactions with each other and the environment are complex. Humans use metaphor as a way to conceptually organize complex phenomena, such as participation in a community, in order to understand and express our experience within it (Lakoff, in Singh, 2010). The use of metaphor allows us to go "beyond the literal in order to create [our] own understanding of reality" (Ortony, in Singh, 2010 pI28). Andrew Ortony, in his book Metaphor and Thought, identifies metaphors as "a cognitive, rather than a purely linguistic endeavour, allowing abstract concepts to be dealt with more concretely by 9 couching the unfamiliar in a a familiar framework" (Ortony, in Singh, 2010 p12S). Discussions of metaphor can be a way to access individuals' understandings of community relationships and interactions when there are personal and social barriers to discussing them directly. They may also act as a guide when choosing which types of interactions to nurture and which ones to avoid. The metaphor we choose "determines our vision of the world before us," and therefore acknowledgement of our guiding metaphor is essential to envisioning a learning community (Singh, 2010 p.12S). The examination of the metaphors in use in an educational context is valuable to all members of an educational community. The identification of a guiding metaphor provides a structure that teachers can use to visualize and express their ideas in a more concrete way, providing a way to tap into areas beyond teachers' conscious perceptions that shape interaction with colleagues, information, tools and students (Singh, 2010; Pratchen and Crawford, 2011). The activities and the relationships among the individuals in a school environment are conceptualized with metaphors that impact how the participants enact their roles and relationships (O'Day, 2000; Bowers, 2002; Pratchen and Crawford, 2011). Historically, in Western European and modem North American settings, the conceptual metaphors associated with education are often hierarchical and isolated, allowing for little interaction between people or activities either vertically or horizontally. Based in a paradigm wherein learning is the individual acquisition of knowledge, these metaphors create isolated, sterile and inauthentic teaching and learning situations when they are the sole conceptual frame (Beck, 1999). The lack of authenticity in this narrow lens is now being recognized and challenged. The interest in understanding learning as situated in a community, as opposed to learning as an isolated and individual process, "draws our attention to social processes and joint activities, by which common tasks are solved and relevant knowledge and skills are mediated" (Martinez et aI, 2011, p967). Relationships and interactions within the 10 learning community are central to the teaching and learning taking place therein. While attention is growing regarding metaphors of interpersonal relationships and the school environment as it pertains to students, less attention has been paid to the relationships and interactions in the school environment as it pertains to teachers and other adults in the school community: their relationships with each other, the educational tools available to them and their understanding of their role within the school community (Moore, 1999; Nardi & Q'Day, 1999). Mediating metaphors of the schoolleaming environment that emphasize the sterile isolation of individual learning processes, affects teachers in the multiple ways they interact with each other, with their students, and with the information they must teach. The development of isolation metaphors of teaching and learning leads to isolating work habits and the tendency to attempt to address professional and pedagogical questions alone. This lack of collegial collaboration impedes the kind of participation in professional development that openly examines practice in a safe and constructive way (Haycock, 2007; Johnson, 2003; Musanti & Pence, 2010). Teachers' underlying metaphors of teaching and learning, and of their relationship to the school environment - whether conscious or not - are central to understanding relational experiences and the way we act on that understanding (Lakoff, 1992). Articulating and examining the active mediating metaphors of school communities recognizes that metaphors have the capacity to help "uncover and mediate the relationship between thought and action, as well as provide the potential for changing both" (Pratchen and Crawford, 2011 p287). If educators want resilient, sustainable school communities, an enabling metaphor is needed as a functional point of view, or blueprint of professional thinking (Martinez et aI, 2001). Information Ecology To counteract the effects of the traditional isolating conceptual metaphor, members of the school community may instead view themselves as an ecology. The structure of an ecological 11 metaphor is akin to the rhizome in the biological sense. A fundamental difference between a rhizomatic metaphor and a hierarchical metaphor is that in the former, there is no single core or centre of knowledge on which everyone depends: each member acts as a node in the system and is connected to all other members by a network of pathways (O'Riley, 2003). Teachers who understand their collegial culture as an ecological framework are more likely to collaborate in their planning and instructional practice, including being more open to integrated curricula (Musanti & Pence, 2010). They are also more likely to embody the values of an ecological framework when interacting with their students which, in tum, imprints on the students' ways of being, including approaches to learning (Wells, 2002). Bonnie Nardi and Vicki O'Day (1999) build on an ecological frame with their concept of an information ecology, which they describe as a functioning system of people, tools and information which are interlinked and interdependent. Nardi and O'Day (2000) propose the idea of an information ecology as "a particular way of paying attention" to the ways we interact with digital technologies and information (p.36). The "particular way of paying attention" also applies to the ways in which we interact with the people in the community. Nardi and O'Day specifically define an information ecology as "a system of people, technologies, practices, and values in a local setting" (p.36) A school is an example of a local setting in which people, technologies, practices and values interact. The inclusion of values is important because the values held by a particular group are both manifested and influenced by the metaphor with which that group collectively identifies. An information ecology is a self-perpetuating metaphor through its embodied values of collaboration and interdependence. The term ecology is carefully chosen and applied as a metaphor to this understanding of a school culture. According to Nardi and O'Day, there are four characteristics of biological ecologies 12 that are important to an understanding of information ecologies: diversity, locality, keystone species, and co-evolution (O'Day, 2000). The diversity among adults in a school information ecology is sometimes overlooked. In addition to the variety of styles and personalities found among classroom teachers, there are many educators in a school community who are not enrolling classroom teachers. All of these adults have a role to play in the successful fulfilment of the school's goals of teaching and learning. Aspects of locality include the physical spaces and features of the school building and grounds as well as the geographical location of the school community. As in a biological ecology, the understanding oflocality and context is central to understanding how certain agents of change take root and others disappear. Physical spaces drive and are driven by use (Gislason, 2010). The keystone species of an information ecology is often the teacher-librarian (TL) (Perrault, 2007). In a biological ecology, the keystone species is so central to the interaction and evolution of all others that without them the ecology may become unstable. As the (often) only non-enrolling teacher who is not tied to a particular group of students, the TL may be the only adult who sees every teacher and almost every student on a regular basis. The TL is often a leader in collaboration with other teachers helping improve instructional practice and integration of new technologies; they often act as models for teachers and students in the development of digitalliteracies (American Association of School Librarians, 2003). Co-evolution occurs in both a biological and information ecology when individuals interact with other elements of the system. Changes in one element/species can affect all other elements/species in the ecology: teachers co-evolve when they share ideas and practices collaboratively. All four of these central aspects -diversity, locality, keystone species, and co-evolution - when embraced by teachers, may have positive effects on students' learning experiences. Diversity A school's mission toward the acquisition, transmission and exploration of information and 13 knowledge can often overshadow the importance of human individuals in their own right in the community. The recent and sometimes overwhelming prevalence of digital information sources has begun to force educators and researchers to examine the relationships between humans and information, and between information, knowledge, and wisdom. An ecological perspective encourages an understanding that it is the people in a community and the choices they make that create knowledge and wisdom out of information. The same piece of information may circulate through a community many times, influencing the same individuals differently at different times and contributing to different constructions of understanding. The application of the information ecology metaphor illuminates the transformation of those who interact with information in different ways and at different rates and how the transformation of information to knowledge can be dependent on this circuit. One teacher's adoption of a new tool or integration of a piece of information into an existing schema will likely affect the other members of the ecology and their reception to the new element - some immediately, and some over a longer period of time. The effect may travel different paths simultaneously at different speeds and with varying levels of influence. This rhizome-path is integral to the functioning of the information ecology. The learning environment, and the popUlation of a single class, is part of, but not a direct miniature copy, of the larger school ecology. A new tool or a piece of information may be received in different ways or at different times by different classroom ecologies. It is highly likely that one classes' integration of a new tool or piece of knowledge will influence others, mirroring the behaviours of the adults in the community. In the same way, the collaborative activities of the educators in the community may interact with the same tools, pedagogical methods, and information in different ways and at different rates. A collaborative interaction will impact the rest of the community through legitimate peripheral participation of the other members of the community (Lave & Wenger, 1991). 14 Locality The physical design of the school is believed to affect the learning taking place therein (Gislason, 2010; Woolner, 2010). The impact of physical learning spaces on educational outcomes can be difficult to quantify but their contribution may be assessed holistically (Designs for Learning, 2001). Various elements of the physical space playa role in influencing users' interactions such as acoustics, versatility and amount of space (space to move). However, it should be noted that all areas in a school are potential spaces for learning and therefore every architectural decision impacts the learning environment (Gislason, 2010). Neil Gislason (2010) has identified a dearth of research in the relationship between school architectural design and educational practice and to remedy this has developed a conceptual model "which links school architecture, teaching, and learning" (p.127). He uses Owens and Valesky's school climate model to structure his approach, identifying interactions between four "interconnected dimensions:" the material, organizational, and cultural elements, and the student milieu (Owens & Valesky, cited in Gislason, 2010). While more research is needed in this area, the community's physical spaces remain a constituent element in an ecological understanding of a school community and it is important to note that none of an ecology's elements or members may be properly studied in isolation; we must consider the context in which elements develop (Gislason, 2010; Perrault, 2007). Keystone Species In an information ecology, the teacher-librarian (TL) has a distinct set of knowledge and skills regarding information management and is often considered the keystone species (Perrault, 2007). The TL is also, ideally, centrally situated within the school community, allowing for contact with every member within an (ideally) flexible schedule, and has expertise in building and facilitating collaborative relationships (Wallace & Husid, 2011). Although teachers are in the business of teaching and learning and may be considered experts, they are often framed solely in 15 the role of teacher, and not in that ofthe learner. The TL's specialized knowledge of how to facilitate collaboration is key as "[ c ]ollaboration is as art in itself' and research shows that teachers may feel like "it require[s] a whole process oflearning new skills" (Musanti & Pence, 2010, p. 79). As the keystone species, the TL's presence is "vital to fostering and supporting key ecology activities" (perrault, 2007, p.60). In the school information ecology, there is a healthy flow of ideas, experimentation, and communication between the TL and the other teachers. There is also a strong sense of collegiality between the TL and the administration, the support staff, the parents and any other adults connected to the ecology. The TL is often the first partner of classroom teachers in a collaborative project due to hislher central role within the community. The TL is a major node in the rhizome of the information ecology. All pathways come into contact with the TL, linking him or her with the teaching and learning taking place in every part of the learning community. The experience, insight and evolution gained by the TL through his or her own actions, through collaboration, or through interaction with the network, radiates outward along paths, bridges and lines of communication to diverse actors across the network. The information may pass through these individuals, it may rest with them a while or it may transform them. It may do all three of these things and it may do these things in different sequence for different people. Most importantly, the experience, insight and evolution may return to the TL many times over, from many directions and in many different forms. Co-evolution Co-evolution is perhaps the most important aspect to understanding the development and improvement of teaching practice within a school community. The understanding of diversity and locality and their importance in the interaction of the community, as a whole, is manifested in the simultaneous evolution of community members. The role of the TL as keystone species is 16 highlighted as a facilitator for collaboration and co-evolution. Adults teaching in a traditional school organization, mediated with a hierarchical metaphor can easily become isolated in their own practice. Hongyu Wang, in his essay "The Call from the Stranger: Dwayne Huebner's Vision of Curriculum as a Spiritual Journey" (2002), highlights some related linguistic problems in the Western tradition in the discourse regarding the self. He points out that the language often implies a "stable self, an independent individual and a fixed identity" (p. 293). These ideas are damaging to an ecological understanding because they serve to cut an individual off from all sources of new ideas, other individuals, and networks of support. Rather than live an isolated existence, teachers need to be supported in their learning journeys and encouraged to support and collaborate with their colleagues. The sharing of knowledge and experience for the purposes of collaboration is a creative act (Alqudsi-ghabra, 2007). It requires all parties involved to maintain trust and cultivate confidence in themselves, each other, and their students and to believe in the possibilities of their creative act (Moore, 1999). When teachers have the opportunity, encouragement, and desire to collaborate they are more likely to develop authentic learning situations for their students such as cross-discipline projects and open-ended activities (Haycock, 2007; Montiel-Overall, 2005; Oberg, 1990). New classroom situations not only provide new learning opportunities for students, they also provide the experiences teachers need to evolve in their practice. The rhizomatic nature of the information ecology means that one or a few teachers' exploration(s) of a new teaching idea will travel along and around the paths of communication and interaction throughout the school community, thereby encouraging others to explore the idea or a part thereof in their own way. In tum, these teachers' explorations will be fed back into the network, and so on. This practice, as a fundamental community value, is self-perpetuating: new staff members will be inducted into the school culture. If the information ecology is healthy and functional, while 17 the appearance of the community may change, the rhizomatic patterns should remain. Students will eventually follow the models set by their teachers and may begin to exhibit an openness and collaborative spirit in their classroom interactions if teachers are transparent in their own collaboration (Montiel-Overall, 2005). Collaboration Peer collaboration has vital importance to the establishment and maintenance of a community of practice, especially in a school community (Wells, 2002). Collaborative interaction aids continual learning and development among teachers and other staff; interaction helps produce a common discourse, common values and expectations and a shared purpose, all of which are essential criteria of a community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Peer collaboration has been shown to have an important role in professional development and affects individual teachers as well as the larger school community (Reed, 2009). Early in the twentieth century, Lev Vygotsky understood the importance of the social element to learning and development; his theories continue to have relevance today (Wertsch, 1985). Vygotsky's theories regarding the importance of social relationships have provided the foundation for many other theories that study learning and development (i.e. Rogoff, 1995; Wells & Claxton, 2002; Wertsch, 1985). Teacher collaboration that contributes positively to a dynamic community of practice can be interpreted as a cycle that combines Vygotsky's theory of the zone of proximal development (1978) with Albert Bandura's (1993) theory of self-efficacy and Barbara Rogoff's (1995) theory of participatory appropriation. Vygotsky's theory of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) is most commonly understood as an interaction between two individuals: one knowledgeable mentor, or expert, and the other the ignorant apprentice, or novice. When applying this frame to the professional 18 collaboration activities of educators, it is necessary to understand both parties as expert and novice. Teacher collaboration is a complex activity and there are multiple elements of teaching and learning at play: knowledge of the content area, knowledge of the development levels, learning strengths, and personalities of the students under the care of the classroom teacher(s), knowledge ofthe prescribed learning outcomes for topic and level at hand, and knowledge of the collaborative process itself. It is likely that no one teacher will be the expert in all of these elements, nor would it be desirable. Rather, each teacher will take on the roles of both the expert and novice, depending on the element, and will actively engage with their collaborative partner in multiple zones of proximal development at the same time. In this way, knowledge and wisdom are distributed and the learning community is resilient and responsive to environmental or membership changes. The learning community, understood as an information ecology, is constantly changing and adapting to new members, information, tools, and practices and "everyone can to some degree be considered a 'newcomer' to the future of a changing community" (Lave and Wenger, 1991, p117). 19 SECTION 3: A STORY ILLUSTRATING THE COLLABORATIVE CYCLE When explicating the collaborative cycle, the names or labels of the individuals must be clear to ensure the discussion does not become confused. The use of labels such as "expert" and "novice" are inaccurate as both individuals embody states of both expert and novice in a professional collaborative relationship. In order to facilitate my discussion of the collaborative cycle, I will use a fictionalized account of a collaborative teacher dyad where one character is a classroom teacher and the other is a non-enrolling teacher. As the story unfolds, I will highlight and define the elements of the cycle and describe how each might look in practice. The Story Brooke and Krista are teachers at Mt. Book middle-school, with a student population of around 500. Brooke is a science teacher and Krista is a non-enrolling teacher collaborator. The non-enrolling collaborative position was created two years ago; there has been a research-based funding initiative to support peer collaboration among the staff and Krista, a teacher-librarian at a previous school, was awarded the position. She has been generally accepted into the social circles among the staff, but has not yet had a chance to work with Brooke. Lately, the topic of backwards curriculum design (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) has come up in casual conversations in the staffroom and, to a lesser extent, in formal discussions in staff and department meetings. Brooke and Krista have discussed working together at some point and this topic seems to be something in which both teachers are interested. Krista has attended workshops on backwards design and reads professional articles to stay updated on developments in curriculum design. She has colleagues who have started using this method of curriculum planning at other schools. Krista also keeps abreast of professional literature on teacher collaboration. Brooke is a competent science teacher in the eighth year of her career. She does not always 'buy into' professional development seminars and workshops as she does not always see the direct 20 application to her classes and she feels that it is impractical to reconstruct her curriculum while she is teaching it. She tends to teach to the middle ability in her class because that was what her mentor did when she started teaching and she has not observed another teacher s classroom practice in action since her practicum. Self-Efficacy Self-efficacy is representative of an individual's perceived ability to "produce changes [in one's environment] by perseverant effort and creative use of capabilities and resources" (Bandura, 1993, p. 125). The concept of teacher efficacy is based on two factors: outcome expectations and efficacy expectations (Cantrel & Hughes, 2008). Cantrel and Hughes (2008) cite Albert Bandura's work, explaining "outcome expectations" as an individual's expectations of an outcome as a consequence of a particular behaviour, and "efficacy expectations" as that individual's belief in their own ability to achieve a desired outcome (p. 99). There have been tests and questionnaires developed to assess teachers' efficacy beliefs, but it is possible to gather enough informal information through conversation noting comments such as "When it comes right down to it, a teacher really can't do much [because] most of a student's motivation and performance depends on his or her home environment," and "In try really hard, I can get through to even the most difficult or unmotivated students" (Berman et aI., cited in Cantrel & Hughes, 2008, p. 99). In this peer collaboration cycle which can ultimately lead to a positive, dynamic community of practice, teachers' self-efficacy beliefs are even more important than the particular topic chosen by the collaborating dyad. The success of Krista and Brooke in their chosen project will have as much to do with their individual efficacy beliefs, and possibly more, than it will with any concrete element (Reed, 2009; Cantrel & Hughes, 2008; Bandura, 1993). The teachers on staff at Mt. Book vary in their reports of perceived efficacy regarding their ability to affect any major change in the lives of their students. There is a general sentiment that 21 the students of today are in some way different than they used to be because of the proliferation of digital technologies. A few teachers tried to change and update their practice years ago, following pedagogical trends, but the changes were sporadic and isolated and, having no unified or immediate social support, the innovations soon atrophied. Brooke falls somewhere in the middle among her peers in her self-efficacy beliefs: she believes that she can help many different types of students grow and develop but she has less confidence in her ability to work with the assigned curriculum. Krista s self-efficacy is reasonably high. She has co-planned and co-taught lessons and units with a variety of classroom and non-enrolling teachers in the past and has experienced successful as well as less successful partnerships. She has reflected on the less successful experiences as well as the successful ones and believes that she can utilize what she has learned in future projects. Once Krista and Brooke agreed on backwards design as a topic of interest, Krista engaged Brooke in a conversation about Brooke s general impressions of the current effectiveness of her classroom practice before discussing backwards design specifically. Krista s confidence, stemming from her previous successful collaborative experiences provided Brooke with a vicarious confidence of a promising outcome in redesigning a unit of the curriculum. Research has shown that addressing teachers' efficacy beliefs when introducing new practices is essential (Cantrel & Hughes, 2008). The school community's history of atrophy of new practices and initiatives illustrates the importance of material and psychological support in the study and improvement of teachers' practice (Demir, 2008; Gislason, 2010; Haycock, 2007). Efficacy beliefs are a major element in the mobilization of the zone of proximal development as self-efficacy is linked to the dual control process of "motivating discrepancy production" (the setting of challenging goals), followed by "discrepancy reduction" (working to achieve those goals) (Bandura, 1993, p. 132). Krista chose to highlight Brooke's general strengths before focusing on 22 what has not yet been learnt in order to bolster Brooke's efficacy beliefs, ensuring a positive start to the collaborative project (Bandura, 1993; Reed, 2009). Krista also made her past successes available to Brooke through her confidence in the collaboration process (Cantrel & Hughes, 2008). The perceived self-efficacy of both Krista and Brooke may fluctuate over the course of this project. Particularly, efficacy beliefs may drop when the new strategy is first adopted (Cantrel & Hughes, 2008). Efficacy beliefs may also dip if and when interpersonal conflicts develop; in both cases efficacy beliefs may improve as the difficulties are worked through, especially if they are addressed in a respectful and supportive way within the collaborative relationship (Cantrel & Hughes, 2008). Within the larger cycle of teacher collaboration, with a goal ofleading to a positive and dynamic community of practice, there is a smaller reiterative cycle that lasts the length of a particular collaborative project. The starting point for this smaller cycle is the acknowledgement of a teacher's self-efficacy and includes the zone of proximal development and mastery experience. Zone of Proximal Development Vygotsky's (1978) concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) supports the position that once the completed learning has been established, one must then look to what the learner can accomplish in collaboration with another individual; this potential for learning is, in fact, more important in an educational context than what has already been learned. Two individuals who are accurately assessed as being at the same level of competence regarding independent problem solving may have widely divergent results when given more diffIcult tasks and offered help from another person. Vygotsky described a scenario wherein two ten-year-old boys were both assessed as having the same intellectual age (eight years) when asked to complete tasks independently, but when given more difficult tasks and provided with some guidance one boy performed at a level that was markedly more advanced than the other. This difference, between what the two children could do independently and what they were able to accomplish with the help 23 of another person, is their zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978). The zone of proximal development is "the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving .. . in collaboration with more capable peers" (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86). The ZPD requires that there be a relationship of interaction between two individuals, which may take forms such as verbal dialogue and non-verbal modelling (Vygotsky, 1978). In a peer-based collaborative activity, the teaching often associated with the ZPD can be replaced by the concept ofmentoring (Williams, 2001). For each skill or construct, a ZPD is bounded, on one end, by one teacher's capacity to perform on his or her own and, on the other, by what s/he can accomplish with the help of her peer. Krista and Brooke s relationship is conducive to accessing, working and learning within their zones of proximal development because they have divergent, but overlapping expertise. On one hand, Krista knows more about their chosen topic of backwards design because she has read about the concept in professional reference publications and she has seen it in action in other teachers' classrooms. She is also more experienced in collaborative planning in general, having participated in previous partnerships. In these areas, Krista will act as the more capable peer while Brooke will work within her ZPD. On the other hand, Brooke has specialized knowledge of the students in her classes. She also knows the scope and sequence of her existing curriculum; this is information that will be important for the implementation of a new design tool such as backwards design. In matters pertaining to the specific learning environment in Brooke s classes, Brooke is the more capable peer and Krista will work within her own ZPD. Once they have addressed and acknowledged, through conversation, their respective efficacy beliefs, Krista and Brooke may engage in discussion about all the different factors that will be part of their project. They will also discuss specific curricular goals Brooke may have which can be used as the 24 constituents for their exploration of backwards design. In a situation where two individuals come together and wish to interact within a common activity, both participants must endeavour to share a common vantage point (Wertsch, 1985). In a collaborative relationship, conversation is very important to this purpose. Rommetveit (cited in Wertsch, 1985) emphasized that the use of speech (conversation) "serves to impose a particular interpretation and create a temporarily shared social reality" (p. 160). This "shared social reality" creates a state of "intersubjectivity" that is the common ground on which Krista and Brooke collaborate and develop new understandings (Wertsch, 1985, p.160/p.159). Krista and Brooke are constantly renegotiating their understanding oftheir relationship with each other with respect to their various zones of proximal development; each time an understanding is developed, the relative ZPD is revised (Ash & Levitt, 2003). Krista and Brooke examine together the concept of backward design and begin to apply it to the curricular subject Brooke has identified as a good match. They share their respective ~ expertise in curricular design and the curriculum to be designed. They also share their respective experiences of dealing with other individuals: Krista shares knowledge gained from previous collaborative projects and Brooke shares her intimate knowledge of her individual students, their interpersonal dynamics, and their age group in general. Occasionally there are hitches: episodes of discord as both teachers adapt their existing schema to the new information and experiences they encounter in the project; a lesson plan Krista has suggested goes horribly awry; the initial curricular topic Brooke choose must be modified drastically for it to fit with the pedagogical philosophy of backwards design, causing Brooke to briefly question her entire understanding of pedagogical philosophy - and then become defensive and angry. At these points, Brooke and Krista would discuss a plan for improvement, revisit the initial motivation for collaborating, or take some time for the frustration to dissipate. At intervals over the course of the process, Krista 25 pauses their work and engages Brooke in a reflective activity. This reflection helps both teachers focus on the gains made so far and to understand and articulate the dynamic path of their efficacy beliefs since the beginning of the project. The ZPD is one ofVygotsky's "most concrete ideas about the relationship between interpsychological and intrapsychological functioning" (Wertsch, 1985, p. 67). As the cycle progresses, the conversations and interactions between Krista and Brooke and with their work, start to be internalized. This understanding and articulation of their journey so far also begins the process of internalization of the skills and habits learnt during the project; there is a "deepening of understanding ofthe topic and ofthe goal for both participants" (Ash & Levitt, 2003, p. 44). Their ideas and the means they developed to enact them are adopted by both teachers and added to their individual schema to be used in future situations. The addition of new ideas and skills is not always without conflict: Brooke and Krista both will repeatedly face challenges to familiar and accepted schema which will require support and space for personal growth (Ask & Levitt, 2003). This process of adopting and adapting products of the collaborative; interpsychological interaction to an intrapsychological plane involves Barbara Rogoff's (1995) theory of participatory appropriation, discussed below. Mastery Experience Cantrel and Hughes (2008) identified mastery experience as one of the four sources of information from which teacher efficacy is derived. Mastery experiences refer to the prior experiences in which an individual has felt successful that contribute to expectations of future success in similar situations. At the beginning of the project, Krista drew on a stronger feeling of mastery experience of collaboration than did Brooke, who's collaborative experience was minimal. Krista shared her confidence with Brooke who thereby experienced Krista's past experience vicariously. 26 Krista and Brooke s collaborative project - to begin to apply backwards design to Brooke s classroom planning - takes many months. Their process included reading about and discussing the theory behind the process and looking at examples before planning some mini units, applying the principles, together. After every execution of a mini unit Krista and Brooke reflected individually and together on the strengths and weaknesses of what they had just done; the product and it s manifestation in the classroom as well as the process of getting there. Eventually, they built a larger unit with a more provocative guiding question. They implemented the unit together and documented their reflections as a matter of habit. The majority of Brooke s students developed their own paths to understanding, and made connections to the guiding question. They talked about Brooke s classes outside of class time and started to independently apply skills form the unit to other parts of their academic study. Brooke and Krista feel this unit has been a success and Brooke starts thinking of ways she can continue the conversion of the rest of her curriculum plans for next year. Upon successful completion oftheir collaborative project, Krista and Brooke now enjoy a common mastery experience. This experience will serve both teachers in different but positive ways in the future. Bandura (cited in Cantrel & Hughes, 2008), considered the mastery experience to be the most influential factor of future efficacy beliefs and this particular mastery experience would not have been possible for Brooke or for Krista without the mutual support of their collaborative relationship. Participatory Appropriation Ash and Levitt (2003) claim that in a "co-constructed ZPD, participatory appropriation can apply to both [participants] because of the ongoing and changing interpretation of each other's ideas and actions" (p. 27). Participatory appropriation is, according to Rogoff (1995), "the process by which individuals transform their understanding of and responsibility for activities through their 27 own participation" (p. 150). By virtue of having participated in the collaborative partnership, Krista and Brooke are now able to assimilate and adapt the skills and other knowledge they acquired from the process. For instance, Brooke now has a working knowledge of backward design. She can now apply what she has learned from redesigning units with Krista to other curricular content. Subsequently, she may redesign other units using backwards design, however, her approach may not exactly mirror the way she learned how to do it from Krista. She may apply what she knows and she now has the power to adapt the knowledge as she chooses. Participatory appropriation not only occurs at the end of a collaborative proj ect. It constitutes the ongoing process of learning within the ZPD. Appropriation is not the assimilation or internalization of static pieces of information; in this situation there are no static pieces of information. Through participation in an activity, such as Krista and Brooke's engagement in backwards curriculum design, the participants themselves undergo change: the activity itself, and the knowledge within it, is changed and adapted to meet the evolving needs of the participants "since a person who is participating in an activity is part of that activity, not separate from it" (Rogoff, 1995, p. 153). The ongoing mutual feedback and support of Brooke and Krista's collaboration was essential to the appropriation and internalisation of new ideas and methods (Cantrel & Hughes, 2008). This helped both teachers change their practice in significant ways. The mastery experience has changed Brooke's perspective of her practice. It has raised her self-efficacy and soon she will be prepared to engage in"subsequent similar activities" (Rogoff, 1995). Rogoff's theory of participatory appropriation is an extension ofVygotsky's (1978) theory of internalization. A distinction, though, is that despite Vygotsky's concept of OEYL(XEHI1E (obouchenie: teaching and learning), his theory of internalization is generally discussed only as benefiting the novice in a dyad, while Rogoff's theory emphasizes the mutual process of 28 individuals involved in common cultural activities (Rogoff, 1995). Therefore, both Brooke and Krista perform participatory appropriation as they are both equally and actively involved in their collaborative project. It is possible, too, for Krista and Brooke to perform a task within their collaboration without fully understanding it or its purpose. Ash and Levitt (2003) maintained that it is indeed possible for neither individual to have a "full analytical understanding ofthe interaction for it to be effective" (p. 27). Similarly, Wertsch (1985) points out that, rather than understanding a task in its entirety and then doing it, learners will often carry out a task and only then understand it. The practice of reflection, which Krista instigated in her collaboration with Brooke serves to guide the participants to recognize and understand certain tasks they may have performed naturally within their zones of proximal development. Vicarious Experience In their study of team collaboration among middle school teachers, Cantrel and Hughes (2008) found that an extended and collaborative engagement "enabled teachers to work together to experience group-level mastery and to benefit from vicariously experiencing one another's successes" (pp. 119-120). Similarly, throughout the project, Krista and Brooke shared past experiences - difficulties and successes - as vicarious learning experiences. Ultimately, the successful collaboration between Brooke and Krista does not occur in secret, but in public among their colleagues in the school community. One way that Brooke and Krista may celebrate their success is by talking to other colleagues, relating their successes and sharing their struggles and how they overcame them. The confidence displayed, due to Krista and Brooke s mastery experience, becomes a vicarious experience for other colleagues. Indeed, some colleagues may have been following Brooke and Krista s process throughout the collaborative project and were therefore privy to the many iterations of the acknowledgement of efficacy beliefs, identifying the ZP D, the continuous negotiation of learning and understanding, and reflection and 29 therefore have a much deeper and thorough vicarious experience than colleagues who only hear of the project once it is done. Vicarious experiences contribute to teachers' self-efficacy. If a teacher witnesses the positive experience of a colleague, they then become more confident that if they undertake a similar project that they too will be successful (Cantrel & Hughes, 2008). They may also learn from their colleagues' difficulties, even if some or all of those difficulties were never surmounted. Collective Efficacy Collective efficacy is related to self-efficacy beliefs but, as the term suggests, has a larger scope. Teachers, due to the nature ofthe educational institution, operate collectively, not as isolates (Bandura, 1993). Where a teacher's self-efficacy beliefs describe her confidence regarding her ability to effect chosen positive outcomes regarding her practice, collective efficacy is "based on the notion that schools are organizations comprising group members who share perceptions of the abilities and effectiveness ofthe group as a whole and that these shared perceptions ultimately affect the achievement of the students in those schools" (Cantrel & Hughes, 2008, p. 98). Individuals' efficacy beliefs have baring on the community's collective efficacy: if Krista did not see herself as a capable educator who is also authentically learning from her peers, her effectiveness as a leader, and the community by extension, would suffer (Trybus, 2011). As the school's collective efficacy improves, the atmosphere is more conducive to the development of a "common strategy language and a cohesion of strategy use" (Reed, 2009, p. 7). At the beginning of the year the teachers at Mt. Book Secondary exhibited a medium to low collective efficacy. While some teachers had fairly high self-efficacy beliefs regarding their own classroom practice, their expectation of the ability of the school as a whole to affect any positive change in their students' lives that would not normally occur was low. Teachers also felt, on average, that while their practice may be fine on a day-to-day basis with an average student, they 30 may not necessarily be successful in an exceptional situation or with an exceptional student. After many teachers had a vicarious experience of Krista and Brooke s mastery experience, the collective efficacy at Mt. Book improved. The quality and availability of Krista s leadership was also a factor in the changing collective efficacy of the school. As the school s collective efficacy improves, the atmosphere is more conducive to the development of discussion groups and other collaborative activities. Brooke, having appropriated her mastery experience, is now willing to participate in other collaborative projects with other colleagues with Krista as a guide. Soon, there will be more collaborative projects than Krista will be able to manage on her own as her colleagues practice and apply a new conception for professional teaching and learning. However, she will be able to act as a guide and support on some projects and to take a more active role in others. The foundation has been established for ongoing professionalleaming and development because teachers who report high levels of efficacy are more likely to engage in self-reflection and are more likely to attempt to include new strategies in their planning (Haycock, 2007; Musanti & Pence,2010). This atmosphere is sustainable because changes in efficacy and implementation are cyclical and reciprocal (Cantrel & Hughes, 2008). The evolution of the collaborative projects, responding to the needs of individual teachers and guided or supported by Krista, results in the feeling that what was once between collaborative partners eventually resides within each member of the community of practice (Lemke, 2002). Community of Practice Brooke will continue to actively reflect on her practice, including aspects she will not immediately change, and it will become part of her habit of mind as a reflective teacher. She feels comfortable reflecting on her practice because she now understands that identifying areas for improvement is not a sign that she is a poor teacher, or that she is threatening the day-to-day 31 competence of the school as a whole. She generally feels supported by her colleagues and comfortable in the knowledge that she has peers whom she can askfor assistance when needed. When collaborating with other members of the group, both Brooke and Krista are helping build a richer community of practice. Wertsch (1991), quoting Minick, declares that "the action of a dyad or small groups is a component of the social system" (p. 47). In this way, Brooke and Krista's collaboration, while actively involving only two teachers, embodied the spirit of the whole community. Staffs' belief systems "create school cultures that can have vitalizing or demoralizing effects on how well schools function as a social system" (Bandura, 1993, p. 141). Culture, in an institutional sense, can be interpreted as "a particular way of doing, believing and valuing" (Lemke, 2003, p. 36); the mere existence of Krista's position as a non-enrolling collaboration teacher was an indication of the emerging values of the institution. The community of practice only includes those individuals who actually participate in the activities and shared values and practices of the community's culture. With time, the community may grow as vicarious experiences increase the efficacy-beliefs of additional colleagues. The following year, Krista will reach out and work with a few more teachers, the year after that a few more again. She will collaborate with Brooke again and they will continue to develop their understanding of each other, their students and the curriculum. Over time, the majority of teachers at Mt. Book may feel an increased sense of collective-efficacy that likely will positively impact their perceived self-efficacy. This will, in turn, benefit their students and the larger community as the cycle continues. An undefined school culture evolves into a community of practice when there is a "sustained social network of individuals who share and develop an overlapping knowledge base, set of beliefs, values, history, and experiences focused on common practice and/or mutual 32 enterprise" (Barab et at, cited in Wubbels, 2007, p.226). When community members accept and use the rhizomatic metaphor of an information ecology to mediate participation in the school community, collaborative relationships will emerge as the norm. Demir (2008) states that "a norm of collaboration within an organizational culture is likely to enhance teachers' capacity beliefs since responsibility for accomplishing organizational goals is shared. In essence, staff members often talk, observe, critique, and plan together" to reach collaboratively established desired outcomes (p.97). Not all roles must be equal. As in the extended example above, a collaborative event need not involve all members of a community to the same extent because "membership [in a community of practice] includes participation at multiple levels" (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p.98). Lave and Wenger (1991) emphasize that "an extended period of [legitimate, peripheral involvement] provides learners with opportunities to make the culture of practice theirs" (p.95). The act of adopting the community culture and practice is fed through the rhizome pathways and interconnections and enriches and renews the overall community of practice. 33 SECTION 4: CONCLUSIONS Professional development, both individual and collective initiatives, is the way teachers adapt to the changing nature of the profession, of themselves as individuals, and of the diversity of their students; it is unrealistic to expect them to explore these changes alone. Teachers do not operate in isolation, nor do they, or does anyone, learn in isolation. Schools are social systems and are continuously apprenticing students into habits of mind which will serve them as they become full citizens of the world. The application of a cyclical model of teacher collaboration will enhance the teaching and learning conditions within any school by creating a community of practice. The experience of articulating a meaningful goal and working in a collaborative relationship to successfully complete the steps leading to that goal may influence teachers' perspective of their purpose and relevancy and their teacher efficacy. Changes to a student culture start with their teachers. In a world where the future expectations for what students will need to know are elusive, we can only try our best to equip them with practical, versatile, and cooperative life skills. Collegial relationships are of the utmost importance as we strive to implement curricula that will support students in becoming creative and critical thinkers and problem solvers (Hildreth & Kimble, 2008). Gordon Wells (2002) agrees that "the critically important role of dialogic knowledge building in fostering the dispositions of caring, collaborations and critical inquiry that are the heart of our vision of education" (p. 205). The collaborative cycle, in combination with other pedagogical factors, will be the process of renewing our vision and practice in education. The metaphors through which we choose to understand our relationships with people, objects, and places are highly influential upon the ways we act and evolve. Norman Fairclough, quoted by William Doll and Noel Gough (2002), remarks that "when we signify things through one metaphor rather than another, we are constructing our reality one way rather than another" (p.73). 34 An ecology metaphor is exceedingly conducive to community growth and collaborative, authentic teaching and learning experiences. It is important for educators and researchers to understand the impact of a communal organizing metaphor; by honouring the experience of teachers in the school community, they are truly making a positive difference in students' learning experiences. Nardi and O'Day, quoted in Perrault (2007), emphasize the continuity of the school information ecology: Information ecologies are filled with people who learn and adapt and create. Even when tools remain fixed for a time the craft of using tools with expertise and creativity continues to evolve. The social and technical aspects of an environment coevolve. People's activities and tools adjust and are adjusted in relation to each other, always attempting and never quite achieving a perfect fit. This is part of the dynamic balance achieved in healthy ecologies - a balance found in motion, not stillness. (p. 60) If we are to understand the dynamic relationships and interactions, and utilize our understanding to sustainably support our learning communities, we must take care to observe the whole community. Saida Habhan-Rave (2008) draws upon this ecological lens in her discussion of communities of practice when she maintains that "it is not just that every person learns in a context, rather, each person is a reciprocal and mutually constitutive part of that context" (p.214). Each member in the community has value; each member gains identity and strength from community membership but the community, in tum, absorbs that strength, amplifies, and redistributes it throughout the rhizome paths. Applications to Practice My Master's studies have afforded me opportunities to explore multiple perspectives and ways of knowing regarding teaching and learning. As a teacher-librarian, I feel that any insight I 35 have gained through my studies will lack impact in my practice if! do not challenge myself to embody leadership qualities in addition to the pedagogical understandings I have gained. I will need to utilize leadership skills in my interactions with my colleagues in order to spark the collaborative practices in order to facilitate a sustainable rhizomatic community of practice. I will endeavour to apply my understanding of the constructs discussed above to my practice as an educator in three ways: my thoughts, the language I use, and my actions. I will be mindful of the perspective from which I view my school community and my role within it. I will work actively to choose metaphors with which to mediate the complex interrelationships in my community that reinforce the type of community of which I want to be a part, while being aware of the limitations of the mediating metaphors that shape my thoughts and actions. My continuous reflection on my impact on my school culture will inform my interactions. I will speak with language that honours others' perspectives and will continue to engage in informal and formal conversations about teaching and learning with my colleagues as a way to create safe spaces to identify potential areas of professional development. I will also cultivate conversations with my students about their (and my own) learning in order to empower them as members of the learning community. By being attentive to the language used by others, I will work to perpetuate positive sentiment and I will strive to understand the perspectives of my colleagues and students. I will take care to act only once I have reflected on my place within the structure of my community and after I have established and opened the conversations necessary for collegial collaboration. My actions will be largely focused on "empowering others to take action" toward shared goals (Trybus, 2011, 34). I will share what I have learned and expressed here in this paper with my colleagues in the hope that my presentation will create space for conversations about our shared values and goals as a school community. In my role as teacher-librarian, I will continue to 36 foster and support collaborative relationships with my colleagues. I will make connections between research and practice, and between one teacher's classroom practice to that of another, only when it will benefit our articulated goals (so as to not overwhelm). I am excited to continue growing as an educator. As a teacher-librarian I am a major 'node' in my community of practice. The knowledge and understanding I bring to my community will be shared along the many pathways connecting me to all other members. This knowledge will be converted and enriched as it passes through other 'nodes' in the rhizomatic system and will return to me, helping me improve my practice and develop wisdom. 37 REFERENCES Akhavan, N. (2005). 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