The Magic of BRIDGE’s Communities of Practice: Encouraging A Collaborative Spirit

BRIDGE’s National Maths and Science Learner Support Community of Practice (CoP) brings together programme implementers and key investors supporting learners, teachers and schools in Maths and Science. The CoP functions as a collaborative space in which to engage around critical sectoral issues and share working practice. Moipone Maleka, of the Department of Education, is a valued education stakeholder in BRIDGE’s Learner Support Community. The education specialist identified a number of ways in which the CoP has contributed towards a positive impact in her work.

Among the CoPs various contributions, Moipone noted that her membership has helped her build and improve upon her capacity to reflect on her own practice. She explained that the CoP has helped her demonstrate her core function as an advocate of partnership and in so doing enabled her to encourage two teachers from a school in her district, Amos Maphanga Secondary, to participate in the Witwatersrand Maths 1 Connect Project. The Wits project offers courses to teachers and seeks to develop and research models of professional development that will improve teachers’ mathematical knowledge and teaching expertise, and ultimately improve learner performance. Ms Maleka is a member of the project’s steering committee. She described how the Learner Support CoP has shaped her thinking on collaboration and inspired new ways of thinking about synergy and partnerships. It is this newfound thinking that encouraged her to champion the sort of collaborative research and innovation seen in the Wits project. She is excited to get more educators involved in the programme, and collaborative efforts like it, and is currently recruiting teachers for the project’s 2017 intake.

Moipone’s short story highlights a critical function of BRIDGE’s CoPs: to encourage cooperation and networking and foster innovative collaborative models. As she explains, “the Community of Practice contributes to my networking, my continuous learning and my total development.”