I have just returned home from Atlanta, where I had the privilege of attending the 2020 REM Invitational. REM was founded 32 years ago for the purpose of supporting and lifting up underrepresented persons within ACPE. REM had all the marks of a CoP before the term ever gained traction in our organization. The biennial Invitational is central to the life of the community, with consultations, networking, and learning for newcomer and old timer alike. This year there was a plenary address by Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, and several workshops presented by members of the community.
The leadership of REM is and has always been intentional about inviting students to participate. The invitation is there for folks even before their first unit of CPE! And at every step of the vocational journey, REM is there to acknowledge setbacks, celebrate accomplishments, and continue to learn together. In a session for Level I/II CPE students, seasoned educators interpret and decode the language of ACPE standards and outcomes to help make sense of the work. Certified Educators who have recently completed the Certification process share their theoretical foundations and their processes of discovery and practice.
Some of you may remember that Situated Learning Theory (from which Communities of Practice derive) began by exploring relationships among apprentices and masters in guilds. If you picture a series of concentric circles, the smallest circle in the middle represents the guild masters, or experts. As you move further from the center, you may encounter people with less expertise, but with an equally important role in keeping the community alive and thriving. Both master and apprentice are part of the community, each with valuable functions for the growth and development of the community. REM exemplifies a CoP that takes seriously both the wisdom of the experts/elders, and the value of the newcomer.