Teaching as inquiry…continuing to learn

P questionImage via Wikipedia Christina Ward facilitated a webinar today – 23rd November (access recording here), which explored the topic of teaching as inquiry. A record number of people registered for the session, and even before the session got underway there was some good discussion in the text chat box. Christina, since 2004, has been linked up with the curriculum development team within the Ministry of Education (MoE), and since then she has been working on the NZ curriculum online.

The session started with Christina sharing a quotation by Stoll, Fink & Earl (2003): “Teachers are at the heart of school improvement, and with all the change in the world and new understandings about learning it is essential that they too keep learning”. Christina stressed that it is important to have teachers at the heart – and thinking about learning. During the session Christina planned to give a quick look at teaching as inquiry and its place in the NZC, as well as characteristics of schools and classrooms where teaching as inquiry is evident along with some examples.

Christina started with a short survey that asked participants to rate their experience about teaching as inquiry. The results were really interesting with 20% of participants just beginning to learn about teaching as inquiry, 40% who have made a start and are noticing shifts, 30% who are confidently using teaching as inquiry, and 1-% who have a deep understanding and notice significant shifts in student achievement and teaching practice.

The teaching as inquiry cycle was then discussed, along with a clarification that inquiry learning and teaching as inquiry are different things. The teaching as inquiry approach has been developed to encourage teachers to inquire into their own teaching methods, assess its effectiveness, and learn or alter practices where necessary. Christina provided a really useful link to the Instep site that provides some great ideas of different ways that inquiry can happen, and it also explains some of the key terminology.

Education Reform I found this picture at: http...Image via Wikipedia

Participants were asked to watch this video where Helen Timperley, Professor of Education at The University of Auckland talks about ways teachers can gain knowledge through cycles of inquiry into their practice. There was also a link to a report written by Helen Timperley that covers the subject of PD in depth and what is proving effective.

The characteristics of schools who are showing that they have a pretty strong handle on teaching as inquiry include support for teachers with:

  • systems and processes for introducing teaching as inquiry
  • promote a culture of trust and open mindedness
  • allow for fallibility
  • encourage persistence
  • meeting in groups to understand processes and put them into practice
  • investigate data
SuitcaseImage by Mamboman1 via FlickrIn schools where inquiry teaching is encouraged the dialogues around teaching and learning have been seen to have changed, and this has proven healthy in whole schools shifts. A couple of participants mentioned aspects of teaching as inquiry in their institutions including: “We had teaching as inquiry projects as part of our appraisal process”, although others mentioned “Some teachers use avoidance tactics such as this is an add on rather then it is something that we do every day in our teaching “, and “Often senior managers see it as an add on and a tick box exercise to keep ERO happy”.

On the example front, Christina shared some awesome resources including the following videos:

TrustImage by gorbould via Flickr

And an article in .pdf format entitled Teaching as Inquiry: One School’s Approach. Participants were able to pick and choose a resource that was relevant to them, go away to access / watch it, and then return to the Webinar…with comments. Some of the comments included:

  • “I love the idea of ‘de-privatizing’ learning. The importance of collaborative discussion of one anothers practice- It requires a very positive, encouraging environment for teachers to share so openly.”
  • “Carol jarrett’s comment about reframing the learngin conversation between teachers to look at problems of practice in a positive way so they can feel safe to try new things very very important”
  • “principals/leaders to model the inquiry is indeed powerful”
  • “Good to see the work being done in pastoral component with secondary school. It would be interesting to see the research”
  • “As DP I’m inquiring into eportfolios”
  • “Carol Jarrett’s video says interesting things about taking those risks”

These comments blossomed into a really lively chat session, with lots of ideas and sharing of practices. It is well worth visiting the recording of the session to review what Christina covers, and also to have a good look at some of the conversation.

TrustImage by m-c via Flickr

About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ (http://www.ethosconsultancynz.com/). I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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