Establishing a culture of inquiry through inquiry.

As the school year commences here in the southern hemisphere, I am reminded of one of the great paradoxes of inquiry as an approach to teaching and learning. On the one hand, helping students inquire requires such forethought and curriculum knowledge - teachers need to be highly intentional and conscious as they support students through the process. On the other hand, inquiry learners need to be given opportunity and space to find the questions that matter to them and to feel that delicious sense of possibility from teachers who expect the unexpected and are willing to follow paths that might not have appeared on the 'maps' they have drawnSo, as inquiry teachers, we need to expect the unexpected,  create a map and then be prepared to veer from it.  For more on a culture of permission and possibility see Sam Sherratt's great post here:  https://timespaceeducation.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/natural-inquiry-depends-on-a-culture-of-permission/

In my first few years of teaching, I diligently spent many days over the final week of the summer break preparing my classroom for my new group of students. I arranged furniture, put up colourful displays, drew fun pictures in the chalk board (yep, I’m that old), set up the roster system for classroom helpers, displayed the school rules, brought in plants, organized the classroom library - and I planned.  I planned the first weeks thoroughly. My work program was a thing of beauty. Neatly written, detailed daily schedules with activities planned from 9-3.30 for several weeks. I was a paragon of organization.  

When the children walked into their new classroom, they were generally excited and happy to be there.  But, when I look back now, I see that they entered a space that was already much more MY space than theirs.   Imagine buying a house then walking into it on day one to find that not only had it been decorated by someone else (without asking for your opinion) but that your breakfasts, lunch and dinners for the next 5 weeks were ALSO already planned in addition to almost all of your daily activities.   Perhaps that is a rather extreme analogy (and perhaps there are some of us that would rather like not to have to make these decisions)  but most of us would feel a deep sense of dissatisfaction and an awful loss of control.  We need to have agency in our daily lives. We need a sense of control over what we do and how we do it. We need to have a role in creating the space around us. So do our students.

The first few weeks of the year provide a wonderful, authentic context for student and teacher inquiry.  Together, we are venturing into the unknown and most of us begin the year with many questions rolling around in our heads.   I think one of the very best questions we can ask a new class of children is: “What are you wondering?”   Simply gathering the questions that children bring to us at the beginning of the year (or at the end of the previous year) can help inform the plans we make for their learning and give them a real sense of ownership and voice.  Inquiry is a natural process we use to make sense of the world. In the first few weeks of the year,  our kids are trying to make sense of their new class, their new teacher and their new environment.  By using a more inquiry based approach to establishing the classroom and helping kids get to know each other, the routines, and their teachers a culture is born.  From the first weeks of the school year, students come to understand that this is a space in which they will have voice and in which they are expected to actively investigate rather than passively receive.

Younger children or children moving to a new section of the school often bring countless questions – both big and small – as they enter a new learning space.  At the start of the last school year, several of the prep teachers I worked with decided to use the children’s wonderings as the impetus for their first explorations together.  Simple investigations emerged around the playground, the names of the teachers in the school, what the principal did, the mysteries of announcements ….  (how does the office lady get into the speaker?), where the bins were emptied, why some areas were out of bounds, what the ‘big kids’ did in their classrooms, what the trophies in the display cabinets in the foyer were all about, what food was in the canteen, etc.  Rather than the teachers painstakingly planning activities to introduce the children to school, a few provocations (even a simple walk around the school) led to questions that then offered opportunities for all kinds of short term inquiries.  The intention of familiarizing beginners with the school environment and community was still met – but it was driven by the students themselves. And in the process of exploring the more surface questions about the school and its environs, perhaps the deeper, unasked questions be answered…’Will I belong here?’  “Will I have a voice?’  Will I feel connected and safe?

Most of us begin the year by designing tasks/activities that facilitate community building. We want to get to know our kids – and we want them to get to know and relate to each other. Again – rather than over-planning the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of this – try inviting the students to design questions and investigations:

  • How can we build a great community in this classroom?
  • What do we need we find out about each other?  How could we go about this?
  • What do we need to know about each other in order to start to build a great community?
  • How might we design this learning space to help us do the best learning possible?
  • What do you need/want to know about me as your teacher?
  • What would you love to learn about/learn to do this year? How might we make that happen?
  • What should I (as your teacher) learn about you?
  • What are you wondering about yourself as a learner this year?
  • What are you most curious about when you think about the year ahead?

This approach is still highly intentional – our purposes are still to get the year off to a productive and positive start and to build routines. A more inquiry-based approach sees students as collaborators in the design of those routines and, as a result, engages them in a more rigorous, accountable and fascinating process of culture building.

How will you bring an inquiry stance to the beginning of your school year?

Just wondering…

 

13 years of schooling: a reflection

I wrote this post several weeks ago as I watched my daughter and her friends navigate their way through the strange demands of the year 12 exam period. It was a moment of acute reflection for me on a system I have spent my lifetime working for, studying, researching and contributing to.  It was a reflection born of some frustration about the chasm that remains between what we know about learning and so much of what still happens in schools- and I stand by that sentiment.  What is was not, in any way, meant to be was a criticism of any particular teachers themselves although it may have read that way ... and that was clumsy of me. Teachers, too, are frustrated with systemic expectations that go against what their heart tells them is right. My intention with it was never to misrepresent the great work that most teachers do tirelessly, every day and to the absolute best of their abilities.  As I said in the post- my children have actually been lucky to have encountered many great teachers - as was I.   This is a post about the bigger picture- and a personal perspective on that picture.  Thank you again to those of you who have contributed to the discussion both publicly and privately. Feedback is the very best thing for learning and I hope I will always be able to receive it openly and thoughtfully.  

 

This post is somewhat different to my usual focus on inquiry and more personal than most. Forgive my indulgence ...

I vividly remember my eldest daughter’s first day of school.  As I watched her make her way into the group gathered on the carpet, I remember holding back the sudden urge to rush in, pick my daughter up and run! I know I wasn’t the first parent to experience those emotions and no doubt many parents felt the same when they dropped their 5 year olds into my care as a prep teacher many years ago.  I wept in the car on my way to work and felt terribly conflicted.  My life’s work was and continues to be all about schools and here I was wanting my child to be anywhere but in one!

That was 13 years ago.  I have just returned from dropping that same child at school for her final English exam. While I write this post (which I will draft, leave, reflect on, re-draft…) she is currently sitting for three solid hours to write (handwrite) three essays in a row with prompts she will read for the first time today about texts she did not choose.  In complete silence. No drafting, no conversation, no notes, no breaks, no music, no food, …who writes under those conditions in the real world??  Exams remain a ludicrous, archaic way to ‘measure’ young people’s learning.

 And as I watched her walk into school today -   I had the same feelings I had all those years ago – a strange desire to spring out of the car, grab her and run!

As any parent out there knows,  the end of schooling for one’s child is inevitably a time of reflection.  For me as an educator, this reflection is loaded and complex.  I have been thinking about the lessons I have learned from the experience of this daughter’s schooling.  Watching my own children ‘do school’ has taught me a lot as a teacher and as a parent.   So today – while my daughter writes her English exam, I ponder on my own lessons. What have I learned….?  

1.     Not much has changed.   I know this is rather negative but I have to say that, overall, and despite the amazing efforts of so many fine educators – schools really have not changed all that much since was a student. And that was a long time ago!  I have spent the last 6 years in particular quietly despairing at so many futile tasks given in the name of ‘learning’  that show little real understanding of contemporary practice.  Assignments heavy on fact-finding and light on thinking,  Minimal or no choice in how to present ideas,  Few opportunities to co construct or engage in deep self-assessment and few truly collaborative, real-world contexts for learning. Of course there have been some exceptions … but why ARE we so slow to truly revolutionize schools given all we now know about learning?

2.     It’s all about the teacher.   We know the research bears this out but there is nothing like experiencing the phenomenon first hand!   13 years of hearing young people sitting around our kitchen table, talking about their teachers has continually reminded me just how much the quality of the teacher – and the relationship they choose to develop with their students - matters. It can literally make or break the child’s love of and commitment to a subject and indeed their view of learning itself.  I have seen the damage one - and yep, I'm going to say it, BAD teacher can do to a child's interest in a subject.  I have been intrigued at best - and horrified at worst - as to why such teachers continue to do the job when they obviously despise what they do, spend most of their time berating students and would rather be somewhere else. 

3.     Every kid needs a champion.  Rita Piersan’s words are ringing in my ears.  As I reflect over the last 13 years, I feel such overwhelming gratitude to those who have championed my child. Two teachers stand out. The English teacher in year 7 who nurtured my daughter as a writer and showed such passion and commitment to her craft and to her students.  And her music/singing teacher who believed so profoundly in the role of the arts in education and provided every opportunity for a girl with a musical interest to be supported.  My daughter’s learning life at school has been made richer as a direct result of these champions.  These were teachers who took time to see their students as people as well as learners.  This is the best gift any teacher can give a student. When you champion a student - when you see their light - you can literally change their life.

4.     The ‘playground’ can be the greatest teacher.  While we teachers immerse ourselves in the demands of curriculum planning and classroom instruction we can forget that our kids’ heads and hearts are so often somewhere else.  The time my daughter has spent with friends – in the school yard and beyond has taught her as much if not more than any ‘formal’ lessons in the classroom.   In the last few weeks of concerts, graduations and other year 12 rituals, I have watched and listened to these young people interacting with each other and have been so moved by the maturity of their relationships, their support of each other, the absence of competition and the spirit of collaboration.  Some of the bestschool-related learning moments over the last 13 years have had nothing to do with the curriculum or the painstaking work we do as teachers to cover outcomes and tick boxes.  They have everything to do with the relationships grown, challenged, lost and found in the playground.  This is the learning that will endure.

5.     Learners need time to be in their element.  ‘We need to create environments (in schools) where every person is inspired to grow creatively. We need to make sure that all people have the chance to do what they should be doing. To discover the Element in themselves and in their own way’ (Ken Robinson:2009).  Our daughter has been writing and performing music since she was 7.  We chose a local state school that is known for valuing the arts and this proved to be the best decision. Gretta once said that ‘singing was like breathing’ for her – she needed to do it every day.   Being given ample opportunity to be in her element at school has kept her happy, focused and generally motivated. It has sustained her through the tedium of some other classes that were not her thing.  She has been lucky. I know many of her friends have had to wait until the school day is over to do what helps them feel they are ‘in their element’ .  Surely we know enough about the role of personal interest and passion in learning to allow more opportunities for these to flourish as part of school life. 

6.     We give kids mixed messages.  ‘Your final score does not define you’  ‘Success in high school does not necessarily determine success in life’.  ‘It’s who you are as a person – your character – that matters most.'   In the final years of schooling, these slogans are regularly trumpeted at assemblies and information nights.  At the same time the reality is that schools (and the system they are part of) do ultimately define success in terms of academic achievement.  This is what gets you the ‘grades’  - and if you happen to do well in maths and science - even better!

Since that first day, 13 years ago, I have often had to ‘harden my heart’ as an educator and as a parent.  As someone with a profile in the education sphere, I have opted to keep more of a distance than many parents do and have tried to remainpositive and supportive of our schools throughout.  And there has been much to be positive about. My child is one of the lucky ones. She is happy, well adjusted and ready to fly into the world with a passion that has been nurtured by a few extraordinary teachers.  But the journey has not been without disappointment and frustration.  We now know so much about what constitutes great learning environments. We know what really matters in the learning lives of our young people. We know what should change.  We know the importance of student voice, choice, integrative and inquiry based approaches andthe importance of 21C skills and dispositions…..And yet so much remains, it seems, stuck in a time warp. 

Perhaps this reflection has been a kind of reminder to me about why I do what I do. I want to continue working with kids and their teachers to rethink classrooms as habitats for creativity and wonder. I want every 5 year old to walk into school - and explore!  I want schools to be places in which all kids have opportunity to find and be in their element.  I want teachers to have the time and permission to know their kids as well as they know their curriculum.

I am so proud of my daughter as a learner and as a person. I am proud of what she has learned because of – and despite -  her schooling.  

And if she has children, will they be sitting for three long hours in an exam hall at the end of their journey in order to determine their success?

Just wondering…..

 

 

 

Leading for inquiry learning

Leading for inquiry learning

I imagine some of my blog followers may well have given up on me by now!  This is the first post I have written in a long time….you may have been wondering why….

The release of ‘The Power of Inquiry’ late last year has meant a hugely, wonderfully busy year and time has been tight.  And, in a way, I have said so much of what I wanted to share in that book.  In addition,  I restored my facebook page earlier this year and committed to using it more frequently.  I have found my urge to blog has been satisfied, to a degree, by the ‘miniposts’ I write on facebook. I have even contemplated discontinuing the blog and just using facebook and twitter.

 On reflection, however,  I see them as serving different purposes.  The facebook posts I write are useful – but often don't require me to share my thinking in real depth. They are certainly easier to write than this!  The blog is something that takes me more time to think through, compose and write. And that’s good for me.  So I am going to stick with the blog despite the growing temptation of the ‘bite-sized’ thinking that facebook requires.  I need to keep challenging myself to pause, think more, write more. I just may not post as often J

This long-time-coming post has emerged while I have been busy planning a workshop I am running in Melbourne next week.  I will be working with a big group of teachers who are interested in exploring their role as leaders in an inquiry-based context.  So much of my work is located in the classroom space and focusses on how we work with children, it has been great to stop and reflect again on ways in which we work with teachers to empower them as inquirers. 

Over time, Ihave partnered withmany schools who have been eager to embrace the philosophy and pedagogy of inquiry as a whole school approach. While I have an important role in that process,  the success of my work depends so much on those in the school who‘keep the pot boiling’ in between or following my visits. I am often intrigued (and sometimes dismayed) by the lack of real ‘take up’ in a school despite what seems to be an enthusiastic and willing response from staff.  Of course we all know that strengthening and sustaining growth in a school goes way beyond what one consultant can do.  When it boils down to it, developing inquiry as a whole school approach depends so much on the quality of the leadership in a school. When I think of the schools I work with who have really embraced and grown a culture of inquiry,  I come to the same conclusion each time. They are schools with leaders who are, in themselves, inquirers.   The ‘administrative’ team and those charged with the responsibility of guiding or facilitating collaborative planning are committed to the process and committed to nurturing the staff as learners as well as teachers.  If the classroom teacher ‘controls the climate’ of the classroom – then school leaders have the same effect on the staff . In essence, great leaders give others they work with a real sense of agency.  Hence the notion of shared/distributed leadership.  Strong inquiry schools have a distinct climate – a climate that breeds curiosity, a relentless passion for investigation and a genuine fascination with learning. It isa climate that invites connection within and across communities and that supports learners take risks.  Inquiry leaders don't want passive compliance – they want active, questioning, engaged staff who care for each other as well as their students.

So…… as I mull over the question of how to lead for inquiry and reflect on those who do it so well,  I find myself jotting down some ‘nutshell’ statements.   They are in no particular order, but are an attempt to capture the essence of what this kind of leadership is all about….

  • Relationships are at the heart of all we do.
  • Questions are the inquiry leader’s most powerful tool.
  • Inquiry leaders need to be inquirers- they need to be willing to learn, they are people with a growth mindset – they view learners ( children and adults) as potentially capable, curious and creative!
  • Wonder, joy and passion are contagious. Passionate leaders inspire passionate staff.Pedagogy – not programs – help learners develop as inquirers. Programs can support the pedagogy but attention to pedagogy comes first.
  • Nurturing all teachers as inquirers builds a strong, whole school inquiry culture.
  • Cultivating curiosity in our teachers – about the world, about their kids, about themselves and about learning is critical to the success of an inquiry school.
  • When we see teaching itself AS inquiry – we change the way we think about our work and the way we view ourselves in the classroom
  • Collaborative planning is all about inquiring into the needs and interests of our learners  - and responding accordingly
  • The principles that underpin inquiry in the classroom apply equally to teacher learning.
  • When schools see themselves as ‘communities of inquiry’ everyone is a teacher, everyone is a learner.
  • Nurturing the ‘whole teacher’  means we balance personal and professional care and build stronger, more trusting teams.
  • True collaboration requires time.  When we consciously build our skill set for effective collaboration – our planning and teaching is strengthened.
  • Effective planning for inquiry takes time – people need space and time for the kind of deeper conversations from which powerful teaching is born
  • Standards/outcomes should inform our planning rather than drive it. Our students’ needs are the drivers.
  •  It is not the leader’s role to make the plans.  Plans are powerful when they are co-constructed rather than imposed.

What are your 'nutshell statements' for inquiry leadership?

Just wondering….

If you could take just one word into the new year….what would it be?

Whether you are soon to begin a new school year or returning to school in a new calendar year, this is inevitably a time of heightened intention.  I love this ‘moment’ in time when the new and old year hinge on each other.  Reflection is made more purposeful when it casts light on the way ahead.  As a new year dawns, I can’t help but wonder about the way my thinking, my learning and my teaching will unfold.  This will be my 33rd year of teaching (how on EARTH did that happen?).  Whether teaching children, student-teachers or experienced teachers in the field I continue to love what I do and marvel at how much I learn, unlearn and re-learn each year.

As I have shared before (http://www.kathmurdoch.com.au/blog/2014/01/23/and-the-word-is)  my family and friends have a tradition of selecting a word to bring into the new year.  Just one, single word. The word provides as a kind of ‘tincture’ to the year – its purpose being to regularly nudge you along a path of your choosing – a path that strengthens you in some way.  

This year, I have chosen the word ‘space’… it works for me on a personal and professional level.   My passion for inquiry requires a lot of thinking about, providing for and curating space.  I know the best learning happens when I give myself and my students enough space to explore, grow, to think and to talk.  Clutter (physical, emotional and cognitive) feels like the antithesis of discovery and learning.  Even having some space to think, to read, to walk and to write is palpably nurturing for me as a learner as I enjoy some down time over the Christmas break.  I need space – and as a teacher, I need to provide it.

As I walked the spacious sands on a nearby beach early this morning, I pondered some single powerful words that resonate with the practice and stance of the inquiry teacher.  If you are so inclined, perhaps one of these words might act as your talisman for a wonderful year of inquiry.

Connect...If ever there was a ‘multi-purpose’ word for inquiry, this is it!  This year, help your students make connections – between ideas, between new and past experiences, between eachother and with themselves.  Make your own connections – not just within your school but with the wider community of inquiry teachers around the world. Stay connected to why you do what you do.

Wonder...No word list for inquiry would be complete without it.   Wonder fuels inquiry.  This year – commit to providing your kids with more time and reason to wonder.  Start a class wonder-journal into which you record things you have marveled at, noticed, been puzzled by.  Make your wonderwall a place for dynamic investigation. Give your kids time to explore their interests. Most of all, share YOUR wonders with your students. Be the curious, passionate learner you want to see

Open...One of the most challenging aspects of being an inquiry teacher is learning to stay open to the possibility that things may not go as planned – but it is also one of the most satisfying dispositions to build in yourself and your students.  Stay open – to new thinking, new ways of doing things, new questions. Design tasks that are open enough to allow diverse and individual responses. Open your doors. Open up your spaces. Ditch some tables. Move.

Dare... With a nod to Brene Brown, we sometimes have to ‘dare greatly’ in order to see inquiry truly flourish in our classroom.  Dare to express yourself with more candor and passion in your planning or staff meetings, dare to suggest and try new ways of doing things, dare to ditch the stuff you KNOW is a waste of time, dare to be spontaneous when you see a truly teachable moment worth inquiring into, dare to spend an entire day exploring something fascinating with your students,  dare to stop doing something you have always done just because you’ve always done it. Dare to try something that scares you a little.  Dare your students to challenge themselves, to move out of their comfort zone. Dare to help your students inquire into something you know nothing about.  Dare to question

Play...We know the value of play for learning and how vital it is that children have opportunities for the exploration and stimulation of play.  But play is not just about interacting with materials or having discovery time a couple of times a week.   Inquiry teachers help students play with ideas, play with thinking, play with words, play with possibilities. They bring a playful disposition to learning that creates a culture in which even the most challenging tasks can have a joyful element. Playfulness -  knowing how to bring a lighter touch to classroom discourse often to more sophisticated engaged thinking than the dull seriousness of an all-too-earnest conversation.  Don't lose sight of YOUR inner child. Play. Commit to learning some new circle games and play them all year.  Laugh together. Enjoy your teaching more. Enjoy your kids!

Grow...Inquiry teachers see themselves as learners.  It is our responsibility to continue to grow ourselves and our thinking along with our students. Make this a year of growth – whether you are in your first or last year of teaching.  Show your students that you too are an inquirer and that learning never stops. I am regularly stunned by conversations I have with some teachers who cannot tell me a professional book they last read, who don’t subscribe to any blogs or lists or attend any workshops other than those required of them. I don't get it.  We can ALL grow ourselves as learners more easily than we have ever been able to before.  Learn something new.  There is a world of wisdom in our pockets, at the touch of a button. Grow!

So….those are 6 words that come to mind when I think of entering the new year as an inquiry teacher.  I’ve merely scratched the surface. What’s YOUR word?

 

Just wondering…

 

 

 

Inquiry and all that jazz....

When I am not inhabiting the world of schools (which I must say takes up a good deal of my time!) I love nothing more than to immerse myself in my other passion – music.  I have adored listening to, playing and sharing music since childhood and it remains my go to activity when I have some time away from work.  I recently re-visited Brian Cambourne’s tried and true ‘conditions for learning.’  When I think about it , I can see that all those conditions for learning have been in place my whole life in relation to music.  I have been immersed in it (to the point where my siblings and I had to yell out from our bedrooms….‘can you please turn Ella Fitzgerald down we are trying to sleep!!’) I had a love of music demonstrated to me even though my parents didn’t play instruments themselves, I saw their genuine appreciation and interest every day.  I was engaged IN it by having the opportunity to explore different instruments at different times in my life.  There was an expectation that I could improve. I could experiment and approximate and learn from mistakes. I got to use music – to perform and create and of course, I had response – feedback, encouragement and advice. Without even knowing it, my parents, my school and my friends helped create the perfect recipe for a life-long love affair with all things music related.  If you have not re-visited or come across Cambourne's famous conditions – take a look and consider the degree to which your classroom and school provide them for students.

Last weekend, I took my eldest daughter to see an ensemble comprising four of the best jazz musicians around. She is an accomplished musician but has had less exposure to this genre and despite my father’s love for it,  jazz is something I appreciate but don't often choose to listen to.  I have had so many great responses to the recent blog post on ‘letting go’ I guess that post was in my mind as I watched and listened to them performing:  

http://www.kathmurdoch.com.au/blog/2015/11/9/letting-go-shedding-skins-and-teaching-as-trapeze

Peter Johnson (Choice Words, 2004)  describes quality teaching as a kind of ‘conversational jazz’.   I have always loved the metaphor but it really came home to me on Saturday night.  Great jazz musicians , like great teachers, are improvisers.  At one point, it was obvious the pianist was doing something entirely unexpected.  The singer (highly experienced) smiled broadly and said to the audience “ah, you never know what he will do and that’s what makes it so fun”.   Like so many jazz gigs, there was a palpable sense that the musicians were thinking on their feet AND this kind of immediate, playful, ‘go with the flow’ style was what fuelled their joy and the quality of what they did.  A skilled jazz musician knows how to honour the tune AND let the tune go.  They can take a tune in all kinds of pathways and tributaries - every so often, returning to the core melody as a kind of auditory anchor.   When playing in a band, each musician has to remain acutely empathic: listening to each other, following leads, pulling back when necessary taking the spotlight for a moment but never drowning the others out.   And behind all this amazing innovation, improvisation and seemingly free, fluid performance is an incredibly deep understanding.  The melody is known inside and out: so intimately,  it can be let go.  And in letting go and branching out, in innovating and exploring new music is born.   And each performance, each rendering of the piece is unique.  Jazz is such a profound example of the way solid structure, certainty, shared agreements and routine lay the path for innovation, choice, the unexpected and the new.

Inquiry teaching can divide people in much the same way that jazz divides music lovers…I wonder if it is because we can’t cope well if we think we are leaving the familiar safe haven of our curriculum and our ‘knowns’ behind?   Of course the very best inquiry teachers are like the best jazz musicians – they bring deep understanding of their craft to the classroom, they KNOW how to teach like a skilled musician knows their instrument, they know the curriculum well enough to improvise without losing it completely and they know their kids.  They are strongly grounded in the fundamentals of quality teaching practice and so…they can improvise. Teaching becomes a form of highly sophisticated play.

And if we think of a collaborative teaching team in the way we might think of some of the very best music ensembles, each person listens with respect, steps back when needed,  gives others time to ‘solo’,  applauds their colleagues’ innovations.

How strongly do you trust pedagogical expertise?  How free do you feel to improvise and innovate?  

Just wondering…

 

 

 

Letting go, shedding skins and teaching as trapeze….

One of the great privileges of my job is bearing witness to the process of ‘reconstruction’ that teachers experience as they transit to more inquiry-based practice.  Becoming an inquiry teacher can mean a significant degree of ‘unlearning’ as beliefs and roles are reconsidered and re-shaped.  In a series of conversations I held with groups of teachers last week,  I asked what they were noticing about themselves and how they were changing as they engaged in a year of learning about and through inquiry.  We discussed the struggles and the joys of working this way and the new questions and goals that were emerging.  Taking time to do this – to press the pause button,  look back over the year and identify new growth makes us better teachers, I am sure of it.

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