Deepen Teacher Inquiry Series - Part 6

Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that is counted truly counts
— Einstein

I love this particular quote because it resonates with me about the drive for data that we - as teachers - seem to find themselves in. It encourages us to stop and think about what really counts.

I find this quote completely relevant to this week's focus point for our deepen teacher inquiry series.

Last week we discussed the idea of the WHAT -That's right - the what, finding WHAT Teaching actions to change to increase student outcomes are what inquiries are about. Another important aspect of designing a deep inquiry - that comes out of the wondering process is identifying WHO you are running your inquiry about - WHO is your sample?

In earlier posts and newsletters, I discussed the idea that during the wondering - scanning - developing a hunch part of an inquiry - teachers often land - in their wondering - on a focus that is either child, content or context. With that in mind - in the design of an inquiry - teachers need to identify WHO. Which students form the central part of your inquiry? The who is the students/class/year group - that you are carrying out your teaching action on, and measuring the impact of, with regard to the learning of these students.

The Relationship between WHO your inquiry sample is and HOW you collect your evidence.

Who is going to be your sample?

When teachers take into consideration how the evidence is going to be collected, they must also reflect upon WHO the sample is.  How the evidence is going to be collected needs to be in affinity with WHO the sample is in order to collect rich and relevant data.

Choosing the best sample sometimes requires some communication with the students to find the best options. When teachers are considering who will be the sample for their inquiry - which in some cases is obvious, but not in others - sometimes teachers need to have some dialogue with the potential inquiry students to identify who will be the best student sample.

Evidence collection is empowered when the teacher inquirer connects the kind of evidence to be collected with the needs and ability of the students who form the inquiry "sample". The WHO (Student sample) informs the HOW (the type of evidence) - usually.

When teachers design their inquiry - and have what they are going to change in mind -  the evidence of the impacts of the teaching action needs to have an affinity with the needs and the ability of the "sample" to provide evidence. Ideally, the WHO informs the HOW in order to be able to design a truly relevant inquiry.

For example - Jane is an EEC Teacher. Her inquiry was about the engagement of a group of 4 year-olds with a particular activity. Jane's evidence included observations of the children with the activity and photos of the kinds of ways the children engaged in the activity. In this case - an online student survey - to collect student's voice - would not have been appropriate. This seems obvious, but it is an important consideration when planning the WHO and the HOW of your inquiry.

John teaches a very low ability year 10 Science class. As a measure of the impact of his inquiry focus, he decided to interview his students instead of using a paper survey. This decision was informed by John's knowledge of his student's ability to write their ideas and the resistance of his student "sample" to write. He also concluded that an online student survey would not work well due to the fact that students did not have easy access to computers.

In both cases - once the teacher inquirer had identified their WHO - they then needed to take into consideration what evidence they would collect in order to gain the best possible measures.

So WHO is going to be your focus audience for your inquiry impacts? - and therefore your sample?

Next week we will explore the HOW - the kinds of evidence you can collect to illustrate the impacts of the teaching actions you are making on students learning outcomes.



Educators - if you want to experience this level of depth of thinking into your students learning, then join me in Auckland - 27th April and 9 July 2018. 

Registration closes - 20th April. - Spaces are limited so get in quick.

Tabitha Leonard