#Deepen-Teacher-Inquiry - #Curiosity

My grandfather was an incredibly patient man. I can recall many occasions where he would encourage my curiosity and attempts to build things or do something new. Often it involved a hammer and nails. As a kid, I loved to make stuff. None of it was any good, but the creative element of what I was doing kept me engaged.
Looking back - it was my grandfather who taught me and showed two incredibly essential life lessons.

  • Good things take time.

  • Persistence and tenacity pay off.

It was not at school - sitting in a teacher centred classroom - that I learnt the skills and attitudes that make me the educator I am today. It was the lessons learnt from that quietly patient man who just - let - me - do. He never rushed to correct me. He always just gave his advice gently, for me to engage with. Or not. He was there when I needed help.  Even today I hear his advice echoing through my thoughts.  Quietly and patiently shared in a way that supported my curiosity and encouraged me to explore, test and refine.

The HBR featured an Article in September 2018 issue about curiosity, and I find it interesting that they have featured on the front page of the magazine a picture of a cat looking like it is actively engaged in curious behaviours. Now that imagery certainly speaks of curiosity to me.
Think about the behaviours of a kitten with a ball of wool or a toy box. Cats are innately curious creatures - I wonder why that is?
One could say I am curious about such behaviours in our feline friends.

Now, why is curiosity important?  When I unpack learning with teachers, the one word that comes up every time and as always ranked at the top of a list of essential elements of learning and something that’s important to nurture and engage is curiosity.
I wonder why that is?
Curiosity is the precursor to learning. Curiosity is the thing that helps build connections for learners between 'what I know now' and 'what I am learning now'. Curiosity facilitates the making of the meaning of what we are learning. Curiosity is REALLY important to deepen learning. To enable learning that sticks!
So, if our lovely feline friends and their curious behaviours are to be what we connect with curiosity, how many of you would encourage your students to demonstrate such behaviours or at least the human equivalent?
With that connection in mind, I wonder how often I stifled curiosity in my classroom because the “behaviours” weren't normal or appropriate. I am certainly not advocating for us to allow chaos and disorder to rein if the kitty cat behaviour is anything to go by. But next time you are about to stop, divert, discourage activity in your classroom, stop and ask yourself; “is that student expressing their version of curiosity?” if so - how can I harness this curiosity and channel to towards learning rather than disruption. That is, if you consider the behaviour as disruptive I guess.
After all, we don't all learn in the same way. We know that one size does not fit all and no longer works. If it ever did. Each learners learning journey is unique to them. That's the challenge we face everyday right?
So I would argue that each learners curiosity and associated behaviours are also unique.

Now back to the Harvard Business Review article. Because it was more than the pictures that caught my attention. Admittedly the word Curiosity caught my attention, But...

Gino (2018) has shown in her research that Curiosity improves engagement and collaboration. Curious learners make better choices, improve their learning performance, and are more adaptive to change.
A study of over 200 employees across various companies and organisations involved encouraging curiosity in their employees by asking questions like:

  •  What are you curious about today?

  •  What is one thing you want to ask about?

  •  Make sure you ask why questions today.

After four weeks of asking these questions of their employees, organisations found that participating staff scored higher than the non-participating team on questions assessing the innovative and creative behaviours at work. What these daily questions translated to were better performance at work and more open-minded communication.
I wonder if you have squashed curiosity recently in need to keep to the timeline or deliver what the weekly plan dictates.  I also wonder what would happen for student learning if you were to ask students on a regular basis those simple questions, in particular - what are you curious about today?
Often teachers mention the most impacting moments of learning in their classrooms are when they let students explore and broaden their interests around a topic. When they “Embrace the teachable moments.”
When teachers talk about such moments they light up.  As they share of their students learning, it is almost as if they - at that moment - step out from behind a cloud. A cloud of external expectations and pressures and went rogue. Using innovation and creativity to enable learning as it unfolded instead that keeping to the teaching plan.

How can you enable more of that learning in your classrooms? - I reckon you can enable that learning through the lens of Deepen Teacher Inquiry. Use the deepen teacher inquiry framework to innovate and create opportunities to connect with your students' curiosity.
Encourage curiosity by modelling curiosity.
Grow curiosity as you begin to have a higher frequency of wondering - ” why?”, “what if..?”  and “how might we..?”.
Let us make Week 4 of Term 4 the week of curiosity - and see what happens...

#deepenteacherinquiry #themostpowerfultoolforteacherlearning
#learningculture #change-read tribes

Gino F., (Sept-Oct 2018), The Business Case for Curiosity, Harvard Business Review.



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1. Teacher Think Tank

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I am really excited to introduce a way for teachers and leaders to innovate solutions that are outside the box... check this out - information video and testimonial to be found within.

T3 - Teacher Think Tank - Waikato Based Teachers
See my front page for video details on how you can get involved. Including a testimonial from Sally Pendergrast - Rototuna Junior High School

December 2018
T3 - Teacher Think Tank Day
Student Agency

Auckland and Waikato Based Teachers 

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January 2019

Teaching as Inquiry 101

Auckland Based Teachers


Tabitha Leonard