#Deepen Teacher Inquiry - Hack No 5
What Makes An Inquiry?
How do I know its a new inquiry?
As I work with teachers and even discuss with leaders the best way to accelerate the impacts of inquiry in their school I find there is a vast variety of what we believe an inquiry is. Is it one long process that lasts a year, or is it a series of short, sharp intentional changes that we measure the impact of - using your measures to leverage off onto the next strategy and measure.
Imagine you have 30 weeks in which to travel around Europe. To see as much as you can in that period of time. Its a once in a lifetime trip and you need to maximise your time.
Take the fast and furious approach - Do a tour type approach where you Travel to as many places as you possibly can. Stay one or two days in each location and cram in as much as you can in each day you have in each city.
Take the cultural experience - Plan and pick specific places of interest and spend a length of time in each location so you can get to know the locals and experience the true culture of the area.
A year-long inquiry is a bit like OPTION ONE. You have an overarching theme - to visit as much of Europe as you possibly can in the time frame you have. You snap from one strategy to another in a reactive way and reflect at the end on all that you have done. In this case, it is fast moving and incredibly reactive. See a need fill a need kind of stuff.
Small snapshot - deliberate actions - inquiries are like OPTION TWO. You have spent time exploring and finding out about the learners in your class and have made connections between what they need, what you see, and hear and what the data tells you. You have been deliberate in your choice of strategy, and you are interested in making measures of all aspects of the impact of your strategy on the learning process of your students.
You are intentional, decision-driven and deliberate in your actions that are crafted in a way that is responsive and strategic. You spend time on a strategy, planning carefully and engaging in its impact on your students learning as you work within each inquiry.
In this case, inquiry is steady and consistent. It is about proactive, deliberate actions in response to the need you have noticed. It is steady and responsive in a deeper way than the quick response unit you get with a long-running inquiry that tends to overwhelm and lacks personal buy-in.
Long - Term Inquiry
Multiple focus points at a time
"I'm doing this, and this, and this in the hopes that it helps..."
Multiple Mini Inquiries
"I'm doing this - measuring its impact - before I try that..."
I often see - with a mandated year-long inquiry - a retrospective back-filling of what the teacher did over the term and year. That back-filling is connected willy nilly to assessment data to draw some conclusion.
Now, while that may tick some admin box somewhere, there has been no deviation from the same old actions that you have used in the classroom year in and year out, and nothing changes.
I am a firm believer in “if you want different results you need to do something different”. You cannot just do what you have always done - even if you do it harder or faster. You will always get the same results.
So think of your time with your students as a once in a lifetime - 30-week - trip to Europe. You only have that length of time in which to make a lasting impact on your students. What would you choose - the fast and furious experience or the cultural experience - to leave an impacting mark on their learning?
I know what I would choose.