#Deepen Teacher Inquiry - Hack No 11
Exploring - Looking Out Then Looking In
I am curious, what drives the focus of your Inquiry?
In so many schools I see a mandated focus on priority areas that can end up crippling the impacts of the entire Teacher Inquiry process. Part of what I love about the work I do, and the schools I work with, is the change that we are making towards empowering the Inquiry process and accelerating teacher growth. This is the true spirit of Deepen Teacher Inquiry.
We are constantly working towards not only refining the Inquiry process, but also empowering change. Empowerment through the drive to re-purpose and re-frame appraisal involves moving Deepen Teacher Inquiry towards the centre of the whole learning system. It's an approach which needs to apply to all levels and all parts of the organisation.
This learning centred Inquiry, when viewed in comparison to what we see in many schools, is a deep and rich way to approach teaching as Inquiry. When this is driven down through the learning process for our students, then up into the actions that we can take in response to what we find, true growth in our practice occurs. When this is driven simply by data or strategic focus - for instance raising boys’ achievement, or target student achievement - the process is limited by those constraints and will often get stuck.
To truly release and unharness the superpower of the Deepen Teacher Inquiry process, we need to have a learning centred focus for all the members of our school community. And the drive for growth needs to be motivated by the desire to learn and a culture of learning.
What Can Hinder Inquiry?
When an Inquiry is implemented as a must-do or a tick of the box, it is stunted and limited to just that. Teacher Inquiry standing alone will not and does not lead to teacher growth.
There is a surrounding culture piece that gives Deepen Teacher Inquiry its superpower to support and bring about change and growth. A tick the box process within the system may lead to increases in student outcomes in the short term, however, such gains are short-lived and unsustainable. Deepen Teacher Inquiry is about growing culture around the purpose.
When the purpose of Teacher Inquiry is unclear or is missing, then the teaching as Inquiry process is a tick the box process that has a judgement component attached and any growth to come out of that situation will be stunted.
When implementing Deepen Teacher Inquiry in schools, I find what works best is a whole system learning focus in the first instance. A whole learning system focus grows coherence and clarity around the purpose. When all members of your staff experience that coherence and clarity, then ownership of the process becomes a real thing. That is when growth around teacher practice is accelerated. As a result, student learning is accelerated, and strategic goals are met.
So, What Is It All About?
It begins with your students. Approaching your students learning and learning process in a manner that enables you to find the gaps and meet the needs. When you explore your students learning in the first instance and then reflect on what it is you need to do to help address that learning need, your inquiry becomes deeper and more learning centred.
Imagine shining a mirror out to catch what is happening in the classroom, then turning the mirror back towards you. This simple act enables you to identify what you can do to facilitate the change in your classroom. The vital difference is in looking out and then looking in. It’s about starting you’re your students and then moving to you.
In many cases I see teachers reflecting in a way that starts with them and what it is they need to work on. I also often see it starting with a focus on either a PTS or a school wide strategic goal.
In these situations, teachers are much less connected to the students learning than they are if they begin with the students learning then look to themselves.
So, which is it for you? Do you start with you or your students when you explore, wonder and question in the initial phase of your Inquiry?
Here’s to creating DIFFERENCE, when it comes to how we think, feel, say and do about our Teacher Inquiries.
From the Archives
#DEEPEN TEACHER INQUIRY - HACK NO 3
WORKING SMARTER NOT HARDER
What Teacher Inquiry can do...
Enable change-ready tribes.
Empower the appraisal process so it becomes a learning centered process rather than a performance management process.
The Accountability Piece
There is an ever-present accountability piece that sits with appraisal and teacher registration. How well that accountability piece is utilised within a school varies, and the culture around the accountability piece is varied. In many cases, appraisal and the accountability piece is centered around performance management.
#DEEPEN TEACHER INQUIRY - HACK NO 7
What Makes An Inquiry?
The Cogs That Make a New Inquiry.
As a general rule; whenever you change one of the three things - strategising, evidencing or sample - it can be technically thought of as a new inquiry.
I find - often - teachers in overwhelm about their inquiry as it has been framed up as a sizable project that runs across many, many months and they don’t know where to start.
Here is one way to unpack Teacher Inquiry.