I find it interesting when speaking with colleagues about teacher inquiry that many remark that this is something that they have always done but now it has been given a new name and has been turned into eduspeak. I wonder if this is really true?
Have teachers really been inquiring into their practice in a meaningful way in the past or have they been reflecting on their practice? What’s the difference?
I know that in the past, teachers have reflected at the end of units and have given a great amount of thought to what they would do differently if they taught that topic/curriculum area again. For me, here in lies the problem, they have been focused on one curriculum area or topic of work – not how they could better encourage better learning across all curriculums areas.
This is what I love about teacher inquiry, if one gives the area they are wanting to inquire into enough thought they can research into learning. The skills that teacher’s develop as they inquire into their own practice should be able to transferred across all curriculum areas and actually for the wider world!
Let me give you an example, so far this year I have been considering how I can give the students in my class greater agency in mathematics. While I have used the context of mathematics, this was only to stop my inquiry becoming all encompassing. However, once I have found successful ways to promote agency in the context of mathematics it is then relatively straightforward to help students apply these ideas/approaches/philosophies to other areas.
I don’t believe that this would have happened in the past. I feel that education, from a teachers perspective when reflecting on what worked or otherwise, was seen as quite compartmentalised.
Who are the winners as a result of a greater focus on teacher inquiry? The answer is simple, everyone!