Nearly 25% of the teachers in our school are actively exploring an inquiry approach to learning. This is something I feel we should be proud of and has prompted me to think about how to use inquiry in our professional growth. Why would we want to model this type of approach to learning? My initial thought is that in order for teachers to employ an inquiry approach in their classes, it will be helpful to understand the full potential of inquiry based learning generally speaking; how it can impact our end results. From my perspective, there’s no better way than to experience it first hand.
If we are going to change our emphasis from schooling to learning we need to not only look at ideas we are passionate about, but also to encourage the active research of new solutions that will make it easier for staff to be more active in larger systemic change.When using an inquiry approach in professional growth our questions need to challenge the basic assumptions we have about learning. By focussing on learning as the underlying basis of professional inquiry, we limit the distractions that come from the systemic processes that are perceived to impede effective teaching and productive learning. What is imperative in this process is to encourage staff to be meaningful with their inquiry.
Any time educators are asked to change practice and approach, it is important to recognize the feeling of risk this evokes. To model taking this risk, taking time out of existing structures is important. At our school we are fortunate to have collaboration time embedded into our yearly schedule. This is one avenue where we encourage an inquiry approach to professional growth. Another example could include regular inquiry learning time during staff meetings. If we want to create an environment where educators take risks in their learning, as leaders we need to model this process.