Trying to make the best Italian meatball. Designing a teacher workshop using the provoke-explore- reflect framework. Raising chickens in the backyard. Facilitating a PLC. Perfecting the golf swing.

As a middle years learning coach team, our learning journeys involve much discussion, trial and error, purposeful practice and reflection. Our understanding of inquiry has significantly grown in the last couple of months because we recognized the truth that to be inquiry teachers we needed to be inquirers ourselves. We began a learning journey to purposefully develop ourselves as inquirers; we looked for inquiry opportunities in our personal and professional lives.

For each of us our inquiry journeys began with our “owning” the idea that we are learners. We started to see ourselves as curious, as having a voice in our learning, and we began to make conscious choices in what we wanted to learn. We began to ask ourselves, “What we are interested in? What are our wonderings?” Our learning about inquiry became richer when we started to see ourselves learning for a purpose in authentic contexts.

As we talked together about our learning we saw some other common threads; we had all begun to reflect more. We reflected on what we were learning, how we were learning it and what our thinking looked like. As we talked about our metacognition we realized how much we were learning from each other. We naturally moved toward collaborating. Moving from our shallow understanding about inquiry to a deeper understanding was complex, and this complexity made us realize we needed each other! We needed each other to give feedback about our thinking: Were we headed in the right direction? Were our intuitions about inquiry accurate? Did our thinking still need to shift?

Another “aha” along the way was how joyful learning could be. Even if it’s challenging or difficult, learning is invigorating and the feeling of accomplishment once something has been learned often fuels our desire to learn more. We have spent much time (and we are by no means finished) wondering what some of the values of an inquiry learner are. Our values list comes from our learning
journey:

OWN YOUR OWN LEARNING

Develop your interests

Reflect on your learning

Make it authentic

Collaborate and get feedback

Don’t forget the joy!

It was when we began to see ourselves as inquiry learners that we could begin to see ourselves as inquiry teachers. Knowing how it feels to develop and live with an inquiry mindset is an important place to start if we are to model this type of learning for our students. We believe this is also crucial if we are to transform the way we learn with our students in our schools.

“Inquiry teachers see themselves as learners. It is our responsibility to continue to grow ourselves and our thinking along with our students. Make this a year of growth – whether you are in your first or last year of teaching. Show your students that you too are an inquirer and that learning never stops… We can ALL grow ourselves as learners more easily than we have ever been able to before. Learn something new. There is a world of wisdom in our pockets, at the touch of a button. Grow!” – Kath Murdoch, Just Wondering: www.kathmurdoch.com.au/blog/

-Russ Dirks, Charmaine Mackid, & Barb Galessiere
Middle Years Learning Coaches

in: LM Articles