I believe teachers are superheros...And Super Human. Unlike our fictional friends, we don't have the luxury of made-up problems, or beautiful, fairy tale endings. It is a struggle as a teacher to try and do everything, and to do it all WELL and with intention. More than ever, (especially this year) our feet are being held to the fire. We have been inundated with new district initiatives. We are supposed to be at the level of full implementation of Common Core. New tests, delivered via a new platform, are knocking at our door. We are being evaluated through a framework that is broad, and by peers who have little, if no, "schema" about us. We struggle with the balance between providing differentiation yet making sure all kids are proficient on grade level skills. And yet we have to still deliver all of this while keeping in the mind the DPS virtue of "FUN."! Hmmm... like I said, SUPERHUMAN! Despite the to-do list above, we are still diving in, feet first, to explore this idea of Inquiry! Maybe this is our path to fun?
The inquiry question my group has chosen to explore has created many new puzzles for me:
- Can a truly inquiry-based classroom be standards driven? This question has opened a can of worms for me
- If we are planning an inquiry unit, do the standards go by the wayside while we allow students to let their own questioning take off ? Or are Standards always the foundation for the plan?
- Do I always have to plan with the end in mind, or with a standard in mind? Or is it OK to reflect upon the lesson in hindsight and figure out what standards may have been covered? This seems to allow for more flexibility in terms of the kids driving the direction of the inquiry based upon their authentic questions.
- If I plan around a standard, is this still allowing enough freedom for the inquiry process to drive itself? OR does this lead to a "guided" inquiry?
- And then, is it still inquiry if I guide a lesson or guide my learners in a particular direction?
- Workshop and other instructional structures: where does they fit in? Can you blend inquiry into a workshop model? can you still deliver differentiated instruction in the midst of Inquiry? What does this look like?
- What does Inquiry look like in an intervention setting?
So I guess my next steps would be to immerse myself in my questions!
1) I am fortunate that the first grade team has been open to sharing their planning and classrooms with me so that I can have a group of guinea pigs to work with! This has been an incredibly fun, fun, fun time for me to connect back in to the classroom, and witness the incredible work our teachers are doing!
2) I am going to attempt to take a risk and try inquiry with an intervention group! NOT AT ALL SURE what that will look like!
3) Attempt to answer my questions surrounding inquiry and standards!