Inquiry has had a positive impact on my teaching and student learning. I have found that I am more comfortable presenting most subjects with at least a mini inquiry approach. We started Geometry and I had no problem letting the students start by sharing their thinking, exploring and connecting, and finally bringing their thinking back. I have found that my lessons are easier and shorter when the kids have shared the learning they have discovered. I only need to direct their thinking or point out vocabulary they may need. I really love how that feels as a teacher and the kids love how it feels to learn it themselves.
I am still a bit uncomfortable with the long inquiry projects (our ants for example). While I still am guiding them on the main points, I am uncertain as to how long it will really take to complete this with all their own questions at hand. We have a deadline and a goal for presenting our learning, but I am anxious as to if we will make it.
What is hard. . . all of it. In first grade you have a true variety of readers and writers. Making sure the material is appropriate and all the different scaffolds are in place takes lots of time on my end. The six and seven year olds have not yet learned how to self monitor. I continue to refocus them even while they are looking for one topic, I can only imagine (and yes I fear) what will happen when they are searching out their own question. In what I have seen from second grade and in my teammate's rooms, I know it is very messy in lower grades. It does not look like students on computers or quietly note taking from books. I struggle with how this learning looks to others.
Ultimately, I cannot wait to see the end product for these kids.