What are the ways that inquiry has had a positive impact on your teaching and / or student learning?
I have to admit that I was very hesitant to approach student learning through inquiry. When I first started teaching 17 years ago, my first principal expected the teacher to be in front of the room teaching the entire time. It has taken me many years to shift my thinking about good teaching. Therefore, allowing students to take their own learning into their own hands was extremely uncomfortable for me. How will they learn all of the curriculum? Will some kids learn anything? What if they don't research effectively? What if they don't understand what they are reading? All of these questions ran through my mind as the students attacked the weather systems unit through their own guiding question. What I found is that they did learn and amazingly, they learned a deeper level than they did when I sit in front and fed them the information. Not only did they learn from their own research but they learned from each other and questioned each other. It was a very positive experience for me and one that I am very excited to cultivate next year!
What are the drawbacks? What are the ways that inquiry still feels uncomfortable? What are you sill unsure about?
I have found that inquiry in science feels very natural. However, I do not have the same feeling about inquiry in math. I have still not been comfortable enough to even attempt it in math. I do give the students word problems and such for them to ponder and ask questions about and finally try to solve. I think my biggest fear is the students getting a incorrect foundation from the beginning. In science it is easy to research information and form questions about the information you are reading. However, I don't think at this point it is easy to research math algorithms and learn how to use them as easily. I also feel like the questions that they may ask after trying to research them may cause even more confusion. This is just a roadblock that I have to overcome and I am hoping that next year as I pursue the science side with inquiry I will be able to push aside my block and try inquiry in math.