1. What are the ways that inquiry has had a positive impact on your teaching and / or student learning?
ECE students are naturally curious. Inquiry therefore has had a positive impact on my teaching and student growth because it has provided a framework in which to teach valuable background knowledge to students in a way that engages and invest them. It also teaches my students from the beginning of their educational career their thinking is valued and that school is not just a place where you learn your ABCs and 123s. The most important lesson I can teach my students is to think and question the world around them. They must learn not only what a question is and how to formulate one, but also develop foundational strategies to support where to find the information necessary to answer or build upon their questions.
2. What are the drawbacks? What are the ways that inquiry still feels uncomfortable? What are you still unsure about?
The drawbacks are more around process rather than Inquiry itself. As I stated earlier, ECE students are naturally curious which is a great place to start. However, they have limited background knowledge on so many topics that often their questions can be either off topic or seemingly random or they can be superficial because they have nothing to go on. Inquiry therefore for us is VERY guided which makes it feel uncomfortable and less authentic. What I have discovered though in this messy process is that for ECE, inquiry must be guided in order to support children building enough background knowledge to delve into a topic more deeply. My job is to build a foundation to these thinking skills and not feel so responsible and accountable for them to learn everything there is to know about a topic. In the end, I've discovered I've been too reflective and tried to hard to make it all feel natural. It just will not always feel that way in a classroom of 4 year olds. Our Creative Curriculum is a sound example of guided curricular inquiry and as I become more familiar with it, I can use it as a framework to build upon. After 2 years of using it, I am discovering ways to make it fell more authentic and purposeful and I've been able to divert from it on many occasions to explore new concepts within a study or try something they have suggested but in my own way.
For next year, my hope is that I am so familiar with the curriculum that I can focu my energies on using the ideas and strategies I attempted this year with more routine. I also hope I can be more efficient and flexible with my planning allowing us to explore the questions most engaging to my new students.