I became an English major in college to get away from Math and Science. Seriously. I could never remember the quadratic formula, and Physics never interested me. Reading literature and discussing thematic elements was certainly more up my alley, so when I was introduced to the idea of becoming a scientist in my classroom through teacher inquiry–I shuttered. Teacher Inquiry seems to be one of the new buzz words that is floating around educational academia; it sounds more exciting than “research project” and is more explanatory than “action research”. Through the Teacher Inquiry process, the educator conducts research methods within their classroom by creating a wondering (a question) and seeks results using several teaching methods. The overall goal is to become a better educator and create student success through the use of data and strong reflections on lessons. By focusing on a particular aspect of instruction, the teacher is able to grow professionally.
Without spending too much time on the process (I can discuss that during another time), I would prefer to reflect on the journey as a whole. The wondering that I originally chose was:
“How can we respond to students’ needs and empower them to improve and develop their writing identity through increased choice and targeting specific areas?”
See? Aren’t you glad I’m not spending the entire time discussing the process? Anyway…the journey. Teacher Inquiry has allowed me to view my classroom through several lenses: as I gave my students surveys, I was able to listen to their needs; as I looked at data, I was able to review what worked well and what didn’t; and most importantly, as I continued my research, I was able to take more risks. That’s the thing that I found that was best of all with this Inquiry; it’s okay to take risks when creating something that’s never been done before.
It’s easy to get comfortable doing what we normally do in the classroom. We teach The Crucible in November the same way that we taught it the year before; but it’s when we take risks, when we decide to shake up the monotony a bit is when we’re able to witness the real magic happen. The teacher inquiry process forced me to break out of my shell and try something new. It forced me to see on paper what works best with a particular group of learners and document the results of my “risks”. Although I’m not a scientist, I like to think that I can make minds grow on a daily basis, which is a science in and of itself; the inquiry process asked me to try something new, to which I feel has made be a better learner, listener, facilitator, and instructor. Maybe I will give science another chance.