Teacher Vs. Student Inquiries

So, I’ve got this great unit planned.  I thought of an engaging provocation to hook the learners.  It worked.  They are loving it and they are following every step of the way.  It is engaging, fun, and full of opportunities for critical thinking, art exploration, and differing perspectives.  Along the way, I infused the unit with technology.  They are blogging, making Keynote presentations, and working with GoogleSketch.  I have scheduled in some reflection and meta-cognitive time at regular intervals.  They are putting their work into e-portfolios, and connecting with other students around the world.  I work my way through the initial points of the unit, going through my lines of inquiry one at a time, going back to check understanding, and moving forward when I feel they are ready.  I have structured the unit to scaffold the learners to the final summit, the understanding of the big idea.

But, it was my inquiry.  I planned it all out.  I chose the direction.  I chose the topics.  I selected from a very large field of possibilities, and ended up with a path that I made.  They ended up exactly where I wanted them to.

What about the students inquiry?  Is learning to inquire the most important part of inquiry learning?  How can you learn to inquire if somebody is always doing it for you?

Did I do my job as a teacher? Looking back at my first couple of classes, I would say not always.  Yet, if I could go back and tell myself this, I probably wouldn’t want to.  It is something I needed to see, feel and experience on my own.  It was my inquiry, and it will never end.

About Craig

In Kyoto 京都
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6 Responses to Teacher Vs. Student Inquiries

  1. I have been talking with teachers a lot about this today! In my view – a great context for inquiry is never a matter of teacher VS students’ inquiry but rather teacher AND student inquiry. It’s a dance…we just tale it in turns to lead. Great post – thank you!


  2. @dwyerteacher says:

    Thanks Kath. I toyed with idea of using the upside down v, like a logic statement, but I didn’t know how to make that character with my keyboard! I agree, it is both and, not either or. I love your analogy of the dance. Have you read Dancing with Systems by Donella Meadows? Simply beautiful, and a powerful metaphor that is easily applied to the classroom.



  3. Marina says:

    This is a great post. We, as teachers, can get so caught up in creating the ‘best’ unit including all aspects of learning, as you so clearly listed in your post, that we forget about the learners’ needs. When I first started teaching many years ago I used to plan incredible lessons and then get upset when the students didn’t respond in the way I had anticipated! The dance analogy is perfect, Kath. We have to turn on the music, step onto the floor and then invite the students to dance with us, taking turns to lead. It is not easy and it takes a lot of energy but when it works it is fabulous!


  4. Great reflection. So many ways to create a partnership between students and teachers in terms of creating the inquiry process, but we all have to stop and develop that mindset on a frequent basis. What a great subject for a faculty meeting: shifting from teacher to cooperative inquiry generation. Thanks for the idea; think I will write about that on my blog tomorrow!


  5. Sounds like a great inquiry! And no probs being mostly yours IMHO, provided that while you are going through the stages, there is time to discuss with students why you/they/we are doing this and that. Providing a great inquiry for students and modelling the process and partner with students (to whatever appropriate percentage) means that as we release students to do their own inquiries, they are well able to manage without us – which is what we are all surely aiming for…..


  6. lanafleiszig says:

    A great post to think about! There is a delicate balance between teacher scaffolding and student driven inquiry. From reading your thoughts I can only imagine that the next unit of inquiry for your students, may look a little different. I’d love to hear how it goes as I’m often thinking about this with my colleagues when planning mathematical units of inquiry.


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