Thursday 18 April 2013

"What's your inquiry Ms G?"

At our most recent collaborative planning day, the Elementary Connected Classroom (ECC) team spent some time looking at the focus for our professional development next year. I left the planning day feeling super excited that the focus for our professional learning next year is going to be centered around inquiry-based learning.

Thinking about that prompted me to write this post outlining a brief history of the Inquiry Project in the ECC. There is so much more that I want to write about this; I'm having a tough time deciding what to write next! But, before anything else, I need to thank Evander. It's important that I do that first.

Evander is a student in my class (not his real name). Recently, at the start of an inquiry block, I led students through a quick demo to show what a new, deeper layer of inquiry questions could look like. Afterwards, Evander came over and asked me a seemingly simple question.

"What's your inquiry Ms G?"

I thought for a minute. I stopped and honored that question - the first telling aspect to this little story is that I did stop and listen and think carefully before responding to this bright-eyed, curious, eager-looking ten year old standing in front of me. I started to say that two years ago I did my own inquiry for my Masters Degree, and then I started to say that a few years before that I did a few inquiries about technology in the classroom, but then I stopped myself. Again. The second stop? Also very telling.

I stopped and thought to myself, you know, that's a good question. Why don't I have an inquiry right now? And so I looked at Evander and answered him: "You know Evander, that's a great question and you know what else? I'm going to start an inquiry project right now and my inquiry project is that I want to learn more about the inquiry project."

That answer absolutely satisfied and thrilled him like it could only have satisfied and thrilled a ten year old. His serious and complete acceptance of my answer was absolutely precious - he was so excited, and so proud to be the one to have asked the question that prompted all this - have I said I love my job lately? I LOVE my job. That moment when he showed me how happy he was for me and his sincere acceptance of my response reminded me yet again that I love what I do each day.

So, Evander stood there and watched while I typed out a list of ten questions, ten things that I wonder about and want to learn about the Inquiry Project. He and I were both amazed at how quickly I was able to pour out ten decent questions; obviously this is something that's been on my mind and, interestingly enough, since writing out those ten questions, I have felt SO much better. I must have been overdue for some inquiry about inquiry.

I thanked Evander. He smiled one of those big, genuine smiles that fixes the world, if but for a second. And then off he went to work on his slideshow about poisonous snakes. He's WAY ahead of me, already working on his presentation while I've just written out my first set of questions. Guess I have some catching up to do...

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