At our last Specialist Classroom Teacher cluster meeting we were discussing professional inquiry and it's link to the Teacher Registration Criteria. Sharon from Albany Senior High shared how the staff at her school fulfilled the TRC expectations and invited us to come and have a look. This is based on the Teaching as Inquiry model.
Upon arrival Sharon greeted us and explained what would happen. The first hour would be small group presentations with critical friends and in the second hour one person from each group would present to all of the staff.
Small Group Presentations
I observed 7 teachers from different subject areas and was also invited to give feedback on a form provided. Each teacher had a focusing inquiry which was predominantly a look at why a group of students in a particular class was not achieving well. The teacher then made an hypothesis about why that might be. The next step was to conduct some research, this took many forms: student results and attendance were looked into, the student’s teachers of other subjects were talked to, reading of current research was completed and the students themselves were questioned.
After the research was completed the teacher then made a plan based on the research to improve student outcomes. This was put into place and the results evaluated. If it was not successful another plan was put into place. If it was successful the outcomes were documented. The teachers and myself who were observing the presentation were asked to give feedback on what ‘wowed’ us and what other ideas we could offer. This was a positive way of providing feedback. At the end of the small group presentations one teacher was chosen to present to the staff.
All the staff went into the auditorium in which tables were set up for each group with wine, beer, soft-drinks and snacks. One person from each group presented their inquiry to everyone. I really enjoyed hearing from teachers from a range of subject areas. The inquiries covered areas such as the impact of devices on student learning, teaching a common language of learning, how to improve results in reading and writing, and cross curricular assessment to improve student engagement. At the end of the presentations each of the presenters was given a gift and a hug from a very enthusiastic hugger!
I found the enthusiasm and passion of the presenters really inspiring and motivating. Everyone who I saw present was motivated to do the best for their students and seemed to really enjoy the inquiry process. The atmosphere was positive and light-hearted and a really great experience.