Understanding effective teaching through inquiry

When reflecting on my inquiry, a challenge has been to ensure that it is purposeful not just for me, but for others in our teaching profession.  This week Professor Graeme Aitken led our school leaders in the cluster on a session about collaborative inquiry.  The session was based on the question 'How can we come together to integrate our expertise and our knowledge to collaborate?'.

Some of the key points that I noted from the session are below:

  • Inquiry learning was meant to be a way of thinking about teaching
  • The most important thing is working out what we want to achieve
  • Teaching has 3 goals:  Enjoyment and interest (more interested in coming home buzzing), Confidence (kids leave us with a sense of being able to do it themselves) and Achievement (we want them to be successful).  Unfortunately we emphasis achievement to the detriment of enjoyment.  
  • Effective teaching time is when all of these goals are intertwined. 



Basic characteristics of Inquiry:
  1. Taking stock (SCAN)- where are we are at as a school?  How are our students experiencing at this current state?  What do we know about what’s happening now?
    1. What is the data telling us by who is doing well and who is not doing well?  By teacher.  Mapping where we have pockets of teaching success.
    2. Scan - scores tell us something.  Can our learners tell us where they going?  Engagement scan.  Can they tell us what they’re learning and why and where it relates.
    3. Instruments to measure this:  Rongihea te Hau (scan of how children feel about school).
      1. Achievement is function of the teacher/about the students and their family.
      2. Working together to get 100% of learners walking the stage with dignity, purpose and options by 2020.  Name 2 adults in this school/setting who believe that you will be a success in life?
      3. Taitaako - my teacher (pull out student focus)
      4. NZCER - me and my school instrument (Wellbeing at school survey).
      5. ERO - wellbeing survey.
      6. Harvard university
  2. Focus:  Hunch, what is the problem?  Eg poor achievement in Science.  Talking about the solution - taking away from having to do with the kids but more with the teachers - develop the teaching of literacy not subject specific.  What’s their best guess?  Is there anything we need to learn to implement.  Hunch solutions might give us evidence of success, failure or improvement.  Where we find a teacher who is having success, we need to find them and use them!!  We have to build a culture of trying to learn from each other.  Sharing stories of failure is important too.  Needs trust (not using it in appraisal, not that the kids are the best).
  3. Encourage our kids to try something, we should do it too (No-one’s gona die).  We can’t keep doing it wrong, if someone next door is doing it right.  Impactful teaching!.

You cannot improve what you cannot measure!

In the Otumoetai cluster, for their achievement challenges they focussed on student wellbeing (quoted ERO.)  "Importance of physical, social and cultural wellbeing as a precursor to student engagement and learning".

My key takeouts:
Professor Aitken's session resonated with me and here is why.
  • Whilst our achievement challenges are important, student wellbeing is just as important and should be at the forefront of our thinking when we are planning to move forward.  This to me is a holistic approach to understanding how best to serve the needs of our kids and our community.  
  • There are so many teachers at our school who are doing such great things and we need to take the opportunity to utilise their skills to better our practices.  
  • When students are asked 'name a teachers that you believes you will be successful', I would hope someone says 'Ms Apelu'.

Aitken, G. (2009). The inquiring teacherClarifying the concept of teaching effectiveness


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