Hello from Australia

Erin Patel

Erin Patel @ezpatel

Hello everyone. My name is Erin Patel and I am a teacher librarian at Kambala Girls School in Sydney, Australia. Kambala is an Independent girls school which provides for students from 6 months to 18 years. My role focuses in the senior school library, from year 7 to 12. Although I have been a classroom teacher since 2008 and a teacher librarian for almost three years, this is my first year at Kambala. I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to work with inspirational teachers and students, as well as having access to an innovative IT team which has implemented technological tools which enable me to get creative with Guided Inquiry.

In fact, although I have used Guided Inquiry and the ISP to guide my teaching in the past, Kambala has really embraced the model as a tool for improving student learning and therefore has been central to the approach I have taken in undertaking collaborative projects at Kambala. Having only recently graduated with a Masters of Education, Guided Inquiry was the focus of much of our training. I connected with the constructivist nature of Guided Inquiry which specified that students come with their own experiences, understanding and interests and in order to deepen their understanding, we need to find a way to connect this with the content and skills (and creating a third space in which this learning is extended), while we guide and intervene as necessary.

Having the space to explore Guided Inquiry in my teaching has been a very positive experience. Not only has it enabled me to make connections with teachers through collaborative projects, it has allowed for the building of information and transliteracy skills across a year group. I have collaborated on three projects this year alone, which built upon transliteracy skills on a single year group of  Year 9 students. What began as a new process, became almost second nature and largely independent by the third project. This enabled me to measure my own impact upon the learning of students (often a difficult task for teacher librarians who may not be involved in the formal assessment process). With each project, I adapted my approach according to the time constraints. For example, the first project was run over two weeks of five lessons per week. This required a different approach to the second project which was over ten weeks with only one lesson per week. In the second project, I implemented a flipped classroom approach to ensure that the students could make full use of the classroom time to work on their projects and provide one on one support, whilst also allowing students to work at their own pace.

This collaboration has had an incredible impact upon the relationships I have built with subject teachers. Implementing a model that is based on best practice and research improved my credibility as a teacher. This is a very helpful way to advocate for your library. In fact, one project turned into another and before long, I was working with various faculties and teachers on vastly different projects, but all modelled on Guided Inquiry.

This week I would like to share my experiences using Guided Inquiry. I hope we can all learn from each other in this community and that I can contribute something that may trigger ideas for others, as others have contributed to my own understanding of Guided Inquiry.

Erin Patel

Twitter: @ezpatel