It’s Leslie Maniotes, the author and professional developer for Guided Inquiry Design. I try to reserve this space for practitioners to reflect on their work. However, as you may know, if you follow me on twitter and facebook, I’ve been traveling. Two weeks ago, I was in California presenting workshops, sessions and a keynote at the California School Library Association conference. And, last week, I was in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada and had the great pleasure to work with the faculty at St George School and present at their local Independent school Professional Development day conference.
Through my days in BC, I coached teams, planned with school leaders on how GID can be used as a professional development framework for personalized teacher learning, and hashed out some details about the connection between Design Thinking and Guided Inquiry Design, as well as why we would bother to blend the two models.
I also had the privilege of seeing students engaged in the Immerse phase in 4th grade. I also interacted with 6th grade teachers and students in the Explore->Identify phase. These observations and reflective conversations with the teachers were inspiring, enlightening, and capacity building for all involved.
Saint George has been working on the Guided Inquiry practice in their K-12 environment for 3 years now. They have taken an alternative route to implementation and training, and have found great benefit in coaching to make incremental shifts. Coaching conversations are a powerful way to sustain and grow Guided Inquiry Design practice. After high quality professional development,
coaching offers a personalized approach that reaches teachers where they are and helps them to make that small next step forward into deeper use of the model.
Guided Inquiry Design is not the phases of the framework alone, though they are the core of it. The embedded tools and how/when to use them require practice, implementation and a cycle of reflection to ensure growth. There is so much to learn from reflecting on how we engage inquiry in our classrooms. That’s why coaching is such a strong support. Through coaching and conversation about the work challenges arise, teachers biases and fall backs are exposed, and with an open mind, together we can reset expectations with tweaks to our practice, and go at it again.
A few questions from teachers (and myself) that arise while coaching GID:
- When do we have and espouse that inquiry mindset?
- When might we be shutting our students down by the prompts we offer or the resources we present?
- How can we open students up to learning about their world and not worry about the project?
- How can we get the best questions and the optimal results each time?
- How long should we linger in each phase? How do I know when to move on?
- When should a protocol be used and when should we be more open and fluid with the phases?
- When should we return to a previous phase? In what ways is the process iterative?
- How are we being flexible in the GID process, are we sticking with the intent of each phase?
- Are we using the tools to facilitate the process or are they holding students back in some way?
- When should we use technology and when should we stick with pen and paper?
- How are we meeting the needs of diverse learners through our design and scaffolds?
I found the teachers at St George, ready to reflect, open to change and improvement, and dedicated to doing only the best work possible. It was inspiring to be with such dedicated professionals.
I will share some of those experiences in the coming days, but want to encourage reflective conversations on the process with your colleagues, even if you don’t have a person coaching you, find that think partner and make it part of your routine practice of GID. Use the Guided Inquiry Design book as your guide and reference for your decision making. Feel free to reach out to me with questions you might have.
I look forward to sharing the learning from these experiences with our community.
Happy learning, questioning, and going deeper- it’s what we do!
Leslie Maniotes, PhD
Author and Consultant