“The challenge of creating greater quality and equity for all learners requires that we bring a networked mindset to our work. The challenges are too great for any one teacher, school or district to go it alone.”
Halbert and Kaser (2012)
Whenever I have the opportunity to meet with the Networks of Inquiry and Innovation I always leave the conversation inspired and inquisitive. Last Thursday was no exception. After meeting Linda Kaser and Judy Halbert at an assessment conference in Whistler in 2010, I have been involved with the network and am continually inspired by teachers who are engaging in inquiry to ask questions about what is working and what could be working better in their practice, for their students.
I want to share some thoughts about Thursday’s gathering.
The network is an amazing initiative because it breaks down the walls of titles and qualifications. In the room were Directors, Principals, Vice – Principals and teachers and from the outside listening in one would struggle to distinguish one from the other. What would be clear is the commitment to education and to the students in their care. This commitment is reflective in the journey that some teachers take to be present at these gatherings. One flew in from Bella Coola!
Judy told a metaphorical story of how in teaching there are schools of yellow fish all travelling in one direction with uniformity. Then, if you look closely there are a few blue fish that are swimming against the tide refusing to follow the other yellow fish. The network is a place for the blue fish to meet and share their successes and struggles, knowing there are other blue fish to support them in their inquiries. Being involved in the network provides the blue a safe place to ask themselves the questions the network encourages us to ask our students.
Where are you going with your learning?
– This question requires us to be clear of our learning goals and intentions. Without a clear destination it is less likely that all students will arrive.
How’s the learning going?
– Implied here is the use of success criteria, related to a learning intention. Descriptive feedback is also needed to help students understand how to improve their learning.
Where to next?
– Learning doesn’t have an end date. What are the next steps?
Being involved in the Network has allowed me to identify aspects of my practice that I wanted to “figure out” and engage with at a deeper level. Using the spiral of inquiry and these three questions I have become a more purposeful practitioner. I encourage you and your staff to consider how you can become part of the network and see how it can impact your practice as it has mine.
The Network of Inquiry and Innovation can be found at www.noii.ca