Inquiry Alone Is Like Singing in the Shower

I was particularly impressed with the perspective Anne DiPardo wrote last week on teacher inquiry.  We’ve asked her to write a four-part series of these; you'll see her next piece soon.

I participated in a conversation Anne had with teachers in a school in Colorado, in which teachers reflected on how and why they engaged in inquiry on their practice and how collaboration supported it.

Here’s an audio clip Anne highlighted from that conversation, in case you didn't have time to listen last week. My favorite line was when one teacher commented that inquiry alone is like singing in a shower: it sounds good for a while but then you realize you’re all alone and are wishing you had a chorus to sing along with you. And then (my addition), you really are better and more likely on tune! 

Organizational conditions that reflect a capacity-building model are those that intentionally support the time and space for people to collaborate, but also build the skills, strategies and habits to use those resources in ways that lead to highly effective teaching and learning in every classroom, in ways that are collectively owned.

Organizational conditions that build a learning organization must simultaneously address the infrastructure (time, books and materials, space, expertise) and the culture (safe space for risk taking; ability to critique practice; shared reflection) within which effective student learning occurs.

That’s how I define a capacity-building model for reform.  What do you think?  How might you define it differently?  What do you hope that policymakers, administrators, and others understand about why we need to put support for educator teams at the heart of school reform efforts?

To hear more from educators who work at Skyline High School in Longmont, Colorado, as they talk about teacher inquiry and collaboration, changing school culture to support it, and how such collaboration both keeps them going and keeps them improving as teachers,  listen to one of the following clips, excerpted from a longer podcast interview:

Why Do Inquiry?

Collaboration Can Look Different at Different Times

How a School Worked to Change Its Culture

If Your School Doesn't Support Collaboration, Look for It Elsewhere!

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