One of the first things that resonated with us was that teachers who work together have increased / improved engagement. The hours Bonny and I spend collaborating with each other and Brian, will ultimately help improve student engagement at school and in their pursuit of their personal inquiry. The next thing were were excited about was that students are more engaged when 'teachers are the designers of learning'. When we design interesting opportunities for students, they will feel more engaged in what they are doing and learning.
Last year and this year, one of the greatest is how much the teacher should intervene and not. We loved that he provided us with the reassurance that it is still inquiry if we scaffold them with the teacher support and information they may need at certain places. If students are struggling to move beyond background knowledge and deeper into their questions, how do we help each of them get there? Allowing students to freely explore a topic with no teach guidance will lead to frustrations and minimal learning from all the parties involved. Part of the teachers role in the Inquiry Buddy process is to help students find those deeper components of their personal inquiries. We need to help them find real world connections for the things that they are exploring. For those student studying magic - what skills does it take, can you find a resource to help you with this process. If they are studying baking, what are the real world connections? Could we design a bake sale, what other skills would that take? It is great to do this, but at the same time, helping the students recognize what background knowledge they need to get to this next place. Not allowing them our us to jump to quickly to the great, deep project. If the teachers jump too quickly, the students get overwhelmed. If students jump to quickly, they think they are done, but has any meaningful learning taken place?
Inquiry Buddies is a free inquiry, where we have allowed students to explore a topic based on their personal interests, curiosities and questions. Free inquiry does not mean free from the teacher. The teachers are ESSENTIAL in ensuring that students are making their inquiries authentic and meaningful. We are there to help them find balance, seek out knowledge, and scaffold them towards finding the deeper meaning. It is also the role of the teacher to know when to step back and let the process organically develop, sometimes too much teacher involvement can also negatively impact the process. Collaborating with other teachers helps you recognize when it is time to step back and when it is more important to step in and help.