Along with school librarian leaders Liz Deskins, Violet Harada, La Dawna Harrington, Paige Jaegar, Mary Keeling, Annette Lamb, Rebecca Morris, Olga Nesi, Rachel Wadham, and Joyce Valenza, I had the privilege of participating in the second annual Inquiry Summit sponsored by ABC-CLIO/Libraries Unlimited. Sharon Coatney, senior acquisitions editor, facilitated the meeting, and her colleagues Marlene Woo-Lun, Kathryn Suarez, and Jen Psau provided support.
One of the activities in which we engaged was small group brainstorming to respond to three questions: 1. What are the best strategies for implementing inquiry learning in schools? 2. How do we train K-12 educators/administrators? What materials do we need? 3. How are the Common Core State Standards changing the need/intent to implement inquiry learning?
For me, the responses to the first question were the most relevant to the topics we discuss here on the Culture of Collaboration blog. Those in the room seemed to agree that working within a coteaching structure provided the best support for inquiry learning. This structure allows educators to model the process with and for each other as well as for students. All educators involved must have a shared inquiry learning vocabulary that can best be taught, learned, and reinforced in coteaching situations. Educators must also share a value for the time that inquiry learning takes. Educators and students must have permission to experiment, fail or succeed, and try again with new evidence or in new contexts.
Our colleagues, be they librarians, educators serving in other roles, or administrators, must see inquiry in action in order to understand it and experience the value of this process. As school librarians, we must demonstrate the need for inquiry learning as a lifelong learning process that students can and will transfer to other learning environments and apply in their careers, family, and civic life. We must also help others value the lifeskills and dispositions that students learn and practice as they engage in the deep learning afforded by inquiry.
In Thursday’s post, I will share an example of an effective professional development opportunity facilitated by Dr. Leslie Maniotes earlier this month for the Denton Inquiry 4 Lifelong Learning Initiative. Please stay tuned.