Posted by: darcymullin | February 18, 2011

A Compelling Case for Inquiry

Last year our district made a fundamental shift in thinking.  Gone were the days of School Growth Plans that were thick, colourful, and full of meaningless data that sat on a shelf.  Once a year they were pulled out and all the data was updated and submitted to the district office – hard copy back on the shelf.  The new model for school development became one of Inquiry.

It was also my first year as a principal starting at a new school.   The Inquiry process was fundamental in shaping the culture of learning in the school.  Last night our staff had our monthly Learning Meeting (which is separate from our staff meeting) where we discuss our school question and our own personal growth as practitioners.  I love the Learning Meetings and here’s why:

  1. For a 1:15 period we talk about our practice and nothing else.
  2. We all have a chance to share and we all have to listen.
  3. We engage in professional learning together.
  4. The process allows for differentiation.  Each teacher is pursuing their own question within the scope of our larger question – everyone enters the learning at different places.
  5. We collaborate and share ideas.
  6. We make a commitment to try something each month and then report back the following month…people comment how they really appreciate the accountability!
  7. The meetings are voluntary and everyone is involved.  Granted we are a small staff.

We are still new to the process, but I am truly amazed and often come away inspired by the conversations and learning that occurs at these meetings.

The purpose of this post is to talk about the way it has changed the culture of our school in the last year.  I will chronicle some of the AHA! moments and our growth in future posts

If you want to read more about our distirct approach and school plans check out this link

I would love to hear people’s comments, questions or experiences with the Inquiry Process.



  1. On the theme of School Growth Plans, have you ever discussed e-portfolios? I’m working through the pros/cons of such a device, and will continue to do so for another year or two: I need to do a e-portfolio for the MET program.

    • Doug, I haven’t thought of the e-portfolios, but I am intrigued by the idea. We have a format that our district has set out, but I would think it would/could/should evolve over time. We should talk about it.

      • There’s a lot of stuff out there and it’s sort of hard to put my head around it – I could spend months/years reading about Inquiry, e-portfolios, DI, modeling, etc. Anyways, I casually follow this blog:

        And noticed that she just posted on twitter about a document that the BC MoE is going to publish. I re-tweeted it…

  2. Are you familiar with School Library Monthly?

    The entire journal is devoted to inquiry based learning in action. It’s fabulous!

    • Thanks Sarah, I will check it out.

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