Spring is a funny time of year. We still have almost 3 full months of school, but inevitably I begin working with one eye toward next year.
Our district has moved toward inquiry in a big way. We no longer have traditional school growth plans, rather school are pursuing individual inquiries. This year our question revolved around implementation of technology, but due to a number of issues beyond anyone’s control we have come to a bit of a standstill. That said, there is still a significant amount of learning going on in our school.
Our teachers are going deeper and interested in learning more about socio-emotional learning, collaborative problem solving, grading and assessment practices and of course there are always a number of staff involved (as leaders) in our district’s SMART Learning initiative. There are staff members interested in all of these areas, but of course some have a more of a vested interest in specific areas of study.
Through inquiry, we can allow teachers to pursue their learning in a way that is meaningful to them and in a way that is going to fit the context of their classroom. For me, that’s where the rubber hits the road. How can we apply what we are learning to enhance the learning and experience our kids have at school. I want teachers (and students for that matter) to have a say in their learning. I want them to be passionate. I want them to be able to choose a topic of study that is going to benefit their classwork.
Back to the title of this post.
If we have teachers pursuing a variety of questions through a structured collaborative process do we have a clear and compelling vision in our school? All of my study and reading on school leadership is clear. High performing schools that embrace change and put kids first, make decisions through the lens of a clear and compelling vision.
I am struggling with this dichotomy.
By empowering teachers to have choice and allowing our school to pursue multiple inquiries, we give up on one clear and compelling vision.
If we restrict the number of inquiries we are limiting the opportunities to learn, possibly reducing the engagement of staff, and more importantly not considering the context and specific needs of classrooms.
In the end, a large part of me feels that limiting opportunities for teachers to learn and create better, more supportive classrooms for our students is not the way to go. It goes against conventional wisdom, but the field of education (after years of stagnation) is changing at an unprecedented speed and going against conventional wisdom may become the new norm.
I would be very interested to hear others thoughts on this question.