The Journey Thus Far
It’s often been said that I don’t know how to stop; it’s fair to say that there is a lot of truth in that statement, but I like it that way! Growing up in a regional town, with a teacher as a father, I was always taught that anything was possible, but growth was vital. Lifelong learning was valued in my household, and many an afternoon was spent with my Nan helping me to trawl encyclopedias and interview professionals in order to seek answers to my questions. These skills, developed in an era where assignments were handwritten, and Google was in its early stages, I have always valued; they fuelled a curiosity in me that constantly leads me in new directions. It is this experience that has cultivated my passion for teaching students how to learn. Whilst many teachers develop their identity in close connection with their specific teaching area, I feel my teaching identity is less aligned with my teaching area of Health and Physical Education, and more so with the pedagogical approaches and technology integration that affords students the opportunity to learn how to learn.
Over the past 11 years, the education system within Queensland has afforded me many opportunities for personal and professional growth. My journey started out in a large metropolitan boys’ school, where I developed a passion for exploring new pedagogies and technology platforms. During my 8 years at this school, my teaching blossomed from the traditional, teacher-centred ‘chalk and talk’ to eventually including interactive technologies allowing content curation and student progress-monitoring, flipped learning techniques, and problem based learning strategies. Whilst I am still passionate about these aspects of my teaching, it’s important to note that this was not without experiencing hurdles, failures, and many neigh-sayers.
My jump to all girls’ education has presented further barriers to my experimentation with innovative pedagogies and technologies. Over the past 3 years, the restrictive nature of approved technology use, the closely-held traditions of the school, and the fear of impacting previously-reputable results have proven to be hefty barriers to the integration of innovative pedagogies. With the introduction of the New QCE System within Queensland, however, the push to equip our students with 21st century skills presents a strong argument for a move away from teacher-centred pedagogies.
My current understanding of inquiry learning is that it is a student-centred approach to learning that requires skills such as question deconstruction, sub-question development, knowledge of cognitive verbs, research skills, critical thinking skills, and content curation. Within the scope of inquiry learning exists a number of pedagogical approaches, including project-based and problem-based learning. As I have not yet had the opportunity to properly sink my teeth into inquiry learning within my current educational setting, I have a number of questions related to my role as a Head of Department leading such change, and the way in which inquiry learning must be approached within the all girls’ setting:
How does the culture of the classroom affect the success of the inquiry learning pedagogy?
How can teachers ensure that students are utilising critical thinking skills when engaging in inquiry learning?
What are the implications for professional learning programs to ensure teachers are adequately prepared to utilise an inquiry learning pedagogy?
The below graphic illustrates the sub questions and search words I’ll be utilising to investigate these issues within the inquiry learning setting.