Our Inquiry Process
Inquiry consists of six phases, which, it is important to note, are not linear in nature. That is, work can be done simultaneously in different domains at once. For example, at Glenrosa Middle School, work was being done on multiple occasions both in the focusing and hunching phases as we continued to narrow down and refine our work.
In this section consider answering these questions:
- What is going for our learners?
- How do we know?
- Why does it matter?
At GMS, we have just completed our second year of using the Spirals of Inquiry as a vehicle for school improvement. Our process, supported by the District's Instructional Learning Team and our Curricular Leaders, was a collaborative and inquiry-based approach that included both teachers and students in the scanning process. It is important to point out that this is a process that often spiral or "loops back" on itself. For example, an initial scan of our school and school culture led to us generating questions that were then questioned and refined. It led to data collected that was closely examined and pointed us to re-scanning the initial questions to remove the bias that we felt we were seeing in the answers collected. In total, our initial scanning process took months as we scanned, tried to find some focus and developed a hunch, only to re-scan and refine both our process and produce data that was more valid. As we continue to move forward, always keeping the quality of learners for everyone in our school community as a priority, we will constantly ask questions, collect evidence, reflect upon what we see (and what we think we see), adjust what we are doing, and then re-adjust on the way always making our thinking, and our doing, as visible and transparent as possible. Our ultimate goal is to continue to be a community of learners who are all learning, growing and improving while working collectively with all of our community voices to transform the learning for all learners at Glenrosa Middle School.
- Scanning involves:
- A wide perspective on learning, informed by learning principles (OECD)
- Finding out what learners think and feel about their learning and what their families and communities perceive about their learning
- Focusing involves:
- Using information from the scan to identify an area for concentrated team learning
- Gathering more information if you need it to understand the situation
- Building on strengths or positives, as well as clarifying challenges
- Identifying a common area that the team can work on together
Developing a Hunch
- Developing a hunch involves:
- Getting deeply held beliefs and assumptions out on the table about your own practice
- Focusing on things your team can do something about
- Checking your assumptions for accuracy before moving ahead
- New Learning is:
- Tailored to the situation
- Directly linked to the focus identified earlier in the spiral
- Exploratory testing how new approaches could be better than previous practices
- Sustained and supported over time
- Taking action involves:
- Learning more deeply about new ways of doing things and then trying them out
- Evaluating the impact on learners and seeking their feedback
- Building trust and cultivating a growth mindset
- Checking involves:
- Knowing what you want to accomplish for your learners and having specific ways to determine how you are doing early in the inquiry process
- Setting high expectations that your actions will make a substantial difference for ALL learners
- Setting the stage for what comes next