Scaffolding Curiosity – Five Precepts for Guiding Inquiry Blog
Scaffolding Curiosity – Five Precepts for Guiding Inquiry Blog
Cindy Blackburn
3 min read

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Why is this workshop relevant?

Often, teams are grounded in shared theoretical beliefs about how children
learn best. We are sold and on the inquiry boat, but we just don’t exactly know how to put our ideas into action. As a coordinator, this “knowing-doing gap” has been the subject I think most about. What are the tools we can give teachers to move them from thinking about the inquiry to taking risks and practising it? More specifically, what does it mean to guide and structure inquiry, and what tools are most effective for this?

This workshop summarizes my findings from seven years as a teacher and coordinator trying to support and structure inquiry across various settings. These, for me, have been the biggest and hardest lessons- the ones I come back to time and time again as my true north for the teacher and leader I want to be.

How can I go further?

The best workshops leave attendees with more questions than when they started (just as our classrooms should)! My ultimate hope was that this resource would become a provocation for teachers and teams who are hoping to grow their practice. Sharing this presentation with your team could be a great jumping off point for introducing new teachers to an inquiry or a tool for setting the beginning of year goals with your whole team.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Which inquiry-based practices are you and your team most confident with?
  • Which idea are you most excited about exploring further?
  • What questions do you have?

Once you have a question or idea, find your tribe. Creating a culture of inquiry is essential for the growth of all learners. If your school does not already have a strong inquiry culture, start one yourself. Meet up with friends in person or online and help each other to recognize areas of strength, ask questions, and identify learning goals. Partner up or form groups with similar questions or ideas to try. Follow your passions. When we as teachers become empowered and agentic learners, we have far more empathy for nurturing a similar process for our students.

The best, and sometimes most frustrating, part of inquiry is that there is never an end. We can always go further, dig deeper, and continue to challenge our misconceptions and make positive changes to our practice. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by a task, my dad has always said, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” So, take your bite. It doesn’t have to be a big one, but challenge yourself to really work on one thing this year. Take time to check in with yourself, document and reflect on your learning, and summarize your learning. I have included a template for setting and reflecting on goals below!

When you engage in inquiry you empower yourself, your community, and your students. I firmly believe we have the best job in the world. There is so much joy in inquiry, you just have to take that first brave leap from theory to practice.

Going further

Cindy is the PYP Coordinator and Grade 5 teacher at the American School of Antananarivo, Madagascar. She has worked internationally in PYP schools for seven years and in pedagogical leadership for the past four in Albania, China and Thailand. She is a believer in digital collaboration and loves connecting with teachers from around the world to share thinking and best practices.

Disclaimer - The ideas and resources presented in this blog have been developed independently from and are not endorsed by the International Baccalaureate (IB).
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