Inquiry-Based Professional Learning: Teacher Leaders

Today, I replicated many portions of the Instructional Coach kick off with another team of teacher leaders, my Elementary Math Content Specialists.  After wrestling with the title of this post, I have landed on Inquiry-Based Professional Learning.  I am utilizing opportunities during these first few meetings to set the stage for this team of teacher leaders to design their own learning.

Day 1: Getting to Know You

On a digital platform, my Content Specialists contributed input to 6 prompts, each designed to gather information to influence how we spend our year.  This team of educators consists of those new and returning to the role.  For the first time they will have the opportunity to use inquiry to design their own learning plan for the year.  Now’s the time to take the risk and inspire my educators!

Station 1: What do you want to learn as a Content Specialist this year?

The educators responded to this question: What do you want to learn as a Content Specialist this year?  Some of the ideas included how to integrate technology with math lessons (Yes!  I can’t wait to share some great ideas from the #MTBoS!) and how to design inquiry based lessons and stations especially for primary grades (This will be a great collaborative effort!).

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I love how they already know what they want to learn!  How powerful it will be to acknowledge this and nurture this curiosity!

Station 2: Norms for a Healthy Team

The educators used to respond to the question: What are the components of a healthy team environment that are important to you?  The top votes were for:

  • Being an active participant, being a problem solver, being a collaborator, and being a great listener
  • Have a positive attitude. Be open to all opinions. Be kind and have fun.
  • Collaboration and Communication

What a list of qualities important to these educators!  I’m proud to work with educators who value these norms.

Station 3: Where, how, and when do we learn?

Overwhelmingly, the responses to the question: Where, how, and when do we learn? included anywhere, anytime, and anyplace.  One commonality that I didn’t expect:


Station 4: What makes you #CISDproud?

We are so proud in our district.  When asked What makes you #CISDproud? my educators had thoughtful responses.  Here are a few:

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Station 5: School would be SO much better if…


Yes!  School would be SO much better if we could dance all day!  Well, that, and if there was more time.  That sums up the majority of the input from this station.  Simple, yet important!

Station 6: Who am I?  What is your story?

I promised I’d share this picture of me in 1st grade.  I told my story of 4th grade long division and high school report cards.  I encourage my educators to tell their story.  It is important to who they are and what influences their teaching today.


The educators also shared some of their favorite things with me so that I may brighten their day later this year with something special.

Book Study

We also kicked off our book study.  This year we will be reading Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally by John Van de Walle.  The reflection prompts/questions for month one are:

  • What does it mean to do mathematics? Classroom environments where students are truly doing mathematics – showing persistence, taking risks, reasoning, communicating with one another and making connections do not happen by chance – they are intentionally designed this way.  Capture an image of a classroom environment designed for doing mathematics.  Attach it as a post and include the grade level as well as what you observed that prompted you to capture the moment.

    What does it mean to learn mathematics?  Capture an image that exemplifies students connecting ideas and building knowledge and attach it as a post.  Be sure to include the grade level and notes about what compelled you to take the picture.

    What does it mean to understand mathematics?  Capture an example of student work that demonstrates understanding (at any point on the continiuum) and add it as a post.  Be sure to make a note of the grade level and describe the understanding as relational instrumental or somewhere in between.

It is my intent to facilitate this book study in such a way that the educators truly engage in the content, wrestle with their beliefs and understandings, and formulate evidence to share with their colleagues.

All of this was Day One!  I am excited for this year with my Elementary Math Content Specialists and our work together to grow as instructional leaders!  I am proud to take this risk and try something new because I know it is the right thing to do – to lead this work through an inquiry lens!


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