In our PDSD Mission Statement, we state that we will “improve the quality of education for all students by engaging in shared inquiry focused on teaching and learning.” We decided that this process of shared inquiry would allow us to systematically provide insight into classrooms and schools in order to see where improvements could be made.
Here are some of the steps in our collective inquiry process:
- In October 2015, Nancy Fitchman Dana, professor of education at the University of Florida, was the keynote speaker at our third annual PDS Workshop. She shared the potential for using teacher inquiry to respond to students’ needs and as a way for teachers’ voices to be heard.
- In July 2016, more than 100 faculty and administrators gathered for an all-day workshop with Dana to learn more about engaging in professional development through inquiry. We examined the role of inquiry in a PDS by considering what inquiry is, what it looks like, and how it might be structured within a PDS.
- Also that summer, Office of School Engagement Director Janna Dresden began a study of the PDSD’s attitudes about practitioner inquiry in order to document the growth of our collective thinking over the next several years.
- At the September 2016 PDSD Coordinating Council meeting, we collectively checked in with one another about how schools were progressing with their plans to begin the inquiry process. School groups then discussed what the inquiry process might look like at their school, what supports would be needed, and what barriers would need to be overcome in order to begin to use inquiry as a tool for professional learning.
- From spring 2016 to now, our collaborative has been discussing ways we can support the inquiry work that is beginning at our partnership schools. We also share ways we are using inquiry with teacher candidates. Many programs are developing ways to include teacher inquiry as part of the practicum experience, so that teacher candidates will have experience with questioning and reflecting on their practice from the outset. A book study of Dana and Yendol-Hoppey’s The Reflective Educator’s Guide to Classroom Research: Learning to teach and teaching to learn through practitioner inquiry is giving us structure and a common language.
- In April 2018, we will host our first Mentor Teacher Recognition and Teacher Candidate Inquiry Fair. UGA teacher candidates will display visual essays and be on hand to discuss their school-based inquiry projects. We will also recognize and thank teachers who mentor UGA teacher candidates.