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ECE Resources

Teacher inquiry in ECE

HomeECE resourcesTeacher inquiry in ECE

Topic summary

OVERVIEW

How to engage in teacher inquiry using the spiral of inquiry

An introduction to teacher inquiry in ECE and its role in improving teacher practice and student outcomes

STAGE 1: SCANNING

The spiral of inquiry in ECE: An introduction to scanning

A brief introduction to the scanning phase of the spiral of inquiry and some tools to use during this phase.

Scanning tools

This template is designed to help teachers develop a sense of what is happening for children with whom they are working. The tool equips you to collect observational data, as well as children’s perspectives on the learning and activities.

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This tool has been designed for use by a colleague or critical friend to observe your practice and collect observational data. It also provides a tool to collect information about your interactions with children. Teachers could also use this template when watching a video of their own practice.

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This template is designed to help teachers evaluate their own practice in a given area.

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STAGE 2: FOCUSING

The spiral of inquiry in ECE: An introduction to focusing

An introduction to the focusing stage of the spiral of inquiry for honing the area of investigation

Focusing tools

This tool has been designed to help teachers list things that emerged during the scanning phase, to evaluate what’s working well and what’s not, and to consider the amount and quality of evidence collected prior to selecting an area of focus. It is useful for helping to narrow your focus and identify any areas where you might need to collect a bit more evidence.

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e this tool to help you to select an area to focus on. It will help you rate potential areas to address against the level of need, your capacity to make changes, your strengths, challenges, your interest in it, potential to collaborate and ease of assessing progress and change. It’s a very quick tool to use to help you keep moving through the inquiry process.

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If you have a general area in need of improvement, use this tool to narrow your focus by identifying the who, what, how and why of your key observations, and what the learning should look like. You can also use it to speculate possible causes of the problem or challenges. A narrow focus will enable you to conduct a tighter, deeper and more effective inquiry.

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The 5 Whys analysis method is useful for identifying and defining the problem. It can be very difficult to clearly identify the root problem or issue, and this tool helps you to get past symptoms or factors that may affect a child’s behaviour and motivation (such as tiredness) but are not the true cause of the problem.

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STAGE 3: DEVELOPING A HUNCH

The spiral of inquiry in ECE: Developing a hunch

An introduction to generating theories about how teaching can influence learning and outcomes

Developing a hunch tools

Use this tool to identify and interrupt assumptions you have made about the issue you are focusing on. Develop a theory of action by listing your actions before examining the beliefs, perceptions, attitudes and assumptions that motivated your actions. This is a very useful tool to interrupt your automatic reasoning process and to check the validity of your assumptions prior to forming hunches about what you could change.

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Use this tool to formulate ‘if, then’ statements and to consider what evidence you will need to collect in order to test your hunch, and what further information and professional learning you will need in order to take action.

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STAGE 4: PROFESSIONAL LEARNING

The spiral of inquiry in ECE: an introduction to professional learning

An introduction to moving beyond reflection and deepening professional knowledge to improve practice

Professional learning tools

Use this tool to identify what you want to learn in this phase of inquiry and to set a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-driven, Time-bound). A SMART goal will enable you to clarify what you are researching, focus your efforts, and use your time and resources more productively.

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Use this tool to brainstorm potential resources you could access, and to plan the learning strategies you will use.

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STAGE 5: TAKING ACTION

The spiral of inquiry in ECE: an introduction to taking action

Discover more about how taking action should be an informed and critical process

Taking action tools

Use this detailed chart to record iterative cycles of planning throughout the inquiry.

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This simple tool provides the space to list and monitor the progress of actions you are planning to take and/or strategies you are planning to trial. 

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STAGE 6: CHECKING

The spiral of inquiry in ECE: an introduction to checking

Learn about checking the effectiveness of the changes made and new approaches trialled in the taking action phase

Checking tools

Use this table to collate and compare the data from the beginning of the inquiry in the scanning and focusing phases and in the checking phase.

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Use this table to collate and critically interrogate your evidence for this inquiry. This tool includes some critical questions to help you evaluate the impact your actions has had on your teaching practice and children’s learning.

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