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Teacher inquiry

HomeSchool resourcesTeacher inquiry

Topic summary

OVERVIEW

How to engage in teacher inquiry using the spiral of inquiry

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

STAGE 1: SCANNING

The spiral of inquiry: An introduction to scanning

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

Scanning tools

This template is designed to help teachers develop a sense of what is happening for students in their classroom. The tool equips you to collect observational data, as well as student perspectives on the learning programme and their progress during the lesson. There is also space to plot student progress and achievement. This tool is a starting point, so any findings would need to be explored in a broader context and further evidence collected prior to moving onto the focusing phase. 

PDF file or Word .docx file

This tool has been designed for use by a colleague or critical friend to observe a lesson or part of a lesson and collect observational data. It also provides a tool to collect data on your interactions with students, student voice and measure student progress during the lesson. Teachers could also use this template when watching a video of their own practice.

PDF file or Word .docx file

This tool is designed to help you bring all your data together to assess its quality and thoroughness, and to look for emerging patterns, categories and trends that are worthy of attention in the subsequent stages of inquiry.

PDF file or Word .docx file

This tool is designed to help you bring all your data together to assess its quality and thoroughness, and to look for emerging patterns, categories and trends that are worthy of attention in the subsequent stages of inquiry.

PDF file or Word .docx file

This survey tool is designed to allow you to collect student voice across a range of academic and socio-emotional factors.

PDF file or Word .docx file

STAGE 2: FOCUSING

The spiral of inquiry: An introduction to focusing

An overview of the focusing stage of the spiral of inquiry and some tools to help narrow and refine the focus of inquiry.

Focusing tools

This template is designed to help teachers develop a sense of what is happening for students in their classroom. The tool equips you to collect observational data, as well as student perspectives on the learning programme and their progress during the lesson. There is also space to plot student progress and achievement. This tool is a starting point, so any findings would need to be explored in a broader context and further evidence collected prior to moving onto the focusing phase. 

PDF file or Word .docx file

This tool has been designed for use by a colleague or critical friend to observe a lesson or part of a lesson and collect observational data. It also provides a tool to collect data on your interactions with students, student voice and measure student progress during the lesson. Teachers could also use this template when watching a video of their own practice.

PDF file or Word .docx file

This tool is designed to help you bring all your data together to assess its quality and thoroughness, and to look for emerging patterns, categories and trends that are worthy of attention in the subsequent stages of inquiry.

PDF file or Word .docx file

This tool is designed to help you bring all your data together to assess its quality and thoroughness, and to look for emerging patterns, categories and trends that are worthy of attention in the subsequent stages of inquiry.

PDF file or Word .docx file

This survey tool is designed to allow you to collect student voice across a range of academic and socio-emotional factors.

PDF file or Word .docx file

STAGE 3: DEVELOPING A HUNCH

The spiral of inquiry: An introduction to developing a hunch

How to go about developing a hunch as part of the spiral of inquiry

Developing a hunch tools

Use this tool to develop a clear picture of a problem, understand why this problem occurs, and to begin to generate potential ways to address it. This tool works well following on from the 5 Whys Analysis from the focusing phase.Brainstorm possible causes and group them into categories. Some categories could be people, curriculum, methods, policies, procedures, equipment, materials, and the environment. Identify the effects that the causes have on students, staff, the school, and the community. You need a good understanding of the causes and effects of the problem to begin come up with some improvement actions. Try to decide what changes you would like to see, so that in the checking phase you can assess whether your actions have made a difference.

PDF file or Word .docx file

Use 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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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: An introduction to professional learning

A brief introduction to the professional learning phase of the spiral of inquiry and some useful tools for identifying the focus and possible sources of professional learning.

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.

PDF file or Word .docx file

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

PDF file or Word .docx file

STAGE 5: TAKING ACTION

The spiral of inquiry: An introduction to taking action

How to go about taking action by trying new approaches and practices and recording their impact.

Taking action tools

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

PDF file or Word .docx file

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.

PDF file or Word .docx file

This tool has been designed for teams to monitor progress in a group inquiry. There is space to identify where team members are feeling stuck and tweaks to be made, and to list next steps.

PDF file or Word .docx file

STAGE 6: CHECKING

The spiral of inquiry: An introduction to checking

An overview of the checking stage of the spiral of inquiry and some tools for recording and evaluating evidence of the impact of changed practices and new approaches.

Checking tools

Evaluate and measure the impact of your inquiry.

PDF file or Word .docx file

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 data for this inquiry. This tool includes some critical questions to help you evaluate the impact your actions has had on your teaching practice and student learning.

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Use the same data collection methods as you did in the scanning phase in order to measure the effectiveness of your actions.

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Revisit your Detailed Action Plan from the taking action phase to examine your findings, reflect, and set a new SMART goal for the next cycle of your inquiry.

"Your work is valuable and education is lucky to have your insight, knowledge and courage to try something new. I have found the research that you put up on The Education Hub very interesting. It is generating a lot of discussion and thought in our staffroom."

Suzanne, Year 3-4 teacher

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