I’m not usually afraid to take risks. I’ve done some things in my classroom that people consider to be innovative. When there is a new tool that I think will benefit my students, I’m one of the first to try it.
Despite this, somehow the thought of a using an inquiry or passion-based approach in my classroom made me very nervous. I’m not sure why. I’ve done some inquiry units in my classroom in the past. I’ve always been a teacher that valued choice. I am comfortable with students choosing different ways to learn and to show their learning. Still, this felt like a big step for me.
Shelley Wright has been very open about her journey over the past year, and I appreciated her honesty, but as I read, I kept wondering what, beyond the quick sound bites I saw from hers and other classrooms, this would actually look like in a PRIMARY classroom. When I get my new crop of five and six year olds, none of them can yet read. This makes it more than a little difficult for them to do traditional research.
Last spring, I decided that I wanted to take the plunge into inquiry learning beginning with this school year. So during the summer, I made it my mission to find out as much as I could about inquiry classrooms. I took a passion-based learning class from Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach of Powerful Learning Practice (a great foundation). I went to inquiry learning sessions at PD opportunities I had this summer. I hounded people like Amanda Marrinan and Betty-Lou Ayers for specifics. I bought and read books.
The school year approached and I still felt uneasy. Could I do it? What if it didn’t work? Finally, I decided that I couldn’t just teeter on the brink waiting to see what PBL would look like before I began. The only thing to do was to jump right in and do it. I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I’m continuing to look for them along with my students. Let the learning begin.