This time the iTEAM teachers are writing the blog. What follows is a list of statements they made in response to the prompt . . . “I used to think . . . but now I know.” Reading their insights gives a hint at the power of good professional development to change our way of thinking about classroom practice. More importantly, these statements speak to the power of using a true inquiry approach to drive learning.
So, in what ways did professional development in inquiry change the thinking of a group of Chicago public elementary school teachers? Here’s what they said:
“I used to think the teacher did all questioning. But now I know the students can formulate the questions.”
“I used to think assessment came last when planning. But now I know it comes second. First is knowing what your objectives for student learning are.”
“I used to think you planned in the same order you taught. But now I know it’s just the reverse.”
“I used to think teacher driven. But now I know the teacher is the facilitator and that it is student driven/self-regulated.”
“I used to think the students had to have the correct answer. But now I know it’s the journey that matters most and how they came to their conclusion.
“I used to think inquiry-based lessons had to be elaborate. But now I know they can be simple.”
“I used to think I had to address every question. But now I know I can ask another question/encourage the utilization of tools.”
“I used to think with inquiry it would be difficult to meet standards. But now I know inquiry is standards driven.”"
“I used to think inquiry would be difficult to implement. But now I know the missing pieces, and I can do it.”
“I used to think science wasn’t fun . . . Help! Help! But now, thanks to this professional development, I know it can be exciting!”
“I used to think classroom management was a reflection of your skills. But now I know you can manipulate the environment to manage the classroom.”
“I used to think that remembering and thinking are similar. But now I know when I want a student to think, it means construct an idea NOT RECITE FACTS.”
“I used to think science was difficult. But now I know science is fun.”
“I used to think finding a lesson was a struggle. But now I know a lesson can be extended and expanded.”
“I used to think science was boring. But now I know, through inquiry learning, science can be fun.”
“I used to think teaching was set in stone. But now I know teaching is as broad as the sky.”
“I used to think teacher led. But now I know teacher facilitated.”
“I used to think that if students didn’t respond quickly, they didn’t understand the lesson. But now I know that waiting time is necessary for them to construct an answer.”
“I used to think to get students ready for an experiment they had to have some intensive vocabulary discussions. But now I know children can learn by discovering, exploring, questioning and sharing information.”
“I used to think science is fun. But now I know science is More FUN!!”
Still not convinced?
Then take a look . . .
Science is doing, not listening to lectures, reading textbooks and learning vocabulary. In a single week, teachers became scientists, so that they could in turn release the curious scientist in each of their students. And, yes, Virginia, science is FUN!!!