We just finished an all day event in central Kansas, and I find myself continuing to be surprised by the creativity and dedication of my colleagues across the state. Inquiry is an exciting (but scary) prospect for teachers new to the method, differentiation is a topic that resonates with many educators, and engaging students in knowing as a distinct process from learning is a surprising revelation.
We began the day creating an experience for teacher to build a sense of empathy for the student experience and to set a culture of exploration for the coming day. As we reflected on that early experience throughout the day I found it remarkable how many teachers were honest about their feelings in the training. “Inquiry is exciting, but I am a little scared.” Change can be uncomfortable and anxiety is natural. What I loved about our time this week was the honesty and collegial support in the room. If we’re scared, then we understand the kind of paradigm shift being discussed. Fear also means we’re committed to real change and new risks. So that fear is good and we can work through the anxiety together.
I was surprised by how compelling our discussion of differentiation became. Participants were eager to consider differentiation and assessment deeper. I think we could’ve spent an entire second day talking about learning versus knowing and assessing for competency. I suspect we will prepare more materials for examining differentiation to share and to have ready to support participant discussions like this one in the future.
I had a bit of trepidation regarding the ways we were incorporating knowing practice throughout the workshop. We had the research to support our methods and we’d discussed it with other members of the professional development community. That still didn’t change the fact that we were doing something different and I also experience some fear of the unknown. It was exciting seeing our colleagues willingly engage in the process of knowing practice and we were seeing the rewards of deliberately “working our hippocampus” through re-consolidation and revision even before the end of the day. We have more to think about, but it was great to see a risk pay off.
I’m looking forward to our follow-up with the participating districts in several weeks. I hope they have stories to share (both good and bad) so that we can help them continue to grow in their ability to prepare inquiry lessons for their students.