Last year, I became obsessed with inquiry-based learning. It all began when I read Trevor MacKenzie’s book Dive Into Inquiry. There is so much more to inquiry than this, but one of the things I took from the book was the need for me to learn how to ask the right questions about my content and the importance of helping foster the curiosity of my students so that they become better at asking the right questions about their own learning.
In writing the dedication to MacKenzie’s book, George Couros said that Trevor “guides readers through the process of relinquishing control of the classroom in order to give students the freedom and flexibility to take control of their own learning, which is truly the first step in opening the pathway to personalized inquiry learning.”
Now, I work as a coach and my role is to help educators find their path to success by leveraging their strengths and shoring up weaknesses in order to improve student learning.
I’m wondering…thinking…if my passion for inquiry-based learning will simply carve a new channel as I shift from ninth graders to adult learners. It’s still about the questions. If I don’t ask the right questions, I can’t find the right answers. If I can help teachers ask the right questions about their classroom management, content and instructional strategies, then just maybe I can help them feel the “freedom and flexibility to take control of their own learning…”.
So I recently retweeted a link to an Edutopia blog titled “5 Powerful Questions Teachers Can Ask Students.” I did that because I immediately translated the five questions in the post that were designed for students, into questions that I could and should ask adult learners as their coach. Here they are, in summary:
- “What do you think?”
- “Why do you think that?”
- “How do you know that?”
- “Can you tell me more?”
- “What questions do you still have?”
And then I listen to the beautiful silence as the thinking process takes place.
The original author, Edutopia Consulting Editor Rebecca Alber, clearly intended the post to help us as teachers learn to release out students to become personalized learners. With very little change to the content, the message is a powerful one for coaches of adult learners, as well.