Composing a Teacher Study Group: Learning about Inquiry in Primary Classrooms

Composing a Teacher Study Group: Learning about Inquiry in Primary Classrooms

Composing a Teacher Study Group: Learning about Inquiry in Primary Classrooms

Composing a Teacher Study Group: Learning about Inquiry in Primary Classrooms

Synopsis

A teacher study group's reposrt of a school/university collaboration to inquire into the multi-layered processes and results of their joint efforts to create school change.

Excerpt

If learning is not made public, it is a waste.

--Potok (1967, p. 142)

Our inquiry group began at Ridgeway Elementary School with many romantic notions of engaging in research that would change teachers, students, grade-level teams, and the school. the group studied together for 1 year as part of a district-funded research and development plan and continues to work together 2 years later, long after funding has evaporated. Herein is the story of the group, its individual members, the students in members' classrooms, and the many complexities of an inquiry group sustaining itself over time.

In thinking about the organization of this book, I am reminded of some old black-and-white movies that I once viewed in a history of film course. Perhaps you recall scenes in such movies that begin with a completely darkened screen. Then, the lens seems to open a bit and viewers can see a tiny hole of light, making out a character or part of the setting. Slowly, the lens progressively opens until the scene is revealed in its entirety. Film makers refer to this strategy as "irising out" because it is similar to what happens in your eyes as your pupils get larger and the iris gets smaller (appears to move out) under certain lighting conditions. This book irises out; in Part I, chapter 1 begins with a description of a lens and then focuses at the center of the "screen" as teachers and students present their inquiry in chapters 2 through 7. in Part ii, the view progressively broadens in each chapter as I move out from presentations by individual teachers, to a view of issues across group members, and to broader contexts.

Chapter 1 is the lens through which the rest of the book is viewed. the chapter has two parts: the first lays out a theory of staff development, and the second presents the themes that emerged from the years of analysis of the work of the study group, children, and staff at Ridgeway Elementary School.

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