Teaching is one of the few professions in which someone right out of school has the same level of responsibility as someone with twenty years of experience in the classroom. Novices and veterans are expected to create environments where all children can succeed. As we know, there are compelling stories of beginning teachers in early childhood and elementary environments, who struggle with the “new teacher drama” of the classroom. Even some experienced teachers are challenged by the multiple, and often-competing demands of 21st century education.
We need to commit to a new image of the teacher that is responsive to these challenges, and a new way of thinking about teacher education programs and pre-service teacher preparation. Creating a professional teacher education program within schools, is an opportunity for teachers to acquire the skills and disposition to explore their work with others through the process of collaborative inquiry.
How do you nurture and create a culture of inquiry? As part of this process, the learners begin to gather information, research resources, study and observe. School leaders develop the capabilities of inquiry among their teaching staff, through experiences and investigations. Shared knowledge is a community-building process, and the meaning of their investigation begins to take on greater relevance in their work as teachers. The more we learn about ourselves, the more we realize what we don’t know about ourselves.
The power behind the building of a culture of inquiry is that the process never ends, it is ongoing because we are continually seeking answers to questions we have, and generate new, more precise, questions after gathering and reflecting on the knowledge we have gained from our colleagues.
How refreshing and excited teachers become about “change” when the inquiry into teaching leads to new knowledge constructed collectively in local and broader communities, and helps prepare teachers for diverse teaching.
Dawn Kreisberg is Olam Jewish Montessori Early Childhood Director and has her M.A. Jewish Education.