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Professional Inquiry

Learning to Walk the Talk

By Stan Kozak

My PD leadership continues to evolve as a result of ongoing collaborating with Natural Curiosity staff over the last few years.  We have moved to walking the inquiry talk in our work leading teacher professional development by applying professional inquiry. Our ongoing collaboration has supported professional development risk taking.  As a result, the nature of these experiences has shifted significantly.

1. Through professional inquiry teachers become reflective practitioners  since each individual identifies questions and challenges that they are currently facing in their practice.
2.  Our role in leading professional inquiry has shifted to that of facilitator and co-learner.  It reduces the expectation that we have all the right answers.
3.  Professional inquiry is framed in a context of “All ideas (and practices) are improvable”.  This supports the notion that teacher learning never ends.
4.  Group knowledge building practices that are essential to authentic inquiry, demonstrate that overall, the best learning is collaborative.  We bring together groups of educators who share professional values ready to engage in powerful collaborative knowledge building.  This experiencing of community and the reinforcement that results are important elements that enable change.

Our facilitating of professional inquiry has been overwhelmingly positive in supporting colleagues who attend to learn about authentic student inquiry.  We draw on both the experiences and the sometimes more valuable insightful questions that each person shares. Unanticipated but vital elements of teaching and learning are uncovered that would not arise in a traditional top down PD approach.  These have included why we need to de-privatize teaching practice and how to address elements of professional fear that block learning and change.

In moving from presenting on inquiry learning to inquiring and exploring how it works we move from traditional teaching to transformative learning.  Through this experience  teachers are better able to shape the inquiries of their students. There is always a healthy element of risk involved. In each institute we don’t know exactly where we are going to go but we have great confidence that it will be the right path for those in the room because we take our cues from their questions and professional challenges.

Taking the challenge to walk the talk has reinvigorated my practice.  It has helped to better align it with the overriding goals of enhancing our civil and democratic society through the work we do by creating meaningful learning experiences with and for our students.

Stan Kozak is a Learning Innovation Consultant with LSF ( ) and co-author of Connecting the Dots: Key Strategies that Transform Learning. He can be reached at

Upcoming Institutes
employing Professional Inquiry Methodology

March 17/18 Calgary, Alberta                                           
–Making Authentic Inquiry Work
April 16/17 University of Waterloo, Ontario                  
–Making Authentic Inquiry Work
May TBA, York University, Ontario                 
-Implementing Authentic Inquiry: School Administrators and Teachers Making Change

Summer Institute dates forthcoming
For registration and further information on these events please visit :
#NCawards on Twitter
Edward Burtynsky Award
for Teaching Excellence
in Environmental Education

This Award was created in order to recognize and celebrate outstanding elementary school teachers in the province of Ontario who, through their exemplary teaching methods, create learning opportunities that inspire students to become environmentally conscious, responsible world citizens who take sustainable action that protects and restores the environment, thereby creating hope for future generations.
David Suzuki
Fellowship Award 

In recognition of excellence
in pre-service Environmental Education

The Laboratory School at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study would like to honour two promising teacher candidates graduating in 2015 from an accredited Ontario Faculty of Education program.

Natural Curiosity is excited to introduce a new online application for all awards.

Apply today with ease for either Suzuki & Burtynsky awards!
Natural Curiosity: Building Children's Understanding of the World Through Environmental Inquiry
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