Teaching as inquiry: Understandings and challenges towards a professional way of being
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Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/1828
New Zealand educators are increasingly using inquiry based approaches as a solution to contextual challenges in their organisation. Inquiry is often understood as a cycle of learning, a process for investigating current evidence, assumptions, and practices to inform changes in professional practice to take action; action to raise student outcomes. However, with the inclusion of the teaching as inquiry model in the New Zealand Curriculum and embedded in the Registered Teachers’ Criteria, there is a move for teachers to engage in inquiry at a deeper level; as a professional way of being. For educators to accept an inquiry stance requires a change in mind set of the way that teachers’ view their professional activity. A qualitative methodology was employed for this research that was conducted in two phases. In phase one documentary analysis was undertaken to provide a contextual background on the expectations from official sources on the leadership activity that may promote teaching as inquiry, a culture of inquiry and the notion of schools as learning organisations. Concurrently, a purposive questionnaire provided base-line data of the prevalence of teaching as inquiry across a small geographical area within Auckland. A small scale multiple case study was undertaken in phase two, where ten semi-structured interviews took place across three research locations with school leaders and teachers to examine the understandings, practices and challenges for implementing teaching as inquiry. The findings from this study revealed that teaching as inquiry is a tool for implementing change within schools and managing change is challenging for school leaders and teachers. The findings also exposed that the school context largely determined the extent to which teaching as inquiry was understood and practiced by staff. This study highlights the need for school leaders and teachers to adopt inquiry as a professional way of being within their organisation. Emphasis is placed on the leadership activity that continually promotes the cultural conditions in which teaching as inquiry can occur so that there are improved outcomes for students, teachers and the school as a learning organisation.