P1: Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction. In my opinion, this standard has to do with reversing the top-down teacher to student relationship. Instead of assuming we know what students need, even if those assumptions are well-informed, intentional inquiry suggests that we employ student voice when planning for instruction. This can be done in a variety of different ways, but during my internship, I used entrance and exit tickets as ways to encourage students to initiate prior learning, reflect, and self-assess, as well as to inform my lesson planning. I would ask students to weigh in on strategies and activities that worked well for them, specific ways in which lesson clarified their understanding, ways in which they were still confused, and specific content areas or skills in which students felt they still needed support or clarification. For example, after concluding the reading of the novel, The Things They Carried, my junior classes were to complete an essay as their final writing assessment of the year. BHS and these classes in particular, heavily emphasize the development of writing skills through practice, so my students had already written multiple essays in response to various texts studied throughout the year. These students are very familiar with the essay writing process now, and are growing more confident in their ability to develop, organize and present their own ideas. As is her habit, my mentor teacher handed back the previous essay the students had written the day before they were to begin crafting their final essay for the year. As an exit ticket for the day, I had students evaluate their essays by identifying two areas of strength and two areas of weakness or areas they needed additional support before writing their last essay.
This intentional inquiry not only provided students with an opportunity for reflection and self-assessment, but also provided me the opportunity to tailor and differentiate instruction, so as to support the unique needs of the students in each class. Not only did students receive specific support, but also, they felt they had agency in their education and were actively engaged during my support lessons because they recognized that I trusted their self-assessments, I listened and responded, and when given the opportunity, they wanted to improve. Intentional inquiry allows educators to make learner-centered decisions about how best to tailor and differentiate instruction. According to Models of Teaching by Bruce Joyce, Marsha Weil, and Emily Calhoun, research suggests that “inquiry-oriented curriculums appear to stimulate growth in other; apparently unconnected areas” (2009, pg. 88). Intentional inquiry not only initiates prior learning and encourages the making of new connections through reflection and critical thinking, but also invites students to be more actively engaged in their own learning. When students participate as active members of the discovery process, they are more likely to remember the information taught and apply critical thinking skills in the future, which are key reasons that I will continue to use intentional inquiry as a means of providing purposefully designed lessons and activities.