The process of inquiry can seem “undefinable” at times, however, through the process of documentation, it becomes clearer and more tangible – for students, teachers, and parents.
Earlier this month as part of an Action Research project, we proposed to compile a comprehensive video that effectively identified who we are at the Calgary Science School, what we do, how we do it and why. Our schools Exemplary Learning and Teaching Frameworks were carefully woven throughout the video. Footage from all grades and subject areas served as visual representation of who we are, what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. We were able to make use of the numerous resources compiled by Neil Stephenson, Erin Couillard and others via the school’s Connect blog, as well as some of our own artifacts and more recent interviews. Testimonials from staff, students, parents and visitors to our school were integrated with snippets from current research in the education field. The goal was to use student, parent and teacher voice to describe the work we do and to attempt to articulate what is most powerful about teaching and learning at CSS.
Through exploration and compilation of these resources we have learned a tremendous amount about the many ways in which exemplary teaching and learning are manifest in our school community. We have discovered that meaningful pedagogical practice results from exploration and opportunity for students, teachers and administrators alike. We have learned that making practice public, being willing to share our ideas, resources and strengths and putting them out there for others to discuss or build off of has tremendous potential for accelerated professional development. Through attempting to develop a compelling overview of our school’s story from the perspective of our stakeholders, we learned that reflection and ‘re-writing’ are powerful ways to deepen pedagogical understanding. Selecting and editing the pieces we put into the video lead to important conversations about what is valuable in teaching and learning. Reflection and the resulting conversation have facilitated the important work of taking the time to slow down, concentrate and remember valuable experiences and understandings, helping us determine next steps in our practice and identify how to continue to enrich learning for all of our students.
The final 15 minute compilation video was successfully shared with Alberta Education on October 15, 2012 and with our Board of Directors and Administrative team. By sharing this work with a more global community, we are hopeful that it might continue to serve as evidence of the value of teaching using inquiry and that it will contribute to thoughtful conversation about the future of education.