Envisioning Innovation in Education
About the Inquire Stage
Innovation relies on curiosity and inquiry.
After engaging with PZ frameworks and gaining new ideas for enhancement in Year 1, participants identified opportunities for experimentation in Year 2 to address their inquiry focus questions (IFQs). Many inquiry foci aligned with school plans and direction (e.g. promoting self-directed learning, student agency, etc.). Participants pursued their curiosities by engaging in iterative inquiry cycles: What did you do? What did it look like? What did you learn? What did your students learn? How does this inform your inquiry? What will you do next?
Inquiry strategies (including documentation, slow looking, looking at student work and reflective practice) were introduced to support participants engaging in the inquiry process. Inquiry strategies are methods of learning which enable individuals to collect data that addresses their IFQs. These strategies and tools assist educators to conduct experimentations and collect documentation for learning and inquiry.
Milestones in the Inquire Stage
As a milestone of the Inquire Stage, each participant produced a physical Exhibition Board that captured their ongoing IFQ work, lessons learned, and puzzles for other EIE participants to give feedback on. Participants were energized by this process of reviewing their own and others’ works-in-progress, and exchanging insights and puzzles with others at a Learning Community event, which motivated them to continue experimenting and inquiring with different strategies.
At the end of Year 2, participants created individual Learning Journey Maps showing how their path looked like in the past two years of EIE, and the moments of inspiration, milestones, struggles, fork in the road and turning points experienced so far. By taking stock of their learnings, participants carry forward with them a backpack of tools and experiences gained from the Envision & Inquire Stages into Year 3 for innovation.
What the Inquire Stage Looked Like
Participants experienced new ideas and concepts through 2 key structures, with a theme on Inquiry Strategies to support participants’ inquiry work:
1) Study Group Sessions
In order to support the inquiry process of participants, Inquiry Strategies (including reflective practice, documentation, slow looking, and looking at student work) were introduced:
Documentation is not just a beautiful end product, instead of solely reviewing the learning outcome, we should also scrutinise the process of learning. Documentation is various types of artifacts (e.g. photos, videos, reflective journals, etc.) capturing the moment of learning of learners and educators. This practice encourages us to observe, record, Interpret and share the story of learning.
Slow Looking suggests we pay attention to details, and look slowly and carefully, in order to consider multiple perspectives and unpack the complexity of things.
Looking At Student Work protocol enables us to better understand “what have our students learned” by focusing on looking for evidence of students’ thinking, and listening to multiple voices (for example colleagues and students) in order to unpack our assumptions.
Reflective Practice consists of 3 simple questions: “Who am I?”; “Who are my students?”; “What is my context?”. It supports us to reflect on our perspectives, lens and values in seeing the world.
2) Learning Community (LC) Events
At LC events, PZ engaged participants in activities related to Inquiry strategies. By experiencing the concepts firsthand, participants are able to better consider how to apply ideas into practice to address their inquiry focus questions (IFQs).
At the start of the Inquire Stage, PZ led participants into a deep dive on the concept of Documentation. In small mixed-school groups, participants acted as learners and documenters to observe, record, interpret and share their moments of onsite learning. Each participant also brought an artifact that represented their classroom/school, or journey as an educator. This sparked conversations on their motivation for innovation in education, and values that they hold dear to their hearts.
At another LC event, participants experienced the power of Slow Looking through an experiential activity and learnt how this approach serves as an inquiry strategy for innovation. They were probed to slowly observe an artwork containing elements of Hong Kong, starting from describing in detail what they saw, then extending their thinking to interpretations of their observations. Afterwards, participants made connections between the artwork, their personal lives, and to society. This slow looking activity was designed based on the thinking routine, “See, Think, Me, We”. The tool’s purpose is to help learners draw connections between a piece of art to themselves and the wider community.
At the following LC event, participants explored a piece of student work together following the Looking at Student Work (LASW) protocol. Practitioner Specialists from Project Zero (PZ) facilitated participants through the steps: Description, Associations, Speculations, Presenting Teacher Sharing Insights, Implications and Reflections. Through the activity, participants have the chance to listen to the voices of colleagues from different backgrounds, as well as carefully pay attention to areas in the student work that we might overlook. In this view, we were able to surface students’ interests, strengths and struggles together, by bringing in multiple perspectives from the discussion with colleagues.
Reflective Practice is an essential strategy in the project supporting educators to be conscious of their identities and values, as well as its influences on daily practices in school and vision of the education field. Reviewing three simple questions, “Who am I?”, “Who are my students?” and “What is my context?”, makes us sensitive to our values, our students’ thinking and our working context. To visualise our reflections, participants were engaged in an activity to create personalised sunglasses that best represent themselves using a variety of craft materials. Through the process of creation and sharing, participants were able to reconsider how various aspects of our identities inform our lenses on teaching and learning, as well as how similar and different we are in seeing the world.
Besides practicing Inquiry Strategies, embracing systems thinking and considering the process and approach to solutions are essential to promoting innovation in education. When we are faced with a problem, we often tend to jump to a solution without having carefully considered the different approaches to enhance the situation. Through a scenario-based activity, participants were encouraged to address the scenario starting by exploring the complexities of the systems, carefully considering Parts, People, Interactions of the scenario and hearing the voices of colleagues. It allows us to identify different approaches to innovation and listen to various voices before making decisions, as a result, we could have a better chance to arrive at the most appropriate outcome.
In addition, Learning Community events also acted as a platform to share and celebrate learning. Participants worked on accumulative exhibition boards to display their inquiry process work, as well as share with their colleagues for comment and feedback. In the last learning community event in Year 2, they also worked on individual learning journey maps reviewing what has happened in the past year, what was powerful in supporting their inquiry, and what’s the key takeaway and learning. There were also chances for participants to articulate and share their excitements, wonders, needs and strategies moving forward.