"A teacher's interpretative or conceptual framework is critical in teacher inquiry, for it informs and is formed by the cycles of action research; his or her theory becomes a living theory for practice."

~Whitehead & McNiff, 2006

Action  Research Living Theory

       The ability to ask questions is a powerful tool that leads to my growth as a teacher inquirer.  The sensitivity to what works inside my classroom and what didn't work has the tendency to influence a change in my practice towards what's effective and helpful to the students.  I understand that building towards a habit of critical reflection takes time and commitment.  As Schon (1983) suggests in his notion of reflects-in-action, teachers interactively use means and ends to frame a problematic situation that needs to be resolved to regain balance, and Rodgers' (2002) thoughts on reflection as a meaning-making process that starts with an experience--an event that brought uncertainty and subsequently inquiry to make meaning out of it, critical reflection calls for me to be more cognizant inside my classroom. 
       Last school year, I had the most interesting classroom because of the experiences that majority of the students brought with them.  The issues I had called for serious classroom inquiry which I was able to tackle and bring to the attention of my principal and the board of education.  In leading the literacy team in my school, we were able to see the trend and how this issue translate to our upper grades.  This year much of the attention on creating a curriculum for K-12 that is responsive to the school's cultural identity and religious limitation, while providing continuity of success through the learning continuum, became our focus.  

       These experiences helped me reach the dialectical level of reflective thinking.  The secular nature of the school made me address the moral, ethical, and sociopolitical issues of my teaching practice.  The conversations and dialogues I've had with my students, and the school community as a whole, was approached with political-correctness in mind.  The learning activities I have provided addressed both the students' need for best practice as well as what is socially accepted in their culture.  This juggling of priorities while attaining balance helped me immensely in being critical in my lesson planning.  

       The teacher inquirer is the other active role that I am in at this point in time.  This is predominantly because of the learning community that I am teaching in.  One of the things I hope to initiate this coming school year (2012-2013) is doing a case study per grade level to help our students who are not meeting grade-level expectations in reading and writing.  The ultimate question lies on how we can better help these students move along their learning continuum.  It is my hope that doing a school-wide case-study approach will influence other teachers to think critically of their practice as well to help target their instruction and give the much needed help and guidance these students need.

       Inquiry in the classroom and the school is without a doubt an action we can take to improve learning in general.  I know that it will enrich my classroom if I am able to model this inquiry approach to learning for my students.  I am looking forward to incorporating this in my classroom and finding out its effect to students' learning and ability to think critically.  

~An excerpt from my personal journal...July 9, 2012~

"We had to be willing to interrogate each other, but we particularly had to be willing to interrogate ourselves."

 ~Fecho, 2004

...In hindsight, I continue to ask myself how I could have approached the incident better--one that could have saved David* from comparing himself with Arni*.  If I have reflected more on what was bugging David, and tried to help him sort things out and build his confidence in my class (through both academics and behavior), maybe David wouldn't have walked out from my class that day.

Little things here and there can spark an interest in inquiry! 

 Student spelled permission as permishon

Student used our  instead of are 

4 Thinking Hats = 4 Potential Questions

  •  What reading and writing strategies are most effective in improving the word study skills of our ELL students?
  • How can inquiry base learning be incorporated into my writing instruction?
  • What is the impact of literacy circles to reading comprehension in a gender separated grouping system versus mixed group setting?
  • How can language intonation and inflection affect the listening skills of ELL students?

 ~An excerpt from my personal journal...July 11, 2012~

     I'm not surprised that I'm at the dialectic level of the Reflective Thinking Pyramid simply because last year my experience teaching at my school called for me to be one given its unique environment and cultural orientation.  The religious element of the school necessitated for me to continuously reflect on what was said and what took place in my classroom.  Striking a balance was the main thing that I focused on.  Maintaining a journal would have been very helpful though to have a way of going back to search for supporting details/facts that could help answer some questions I have regarding my practice.

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