The Collaborative Inquiry Continuum.... Supporting Conditions

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Bob Jackson's post reminded me of the importance of really understanding the nature of the work of learning teams, the way they are structured and the outcomes that can be expected. As a newly appointed Principal several years ago I wasted no time in convincing staff and the school community of the merits of team work and established what I saw as highly effective collaborative planning teams based around grades and faculties(subject departments). I thought, rather naively in hindsight, that just by establishing teams was enough. I now know better. Wheel of Priority

Working in teams is not a natural way for teachers to work, they are much more used to "doing their own thing" within guidelines provided by schools and systems. Many teachers value their" privacy if practice" and see any form of structured collaboration or team meetings as at best a good social experience and at worst just a plain waste of time.

It is not good enough just to form teams and tell people to collaborate. Collaboration

This lead to the first articulation of a document which attempted to scope out the way in which teachers would work in the school. This document " The Way we Work" is attached for your information.

It wasn't until several years after this first document was produced that we really began to come to grips with what it meant to work collaboratively in an inquiry based framework. We were asking questions about structure, facilitation, structural and cultural alignment and the support necessary from all staff, school leadership, students and the wider community if we were to really reap the benefits of team work. During a visit to Ontario in 2012 I was delighted to find that much work had been done their on scoping out the work of learning teams. Under the heading: "When meeting as a learning team, our work together is focused on student learning needs...." a rubric had been produced that provided a clear way not just to judge the effectiveness of team work and collaboration but also provided a developmental framework for use in schools. Under the criteria; Is facilitated, Is collaborative, Is aligned and Is supported by leaders the Ministry of Education had articulated a continuous continuum from beginning, through developing to Integrating and finally sustaining for each criteria.

In using this document with Principals it has been rewarding to see their depth of understanding of what needs to happen in schools if collaborative practice is to deliver on its promise of capacity building and professional growth.

All the materials are available at: Collaborative Inquiry Resources from Ontario

I have attached to Collaborative Inquiry Document as an attachment to this post.

Well facilitated collaborative inquiry can make a big difference, especially when teams have a clear sense of vision and moral purpose and are empowered to act.

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