Developing an Inquiry Stance Toward Teaching

Beverly Falk
The City College of New York

Beverly Falk

This website was developed by Beverly Falk as part of the Goldman-Carnegie Quest Project, and can be accessed at the following URL:

Enter Site

(this link was valid on 9/20/06)

The challenge I explore in this website is how to help teacher learners understand that teaching is problematic rather than a given, that inquiry is part of everyday practice.

The challenges of teaching, especially teaching in the unpredictable environments of urban schools, call on teachers to be problem posers and solvers, to think and act critically, and to be able to articulate their beliefs and actions to other colleagues, administrators, families, and the public.

To prepare for this hard work, my teacher preparation program tries to help our teacher candidates learn to apply a common set of inquiry stances and skills to the unanswered questions and problems that inevitably arise in schools. We thus infuse inquiry experiences throughout our program and require a two-semester inquiry course as a culminating experience that provides teacher learners with an opportunity to generate and explore personally meaningful questions about their practice. It is our belief that by experiencing first-hand the messy, non-linear, often confusing nature of the learning process, this exploration will help teacher learners synthesize the content, pedagogical, and dispositional knowledge that they have learned throughout the program and apply it to the ongoing dilemmas of their daily lives.

As they learn how to collect evidence, analyze it, and subsequently use data from their practice to inform their thinking and their teaching, it is our hope that the process of asking and pursuing generative questions will become a habit they will carry with them long after completing their teacher preparation. By engaging in the iterative cycle of questions - questions lead to other questions and evolve as the pursuit of them unfolds - we want teacher learners to not only gain competence and confidence in their skills, but also to learn how to articulate what they know, and to translate their understanding of powerful learning experiences to the experiences they structure for their students.