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Teacher Inquiry at EPCS

At the Eliot-Pearson Children's School, school wide inquiry (SWI) is a collaborative form of investigation into the processes of teaching and learning. Our SWI is a form of professional development that informs our classroom practice, and builds community through a shared focus and shared inquiry. The framework for our inquiry is grounded in documentation principles inspired from the Reggio Emilia Schools and the Making Learning Visible work of Project Zero at Harvard University, collaborative action research models, and the communities of practice literature. We work collaboratively to develop a model of teacher inquiry that serves to invite and support the learning of the myriad of stakeholders, including children, teachers, parents, undergraduate and graduate students, and child study and human development faculty.

Our SWI has several goals:

  • Provide meaningful professional development for all teachers (including undergraduate and graduate teaching assistants)
  • Create communities of learners through deeper collaboration among children and adults
  • Inform and improve classroom practice
  • Make public our work through documentation and other forms of dissemination
  • Build a collective body of knowledge that reflects our school culture and philosophy.
  • Connect and contribute to the larger ECE field
  • Develop research-practice-integration partnerships with faculty in Child Study and Human Development

Current and Past School Wide Inquiry (SWI) Projects

2012-2014: SWI focus on Dual Language Learners. The school is working with consultants on examining best practices for dual language learners. Staff meetings are organized as CFG (Critical Friends Groups) where teaching teams bring classroom dilemmas and questions to receive feedback from their colleagues using protocols to structure the conversations

2010-2012: SWI focus is on antibias education. The school is working on a current project with Louise Derman-Sparks, author of Antibias Education for Young Children and Ourselves (2010, NAEYC.) Project Goal: To make visible the thoughts, feelings, and actions of a learning community that is actively engaged in implementing an anti-bias/inclusive approach to educating young children. (ABE as a stance.)

2008-2010: SWI focus is on self-regulation. The SWI developed research questions, generated a working definition of self-regulation, described children's self-regulatory behaviors within the context of sociodramatic play and in other contexts of the classroom, and looked at how teachers support children in developing self-regulation skills.

The process for our current SWI involves using a structure adapted from the School Reform Initiative Critical Friends Group (CFG) Protocols. Staff are being trained in the skill of selecting and utilizing specific protocols, as a means to structure and facilitate professional dialogue. When properly used protocols serve to focus and maximize a group's professional discourse, as teachers present real dilemmas and questions from their classroom practice.

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