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  • Writer's pictureLidia

Beginning your Inquiry Journey!

Updated: Oct 29, 2022

When I was in teachers college at OISE, I had the opportunity to visit The Dr. Eric Jackman Insitute of Child Study, a laboratory school, with one of my professors. We were in downtown Toronto on campus and we went on a "nature walk" as a class to the Laboratory School, it was raining, cold and I was miserable. When we arrived we entered a school that looked more like a house. It had creaking floors, dim lights and very old architectural features. I remember thinking it was a weird place to have a school. At the time, as a university student, I did not appreciate the experience because I was tired, annoyed, and dreading the walk back to campus. Before we left we were all given a copy of a brown book, I put it in my school bag, took it home and shoved it in my desk.


During my first year of teaching, I was at home cleaning out my desk, (trying to trick myself into becoming a productive, desk using teacher, 7 years later....it never happened) and I stumbled across this book again. I picked it up and began skimming the pages, becoming instantly intrigued. The learning and teaching methods used at The Insitute of Child study was exactly what I wanted to do as a teacher, I just didn't realize it at the time I was given the book. It wasn't until the end of my 2nd year of teaching that I really began to value and understand the implementation of inquiry and I quickly remembered that this wasn't something new to me in my teaching career.


When my interest in inquiry began I wish there was some kind of planner or goal setter that would have helped me jump start the inquiry journey. Something to help me plan.

When you embark on this journey there are 4 things you need to become comfortable with as an educator... exploring, experimenting, engaging and reflecting.


In order to be an effective Inquiry teacher, you need to participate in these four points on your own and really take a look at your teaching philosophy. This is why I've created the "My Inquiry Goals" document to help you as you begin exploring what inquiry can look like for you.


This is a great starting point for educators who are interested in inquiry but are not sure if it is the move for them. There will be more information on this at the end of my post, but for now, I want to share some more important moments from the beginning of my journey that you should consider looking into.


Natural Curiosity: A Resource for Teachers:

Natural Curiosity was the first exposure that I had to Inquiry (specifically Environmental Inquiry). This resource is what really jump-started my passion for all things inquiry and the importance of Outdoor education as well as Global Stewardship. This is the First Edition of this resource, I am pretty sure you can't even get your hands on a physical copy anymore but I have linked the .pdf version.


I would recommend taking a look at the FREE first edition to begin, but should mention that this resource now has a second edition titled "Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition: A Resource for Educators The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children’s Environmental Inquiry" which is great for educators looking to incorporate Indigenous Perspectives in their teaching.


My inquiry journey began slowly, as I have mentioned before, it wasn't something that any of the teachers I was working with were doing (other than my Kindergarten teacher friend). I had to do a lot of research on my own and at the time, it wasn't easy to come across helpful resources.


A lot of research and trial and error later:


Fast forward 3 years, I was in my 5th year of teaching, at a new school, with an administrator that has the same teaching philosophy as me. I was in the place I wanted to be, at a new school with one-to-one technology and with the plan to implement inquiry-based learning from kindergarten to grade 8. The literal dream. This is when my inquiry journey really took off. During the first year at my current school, we visited the Laboratory school again, I did some more reading, spoke to more educators and got so many more ideas. Inquiry in my classroom was very basic but through personal exploring, engaging, experimenting and reflecting throughout the whole year, I became more confident and competent in my abilities to implement inquiry effectively.


Where do I start my inquiry journey?

One of the biggest things to remember as an educator who is trying something new is to move slowly but also fully commit and JUMP RIGHT IN. Inquiry doesn't work and can turn into themed or research-based projects if you as the teacher do not fully commit to this method of teaching.


Due to the fact that there are various types of student inquiry, inquiry looks different for everyone. The image to the right is from Dive into Inquiry

written by Trevor MacKenzine. It shows the different stages of inquiry and a brief outline of what each stage looks like. The idea is to move from Structured to Free Inquiry with your students, but it is totally ok for you to stay in the Structured and Controlled portion of the pool if that is what you feel most comfortable with. That is where I stayed during my first year of exploring inquiry with my students and now throughout the school year my students move from Structured to Free inquiry.

Take baby steps, but don't get discouraged, keep moving forward.


It is not realistic to think you are going to begin at FREE INQUIRY with your students, which is often what teachers think they need to be doing.

Remember, SLOW AND STEADY, BUT FULLY COMMITTED.


Plan your journey and be realistic with your goals:


What I hope to help teachers with when it comes to their inquiry journey is to fully understand and reflect on what inquiry means to them and what they hope to get out of inquiry. It is not a one size fits all type of teaching and understanding that is the first step to implementing it with your students. As always, I recommend doing your research, reading blogs, books, articles and watching videos on inquiry but sometimes we need somewhere to start.

This is the reason why I created the "My Inquiry Goals" document for you. The hope with this is to get you in the inquiry mindset as you prepare to embark on your first inquiry with your students.

This package takes you through some self-reflection as a teacher to get you into the inquiry mindset and to see if inquiry is really for you and your students.


From discussing your TEACHING PHILOSOPHY to PLANNING STUDENT GOALS to EXPLORING SKILLS vs. STRATEGIES, this document will help you jump start your inquiry journey. If you are subscribed to my mailing list you will be receiving this product for FREE to the email you provided when you signed up. If you are not on my email list, this product is available for download on my TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS store.


As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions. Leave a comment below, email me at lidia@theartofinquiry.ca or send me a DM on


- Lidia


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