For our second year, a team of Richmond educators who have visited the Opal school in Portland, Oregon, have facilitated a professional learning series called Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry. Blog posts about our first two dinner sessions this year can be found here and here.
Our third and final dinner session of the year was held on April 21 at Diefenbaker Elementary. Educators were greeted in the library with several provocations prepared by our playful inquiry mentors that focused on connections to the natural world and the use of art materials and visual tools. The following question was displayed to provoke thinking and engagement with the materials:
During and after engagement with the materials, we asked educators to share what they noticed about the affordances of different materials and what connections they were making to our redesigned BC curriculum.
Some teachers had been invited to share what they have been working on with their students since our last session in January. Christy and Jo of Cook shared their students storytelling experience connected to the First Peoples Principles of Learning and their study of residential schools. Jaclyn Cruz shared how she has been using morning literacy provocations and how she extended students’ storying with materials to think about “cover stories” inspired by book covers. Melissa Vervegaert has visited the Opal School the week before so she shared some of her experiences, specifically noting how the teachers and students accessed and used and were inspired by art materials.
After a lovely dinner together, we came together in our different mentor groups – intermediate, primary, kindergarten, mathematics, outdoor learning, non-enrolling (teacher-librarians and learning resource teachers) and engaged in discussions and sharing facilitated by our playful inquiry mentors.
This has been such a powerful series for teachers in our district and we have grown a community of teachers committed to playful inquiry in our K-7 classrooms. The following are some of the reflections from educators in the series:
What did this series offer you as an educator?
A chance to listen to others and hear their ideas – knowing that we are on a path together.
We can all try strategies in our classes but we truly gain a deeper shared understanding through engaging conversations.
It was a great opportunity to hear about what other teachers are doing in their classrooms and how they are taking risks and opening the door for their students to explore.
An understanding of the power of using materials to scaffold thinking, build stories, develop relationships and self-awareness.
A way to connect with others in the district and the inspiration I left with each time – what an amazing experience!
What will you take from your experience in this series that will endure in your teaching practice?
From this experience, I will take with me a different approach to my teaching in all aspects – my outlook, my word choices, how I view my students, how I tackle “subjects” and so much more!
That I need to connect and talk with like-minded colleagues. Sharing circles, provocations, playing with a purpose.
Creating an environment that supports deep thinking, community building and communication.
Use of materials in many different ways. Arranging the classroom environment to better support student engagement.
Inquiry happens naturally – honour the curiousity.
Risk taking…the courage to let go and make small but significant changes.
Wow. Rich professional learning.
We have a team of 16 Richmond educators visiting the Opal School in Portland for a summer symposium in June. Our playful inquiry community continues to grow and we look forward to continuing this series next year!