I have written inquiry proposals, and I have helped teachers write inquiry proposals. It is not always easy to get the question approved. However, the approval part of the process is important, because it gives hope to the inquiry ideas continuing on long after the “formal” process is completed—and that is, of course, the idea. The question must be an invitation to further learning and development for the teachers. And it is for this reason that inquiry has, in some ways, the most bang for the buck.
But there are so many other reasons inquiry is good for a teachers and school. It is the teachers that have identified a question that is unique to or focused for their school, or some of the learners in their school. This ownership provides a strong investment and desire to learn and get somewhere meaningful. “Somewhere meaningful” seems vague but this is also the nature of inquiry. You cannot have too many preconceptions of where you will end up or the process is somewhat defeated before it begins. As I said, composing the question is difficult, but websites like this one, from McMaster University, are indispensable when working on this.
In her book, Teacher Collaboration for Professional Learning, Cynthia Lessonde writes that “silence can be shattered when we are brave enough to share our questions with colleagues and have conversations that fill us with energy” (4). She encapsulates in this line our hesitations to collaborate as teachers, but also reasons we go ahead and do so. (I recognize that not all of us hesitate to share our thoughts.) Her book goes on to outline, in detail, how to work through the inquiry process, but it also spends the first chapter explaining why that process is so very beneficial for us.
My English department worked on an inquiry a few years ago. We were trying to determine how students perceived the relationship between writing modes, grades and writing ability. We composed the survey, implemented it, collated the results and then tried to glean some direction for future pedagogy. Apart from collating the data, every aspect of the process was illuminating for the teachers involved. It certainly shaped aspects of my pedagogy and still shapes it as I think about the new curriculum for English. I know the other two teacher involved had similar experiences; we still refer back to that work—very often!
Lassonde, Cynthia A. Teacher Collaboration for Professional Learning : Facilitating Study, Research, and Inquiry Communities. Jossey-Bass, 2010. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.