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  • Writer's pictureallisonjolester

Sprinting Through Education: The Practitioner Inquiry Sprint Way

Hello there! Grab your coffee, settle in, and prepare to journey into the fabulous world of practitioner inquiry sprints. Trust me, it's as exhilarating as it sounds.

You might be wondering, "What's a sprint got to do with my job as an educator?" We aren't gearing up for a race around the schoolyard. Well, unless it's a race towards continuous learning and constant improvement - then you bet we are!

First things first, let's nail down what I mean by a 'sprint'. In a world that feels more like a marathon (are we at the finish line yet?), a sprint is a rapid cycle of developing, testing, and revising our classroom practices. It emphasizes process over product, is inherently iterative and cyclical, and celebrates small, incremental improvements over time. So, you can see, it's not about the gold medal but the journey to get there.

Getting started is easy. You pick a challenge in your classroom, devise a new approach or strategy, put it into practice, and then reflect on the results. It's about learning as you go and being open to adjustments. Sounds like a fun-filled rollercoaster ride of pedagogical discovery, doesn't it?

Alright, let's dive into the deep end with an example. Meet Ms. Patricia, a lively English literature teacher. Our case study heroine decided to sprint her way to improve how she poses questions to her learners. The aim? To encourage deeper discussions by exploring her own language and using more open-ended questions.

She noted her existing style of questioning mostly elicited simple, factual answers - there was no room for students to express their unique thoughts or interpretations. Her sprint goal was set: To foster richer conversations that go beyond "What happened?" and lean more towards "Why do you think it happened this way?"

Ms. Patricia started with a little bit of reading on the art of open-ended questioning. She devised a plan to consciously change her phrasing. "When does Macbeth first meet the witches?" transformed into "Why do you think Shakespeare chose to introduce the witches to Macbeth at that specific point in the play?"

Then came the most thrilling part of the sprint - putting the plan into action! In each class, Ms. Patricia made a point of using her newfound questioning style. It was awkward at first - like trying to salsa dance when you've only ever waltzed - but each class brought more confidence, and slowly, she began to see a shift in the classroom discussions.

She noted that students were no longer just regurgitating facts; they were engaging in thoughtful analysis, debating interpretations, and even - gasp! - beginning to enjoy these discussions.

But the sprint wasn't over. Reflection is an essential part of the process. Ms. Patricia found that some questions worked better than others, and not all discussions took off as she hoped. She realized that her sprint wasn't a one-and-done deal. It was a cycle - plan, act, observe, reflect, and repeat.

So she revised her strategy, took her new learnings on board, and tweaked her questioning technique. The next round was even better. And the round after that? Better still.

So there you have it, a whirlwind tour of the practitioner inquiry sprint. Just remember: process over product, small improvements over time, and an approach that’s iterative and cyclical. It's like the most intellectually satisfying merry-go-round you've ever been on.

Sure, sprints may sound daunting, but remember - no one is expecting you to break a world record on your first go. The point is to learn, grow, and refine. And if you stumble and fall? That's fine too. Just pick yourself up, dust off those teaching pants, and keep on sprinting.

Ready? Set? Sprint!

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