A celebration of teacher agency and collaboration with 46 inspiring thinkers, doers, players, designers, and advocates who tell us what’s next for education in 2020 and beyond
The world is at the cusp of a classroom revolution. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. As all of us teach differently, we have also started to learn in new, unique, and innovative ways. To embrace this new reality, we hosted Toddle TIES – The Inquiry Educators Summit – the largest gathering of inquiry focused educators from around the world. Over 2 days, 23 workshops, 7 keynotes, 3 panel discussions, and 19362 participants from 147 countries, TIES defined the evolution of educators – as learners, collaborators, storytellers, researchers, and innovators. Speakers and participants added life, colour, form, and their own personal stories on how it might feel to really learn in an inquiry environment.
Read on to discover the timeless big ideas and insights that emerged from these sessions.
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With Gahmya Drummond-Bey, Maria Hersey, Vishen Lakhiani, Alex Whitaker, and Shruti Thakkar, we investigated the power of leaning in. Whether it be during a time of crisis or otherwise, it is critical to lean in to reach out to the larger educator community, to lean in and listen to our students, to lean in with compassion to our parents, and finally, to lean in and reflect on our own mindsets and practice. From centering to the sound of a chime to doing art virtually, we took away so much more than strategies.
As inquiry educators, all of us know the power of questions in meaning making, transfer, and making thinking visible. Dr. Sugata Mitra, Kevin Bartlett, Edna Sackson, and Melissa Sokol inspired us to ask deep meaningful questions that can help us redesign learning! We challenged conventions of curriculum design, we wondered “what if” learning was liberated, we learned that questions drive action, and we dreamed of rethinking curriculum from the ground up or from the sky down! Initiatives like Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE), Hole in the Wall, The Granny Cloud, Toddle Community, and Designing for a Better World Starts at School, inspired us to take learning beyond our classrooms and into the world.
Breaking Down Walls
Through several “aha” and “haha” moments with Kath Murdoch, Rosan Bosch, Anne Evans, Lynn Cuccaro, and Claudia Ourthe-Cabale, we discussed liberating learners and liberating learning spaces. We learned that play is an essential vehicle for inquiry. We learned that there can never be any excuses to learn playfully in nature because “there is no such thing as bad weather, there is only bad clothing”. We learned that classrooms can be transformed into caves, campfires, mountain tops, and watering holes! Learning is about dreaming and empowering our imagination.
We took our paints and crayons and blurred lines between classrooms, subjects, and schools as we heard Maggie Hos-McGrane, Cindy Blackburn, Alex Whitaker, Baldwin Wu, and Mona Seervai. We echoed “we are all teachers and subject labels should not define us!” As teachers, we are innovators, designers, friends, and facilitators and so much more!
Trevor said it best when he said, “we need to be inquirers. We need to observe learning, recognize curiosity, notice wonderment, and lean into it with full force”. Nicely complimenting this, Dr. Jo Boaler said, “In math, it is essential for students to come up with conjectures — ideas that they are not sure of. Math is about creativity and ideas. Not about right answers and wrong answers”. As educators, we first need to be curious learners who build hypotheses, make mistakes and focus on the “why”. A thread that connected almost every speaker was their focus on Simon Sineck’s Golden Circle. The importance of reflecting on “why” is the foundation for implementing inquiry-based, child-driven, personalized learning that drives positive action.
The future of learning is going to be driven by agentic teachers that ask “what if”, take risks, and implement an inquiry-based learning programme. To conclude this short piece on the timeless learnings from these inspiring educators, here is a short haiku by Kath Murdoch:
Inquiry is easy to say,
Harder to do,
Even harder to be,
But not impossible at all!