The inquiry process: tips for teacher mentors

11 NOVEMBER 2019

Over the course of the 2019 Effective Mentoring Programs, the Professional Practice team sought feedback from mentors on how to effectively navigate each stage of the inquiry process. Their feedback provides the following handy checklist for prospective mentors.

1. Content and context for learning

  1. establish a relationship with your mentee
  2. establish a purpose to your relationship
  3. make sure that you explain the process and ensure all parties (mentee, mentor and workplace) are ready to undertake the process of inquiry
  4. have a clear discussion regarding the expectations for all parties
  5. work out the timing and logistics of the process well ahead of time and let anyone involved in the organisation know.

Questions to ask

  • What do you know about the process?
  • What fears, concerns or dilemmas do they have about the process?
  • Are you confident that you are addressing the standards at the proficient level?
  • What are the needs of your learners? How do you know?

show more

2. Define question for inquiry and undertake professional learning

  1. identify relevant data sets that support the mentee's thinking about the needs of their learners
  2. identify any priority of the school or early childhood service that may be a feature of professional learning across the year
  3. identify professional learning that is appropriate with timeframes
  4. unpack the SMART strategy.

Questions to ask

  • What does your data tell you about your learners’ needs?
  • What professional learning do you need to understand the area better?
  • What do you think you can do?
  • How do you think this will impact the learners?
  • What makes you think this?
  • Have you applied the SMART test?

show more

3. Apply knowledge to teaching practice through action plan

  1. ask open-ended questions about the action plan
  2. check that the mentee is covering all the standards
  3. check for inclusive education (particularly evidence of 1.4,1.6 and 2.4)
  4. ensure they have deliberate and measurable evidence of impact
  5. make sure they have their observations scheduled; talk to them about their formative assessment opportunities and how they can shape the progress of the inquiry.

Questions to ask

  • Is your inquiry question relevant to your data?
  • What is the overall goal / purpose of your topic?
  • Can you tell me about the resources that you are going to use?
  • What have you observed / gained from watching practice?
  • Have you considered using any data collection tools?
  • What strategies do you plan to use?
  • What difficulties do you foresee during the process and how do you plan to overcome them?

show more

4. Implement action plan

  1. know the timeframe and step out the requirements within your planned focus
  2. ensure all of the compulsory elements have been accounted for - professional conversations and observations
  3. encourage your mentee to discuss their progress at regular intervals, especially focusing upon formative assessments
  4. ensure the mentee is collecting relevant data and artefacts of learning
  5. use data tools to provide feedback to your mentee and encourage them to analyse their progress for themselves.

Questions to ask

  • Are you able to meet all the standards with your inquiry?
  • What are your formative assessments telling you about the progress of the inquiry?
  • Has there been any unexpected learning from the process so far? 
  • Have you completed the compulsory aspects of the inquiry?

show more

5. Evaluate effectiveness of practice - assess and reflect

  1. look over previous reflections during the formative assessment phase and discuss any changes as a result
  2. analyse the data and pinpoint what it reveals about the impact of the inquiry upon the focus
  3. organise the panel and ensure the mentee understands the panel process in your workplace
  4. discuss how the learning from the process can be shared with other teachers as a celebration of the learning.

Questions to ask

  • Have the learners achieved the targeted learning outcomes? How do you know?
  • What worked well? What would you improve for next time?
  • What additional learning came out of the process for you?
  • What evidence and samples do you have to illustrate your practice?
  • Has your practice changed as a result of the process? Why?
  • What will you take forward into your future teaching from this process?
  • What is your next level of work with this group of learners?

show more