When Teachers Thrive, Students Thrive: Creating the Professional Learning System that Makes the Difference—Part 3.2: Collaborative Inquiry

June 20, 2024

By: Lee Kappes, Ed.D, Chief Executive Officer at the Danielson Group

As the school year winds down, and we complete our professional learning blog series, the Danielson Group team wants to dig a bit deeper into the benefits of Collaborative Inquiry and how it can continue to support educators and their school communities during the summer months. Elevating the value and worth of the contributions of the entire school community through opportunities for reflective practice and collaborative inquiry is a key reason why the Framework for Teaching (FFT) exists.

PLCs and Collaborative Inquiry

Meaningful and purposeful Reflective Practice and Collaborative Inquiry in our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) can expand positive outcomes in teacher practice. School leaders and teachers can then ensure more impactful instruction that empowers students in the coming school year. As a growth-focused tool, the FFT can support school leaders, coaches, and teachers in identifying critical practices and activities that empower students and increase their success. Engaging in a Cycle of Inquiry within professional learning communities is a necessary and timely first step during summer professional learning. Using dialogue, collaboration, and reflection, PLCs can effectively engage in this work together to set a vision and goal for personal practice and schoolwide growth. As we’ve stated before: planning and preparation and professional learning is always enhanced by collaboration with colleagues.

Leveraging The Cycle of Inquiry For Professional Growth

Using an inquiry-based approach when engaging in professional learning communities provides opportunities to explore collective and individual strengths and areas of growth. A PLC is a collective endeavor that allows teachers to engage in collaborative conversations to generate new ideas and enhance learning. Research tells us that in order to be effective, professional development should be ongoing, sustained over time, and promote active learning. PLCs provide the structure for teachers to learn collaboratively with colleagues, reflect on their practice, and through that process, have a positive impact on student learning and success.

Creating an Effective Professional Learning Environment: A Step-by-Step Guide

This course is designed for teachers and school leaders who are interested in learning how to implement and sustain high-functioning Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) that are aligned to a vision of instructional excellence. This course not only discusses the mechanics of effective PLCs by leading participants through a step-by-step process that can be tailored to their own context, but it also pushes them to reflect on how PLCs are situated within a greater Professional Learning System and a culture that supports it.

This summer, the DG is dedicated to providing continued support for your learning that will positively impact students moving forward. To make the most of our work together, this process begins with the collaboration among leaders and teachers in your individual communities. It lays the foundation for collaborative learning and success for educators and students. In the weeks and months ahead, we encourage you to look back at this blog series on the three spheres of influence (reflective practice, instructional coaching, and collaborative inquiry) to promote inquiry, innovation, dignity, and joy in your own learning experiences and environments.