When do inquiry teachers let go?

A request arrived this week for permission to use a cartoon I’d created years ago, showing the gradual release of responsibility of model.

As an inquiry teacher, who values learner agency, do you always teach or model first, only letting go when you think they are ready?

Or are students free to have a go, explore, experiment, test theories, formulate ideas… while you observe the learning, allowing your observations to inform when and whom to teach or support and when to step aside?

Do you trust the learners and the learning process?

Update 2019

7 thoughts on “When do inquiry teachers let go?

  1. One of the empowering things about iTime (passion projects) whatever your school calls them is to really give the learner control of the planning- process- completion (if its completed). Teachers might help guide the inquiry, set it up all the while understanding its the process of learning thats at the heart of this exploration time. Teachers gather data along the way about when to let them struggle and when to leave clues when they are stuck. For me the hardest part of this is not to steal the inquiry from the learners. Its so hard not to offer suggestions or even answers to keep them ‘on track’. Its where the uncomfortableness, the frustration is where the learning is taking place.

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  2. I think, maybe, it depends on what is there to teach. Like, if it is well connected to the prior knowledge, teacher can release it in the beginning. But, if there is a lot to learn, if it is complex, or if teacher has group of children who are not used to learn on their own, then teacher has to show and explain in the beginning.
    Transfering responsibility is very hard if you get kids who are not used to it. I sometimes need more than a year to show them how to work on their own, when Math is in question. Computer science depends on the theme, and Informatics and maker-corner activities, I can let go right away.
    I’m not sure about this – what do You think?

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  3. I think it depends. I do both. Sometimes my provocation is a let’s have a go type thing, but other times I feel I need to give some short, direct instruction first and then step back and watch it happen!

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  4. I think it depends. I do both. Sometimes my provocation is a let’s have a go type thing, but other times I feel I need to give some short, direct instruction first and then step back and watch it happen!

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  5. Hi, I’m interested in how this model might apply in an Early Years setting. I think in EY we work through the sequence quickly and in response to observations with individuals and groups.
    I’ve recently read “Planning in the Moment with Young Children: A Practical Guide for Early Years Practitioners and Parents” by Anna Ephgrave. I think the first visual reflects in the moment planning. It happened today in fact with scissor skills. A group in my class were discovering and talking about textures of different materials to make a texture board.
    I observed L struggling with scissors so…
    Model – I showed her my scissor grip and the angle I hold the scissors and the material
    Share – we used special teaching scissors so she got the feeling
    Guide – I guided her to use the ordinary scissors and helped her keep them straight
    Apply – she cut some pieces by herself
    This all happened in about 5 mins.
    I’d love to see how EY teachers use the 2nd visual.
    Thanks for sharing.

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