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

4 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.


  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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