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  • Khadijah Rhemtulla

The Power of Inquiry: Empowering Teachers & Inspiring Students

Where there’s a student who inquires, you’ll find there’s a teacher who inquires! You really can’t find one without the other. Just as we demonstrate the IB Learner Profile with our students, as IB teachers it is essential that we adopt an inquiry mindset to help our students actively engage in inquiry. The Inquiry Teacher sketchnote below, developed by Trevor Mackenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt, depicts key aspects for inquiry-based teaching and learning (ITL).

So what might an ITL classroom look and feel like? There’s often a buzz in the air and you’ll see a variety of resources and tools available to students and choices for student engagement.

Some students may be working in small groups, while others are working with a partner, and

some may be working independently. Where’s the teacher you ask? Well, the teacher is often

found differentiating their instruction by circulating, asking students open-ended questions or guiding students to extend their thinking, perhaps by prompting the use of various resources.

This is different from traditional teaching environments and methods, where teachers were

responsible for conveying information to students as they were often the primary source of

knowledge. Traditional teaching often focused on a structured curriculum and students’ learning was assessed on their ability to regurgitate information. Inquiry-based teaching and learning provides opportunities for students to be responsible for their learning, and teachers as supporters who guide the learning.

Inquiry-based teaching and learning promotes:

✓ Critical thinking and problem-solving skills

✓ Curiosity and wonder

✓ Active engagement and intrinsic motivation

✓ Making meaningful connections to real-life contexts

✓ Reflection on learning

✓ Collaboration and communication skills

✓ Student agency (voice, choice and ownership)

✓ Growth mindset, a desire to be a lifelong learner

You’re probably wondering about potential challenges with implementing ITL, here are some to keep in mind:

Challenge #1 - Time Constraints

Time constraints can be felt as students need time to explore, analyse and reflect on their

learning. Collaboration and planning time with colleagues is also critical to build into your

timetable. In addition you may have mandated standards that need to be met by certain



✓ focus on embedding ITL in one lesson at a time, continue to plan this way in order to

build your capacity. Before you know it, you’ll have embedded ITL throughout a unit!

✓ ask your leadership team for support with building collaboration time into your timetable

✓ remember to use backwards planning as it is so helpful with time management

Challenge #2 - Classroom Management

Since ITL is student-centered, it can sometimes feel less structured as students are still

developing their level of responsibility for learning.


✓ use of tools such as a visual timer

✓ reminding students they are working on developing their inquiry skills

✓ work towards a balance between student independence and providing guidance

Challenge #3 - Teacher training and support

Teachers have varied backgrounds and experiences with the implementation of ITL.


✓ participate in professional development opportunities to enhance your understanding of ITL

✓ collaborate with colleagues for additional support and guidance

Inquiry-based teaching and learning is essential for teachers and students as it promotes

curiosity, exploration and lifelong learning.

Please remember to leave a comment, share your ideas or ask a question.

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