Menter et al (2001) defined practitioner enquiry as a ‘finding out’ or an investigation with a rationale and approach that can be explained or defended. Practitioner enquiry is most commonly undertaken within the practitioners own practice however, it can also be collaboratively undertaken with peers. Being an enquiring practitioner you must reflect and evaluate all your work, especially lesson plans as this enhances not only your personal development as a teacher but the development of the pupils within your class and potentially your peers. Having the mind-set of an enquiring practitioner will allow you to think critically about your teaching and how to improve your teaching. Being critically reflective is not negative as it allows you to question old assumptions, look at things from new and various perspectives and develop your practice by ensuring you can make reflective decisions. Being an enquiring practitioner you should consistently ask critical questions about your professional development such as why and how am I doing this and who and how will this benefit.
There are many benefits of being an enquiring practitioner:
- Allows teachers to challenge and transform education systems which benefits the pupils learning.
- Allows teachers to monitor their own personal development and learning.
- Allows teachers to work collaboratively on plans to develop pupils learning.
- Has a lasting impact on professional development for the practitioner.
- Allows teachers to increase their knowledge base and allows for more professional judgements to be made, which gives the practitioner a chance to build on self-esteem and professional identity.
However, there are also challenges of being an enquiring practitioner:
- Challenges the traditional way of teaching which some teachers may find difficult if they are stuck in old habits and routines.
- Different practices and techniques require different skills which can be challenging.
- Some teacher may find it difficult to challenge their own assumptions or be critical.
- It can seem like a long slow process with no end goal for some teachers.
- It can be an overwhelming process for some teachers.
As a student teacher I feel like learning about how to become and enquiring practitioner is highly beneficial not only for my professional practice but for my journey throughout university. I feel that it is essential to learn how to critically evaluate and reflect on situations, which is a skill I need to work upon. However, I feel that learning this throughout my next for years will allow for me to have a critical approach and question what I do throughout my career. Learning about how to become an enquiring practitioner throughout university will benefit my career as I will have the knowledge base of what is expected of me and how to achieve this. Whilst out on my professional practice this will be highly beneficial as I can have discussions with other members of staff about my progress and how to improve upon my learning. I personally feel that being an enquiring practitioner is a positive development as it is not only about my personal development as a teacher but also the progress of the pupils I am teaching. I am a strong believer in the sense that you never stop learning and you are never too old to learn therefore I will develop myself into an enquiring practitioner who learns throughout my career.
GTCS (no date) Practitioner Enquiry. Available online at: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/professional-update/practitioner-enquiry/practitioner-enquiry.aspx [Accessed 28/10/15)