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Tom Wilson

All About Practice-Based Inquiry® 

What can Practice-Based Inquiry do for you?

"Although I am involved with many teams and lots of professional development, sometimes I feel fragmented. I want to find a way to make it fit together and function more like a puzzle rather than like a box full of items. This I want not only for myself, but for my school… I very much enjoyed being a part of this process of helping schools to promote student learning… So often we remain myopic in our own scope of the "world" we inhabit; what a wonderful way to reflect upon ourselves and our own school, to broaden our thinking; to reshape and challenge our practices and to celebrate our profession. I am very proud that we have this never ending pathway to excellence called the SALT visit!"

-- Rhode Island public school teacher, 2006

For teachers

The technology and principles of Practice-Based Inquiryhave the extraordinary potential for individual teachers who wish to learn how to improve their teaching by learning from what they do on a daily basis. While this includes some "reflection on practice," Practice-Based Inquiry is centered more on "thinking and doing in practice."

A June, 2005, Catalpa survey of the 994 Rhode Island Teachers who served on SALT visit teams showed that 80.9% rated the visit as the "most powerful development experience they had ever experienced." The survey sought to ascertain what made the SALT visit so powerful. 86 to 92% of the teachers indicated that they agreed with the value of these attributes:

  • Gave me new appreciation of the importance of teachers talking together about teaching
  • Gave me new ways to think about my teaching.
  • Gave me new ways to look at student learning in my classroom.
  • Gave me a new understanding of the importance of the language we use when we talk about what we do.

To see study, click here.

For school administrators

Practice-Based Inquiryprovides a number of important benefits for school administrators. The results of a Practice-Based Inquiry visit report on how well a school is performing give a school administrator a unified and coherent picture of what issues her school must address to improve its performance of its central function.

In addition, local school administrators, who serve on visit teams, learn an approach to school inquiry that they can carry over to their daily work.

For program funders

Foundation and government grant-making staff will find a new methodology in Practice-Based Inquiry for evaluating the effectiveness and value of programs they have funded.

The application of Practice-Based Inquiry to program evaluation was begun in 2005 by two projects whose purpose was to improve teaching and learning in Chicago public schools. These pilot evaluations were supported by two foundations that were interested in developing better ways to evaluate programs they had funded.

Click here for more detail,of evaluations for the Chicago Public Education Fund and the Spencer Foundation.

For parents

Practice-Based Inquiry visit protocols can easily include parents on visit teams. One of the first applications of Practice-Based Inquiry principles was for a community-based organization in Chicago. Catalpa designed a visit protocol for parents and community leaders.

In the Survey of SALT team members, parents who have served on many SALT visit teams, rate the visit very highly as a way for parents to relate to a school.

Parents agreements with the following items ranged from 84-95%:

Gave me new ways to think about how my child's school works.

Gave me new ideas about ways to find out how well my child's school is working.

Gave me new ideas about what changes I would like to see in my child's school.

For more detail click here to read study.

Contact Catalpa if you are interested in learning if there is a visit in your area, or if you would like more information on how to work to start a Practice-Based Inquiry visit in your area.

For organizations not in education

Practice-Based Inquiry has developed in the world of public schools. But, the vacuum it seeks to fill exists in other areas of professional service. American medical and law enforcement agencies rely on accreditation that utilizes professional peer teams to make basic judgments about program performance. The explicit focus of Practice-Based Inquiry on practice-in-action makes applications to other areas possible.

To learn more about the possibilities, contact Catalpa Ltd.

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