I have witnessed first hand the effectiveness of inquiry based learning. The look of excitement that the students had on their faces while making conjectures was amazing. Going into this class, I admittedly did not see the value of this teaching style. I was brought up in a school system that relied heavily on the more traditional lecture based teaching. Because of this I had the attitude that if it was good enough to teach me, why change it. After this class I can see exactly how wrong I was.
I have experienced teaching in the standard lecture based method. I have gone on pre-practicum observations in the course of my own learning. During these observations, I have had to teach and lead a class during a few lessons. I know the look of boredom on the faces of students during lecture very well. I have been on both the giving and receiving end of these glares. During these lectures you can’t gauge the attention your lesson is receiving, or the learning that is happening, accurately. You do not see anything besides blank stares. That is a problem.
Inquiry based learning lets you see the learning. It lets you see the attention the students are giving. When students are given the tools to discover on their own, they work towards the discoveries. When they make the discovery, they feel pride. Teaching this way, you can see learning happening. You feel the satisfaction of the students. You can watch them make connections that strengthen their knowledge. Because this teaching style doesn’t rely on memorization, students build their knowledge and make connections to help memory, instead of just relying on their natural memory.
Inquiry based learning revitalized my love of teaching. It gave me satisfaction in my role as facilitator. It made all of the classes I am taking worth it. I got to see the students learn. I got to see how happy they were to learn. I saw students struggle but keep going despite their setbacks. I saw students trying. It changed my perspective on what it means to be a good math teacher.
This class has taught me the importance of looking at different teaching styles. Just because the lecture based lessons worked for me doesn’t mean they work for others. The job of a teacher is to find a way to teach every student. Lessons aren’t meant to be what works best for the teacher. They are meant to be what works best for the student. Inquiry based learning allows more students access to math knowledge that would’ve been left behind in a different method. Going forward I plan to look for even more ways to reach the students I have been charged with. This class has made it clear it is possible and I will continue to correct my practice for as long as I can.