Teaching Reflections · Teaching Topics/Activities · Topics for Parents and Students

10 Characteristics of Inquiry Based Teachers

Inquiry Based Learning is an ongoing trend in teaching. As a teaching style, Inquiry Based Pedagogy allows for more student choice, collaboration and innovation via project based learning and central questions that drive instruction.

Traditional Inquiry Based Teaching definitions reflect the environment created for Inquiry Based Learning as a style of instruction, but through my observation, Inquiry Based Teachers are much more than their pedagogy.

As a teaching style, Inquiry Based Teaching is something that should be quantified and shared with other teachers looking to make gains in their student achievement, engagement, relationships and general practice.

Through experiencing, observing and listening to PD sessions of teachers constantly pushing the boundaries of education, I’ve realized that Inquiry Based Teachers deserve their own classification. Here’s my humble attempt at doing just that.

Are you an Inquiry Based Teacher? Read on to see if you fit the following 10 Characteristics!

Constant Evolution

Inquiry Based Teachers demonstrate evolution by constantly reading, learning and trying new teaching trends. They embrace change, and are never happy with the status quo. 

Challenge the Status Quo

If you’re an Inquiry Based Teacher, you’re most likely in trouble with your administration from time to time. Inquiry Based Teachers question everything, from curriculum to policies to data. These teachers are prone to testing or creating new teaching methods that seem contrary to current practice, therefore causing conflict within departments or schools. They also challenge board or ministry policies and rarely accept the established ‘top down’ sequence of education.

Collaboration with Colleagues

Inquiry Based Teachers value collaboration with like minded colleagues and seek out relationships within their own department, school, district and beyond via social media to evolve their pedagogy. IBT’s (new short form) understand that to grow as educators, they require mentors, and in turn also act as mentors to others. 

Resource Sharing

You won’t find IBT’s locking up their resources in a file cabinet. These teachers understand that sharing resources is necessary for teacher grown, thus offer to share resources and experiences online to other colleagues, through staff meetings or board professional development sessions. 

Model the Inquiry Process

IBT’s model the inquiry process in their teaching style. Rather than using traditional didactic curriculum, their teaching topics, resources and assignments are guided by questions, curiosities and student need. They seek out research and learning once a question or curiosity is posed, then their trial is the actual practice in the classroom, whereby they reflect, modify, repeat. Throughout this process they seek out regular feedback from students and colleagues to improve the learning experience; if successful, they share with others and/or mentor others in following the same practice.

 Value Relationships and Communication

Inquiry Based Teachers understand that relationships and communication are the foundation of education. They actively seek out and nurture relationships with students, colleagues, administrators, support staff and mentors. These teachers value regular communication with all stakeholders in the world of education, and are often highly respected by students and colleagues.

Practice Metacognition

The practice of metacognition involves active reflection of skills as a method of improving and evolving a skill-set. Inquiry Based Teachers constantly practice metacognition to improve their classroom routines, activities and student engagement. They actively seek out feedback from students, colleagues and administrators or mentors to refine their practice.

Allow for Organic Learning

When a major event such as the horrific school shooting that took place in Orlando last month occurs, IBT’s don’t ignore it and continue on with their planned lessons. They realize that organic learning needs to take place through discussions, readings, writing, etc. Inquiry Based Teachers allow for environmental circumstances such as: weather, news (good or bad), seasons, holidays, and student questions/curiosities to take over classroom learning from time to time.

Create and Innovate

When an Inquiry Based Teacher has an idea in their mind, you often can’t stop them. They will create and innovate whatever is required to make it happen in their classroom! IBT’s rarely to never follow textbooks or course binders; they create their own resources and courses that suit their individual student interests and needs.

Empower and Inspire Others

Inquiry Based Teachers are without a doubt leaders in education, although are often quite humble. They love their jobs, and share their joy and excitement about teaching with others, which in turn empowers and inspires their colleagues. 

Final Word

It’s my hope that the trend of Inquiry Based Teaching can become as prominent as that of Inquiry Based Learning. Based on the characteristics above, I’m sure many educators can think of someone who comes to mind.

Many ‘teacher leaders’ prominent in the teaching world today embody these characteristics and regular share their teaching practice via social media: @trev_mackenzie@ajjuliani@gcouros@pennykittle@KellyGToGo.Want some inspiration and mentoring on how to embody the characteristics of Inquiry Based Teaching? Follow these peeps on Twitter! 

What do you think of my definition of Inquiry Based Teaching? Share your comments and questions below.


2 thoughts on “10 Characteristics of Inquiry Based Teachers

  1. Interesting article! I think I am an inquiry based teacher based on the characteristics you’ve mentioned. I think I fit into all ten! Not blowing my own trumpet but feeling quite pleased. 🙂 Nice post.


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