Teacher Research, Wonder and the Sweet Spot

“I’m concerned about the passive learners.  I think there is too much curriculum and we need more student driven learning.

“We have to cut back.”

“We need to let kids solve problems.”

“Less curriculum, more time.”

These were comments that went around a small group of colleagues.  We had just read the Building Curriculum chapter from Kids 1st From Day 1 by Christine Hertz and Kristine Mraz.  We were in the process of sharing our ideas, questions and takeaways after reading.

The conversation led us to time and wonder.  “Wouldn’t it be great if we all started the year by asking kids about what they wonder about, what they want to learn?” A colleague added to our conversation.  Heads nodded quietly.

That last question hung in my head as drove home.

It got me thinking about wonder in adults.  Do we have that sense of wonder and discovery ourselves?  If we don’t, then how are we to be comfortable allowing for wonder, discovery, and the mess that comes with,  in our schools and classrooms?

I believe the first step in knowing what it feels like to bring wonder and discovery in our classrooms and our schools is through teacher research.  We need to each find our own “What happens when….” question.  

What happens when I change my library mid year in collaboration with my class?

What happens when I create math/science discovery stations once a week?

What happens when I join Twitter?

What happens when I work with a colleague to co teach once a month, a week?

These questions can lead to action. These questions can begin to the journey to what Mraz and Hertz call the sweet spot.  The sweet spot – the place where curriculum and kid-driven instruction meet.

Imagine sharing the last question with your class.  “This month, Ms. Janny and I are going to bring both classes together for Reader’s Workshop.  We will teach the lessons together and our small groups will be kids from both classes and you might get to confer with Ms. Janny instead of me.  And, Ms. Janny and I want to know, along the way, and at the end of the month, what you learned.”

Teacher research questions foster creativity, reflection, and discovery.  Embedded in it all is wonder.  When we begin to wonder, we can instill a sense of wonder and discovery in our schools, in our classrooms, in children.

Wondering starts with the teacher.

“Children deserve to be active participants in their education and crafters of their own learning paths.  When we encourage this, we encourage active, powerful thinkers rather than passive receptors of knowledge.” Kids 1st From Day 1, Mraz and Hertz 


8 thoughts on “Teacher Research, Wonder and the Sweet Spot”

  1. Great slice! “Wondering starts with the teacher!” Thanks for nudging me to consider how I can best embrace taking risks and wondering in my own classroom.


  2. I appreciate the way you have taken really reasonable teacher questions and called them research. You have suggested that teacher research is well within our reach and is, in fact, a normal part of our practice. We can make most of our practice into inquiry if we choose to.


  3. Just as we need to read, write, do the math, we also need to wonder so that we understand what it really feels like in an authentic way. We need to spy on ourselves wondering!


  4. Yes, let’s wonder! You have inspired me to wonder many times through the years. One of your inspiring wonders got me to start blogging, and what a difference it has made in my personal and teaching life. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s