Katherine Crawford-Garrett, former UNM faculty member, and contributing UNM alumni Damon Carbajal, Kahlil Simpson and Amanda Short authored "Promising Pedagogies for Teacher Inquiry and Practice: Teaching Out Loud (Practitioner Inquiry Series)," an expansive look at the adaptability of teachers navigating inquiry-based learning.
The book examines the communal efforts of teachers in reflecting on their own teaching methods with a heightened focus on critical issues like race and social justice, particularly in the American Southwest. It surveys the positive impacts of investigative teaching on a diverse range of teachers during the global pandemic with the intention of preventing additional challenges.
Educators practicing teacher inquiry are constantly reflecting on their teaching style by being curious and critical of their methods and adjusting their style as needed. Crawford-Garrett, a former elementary school teacher and then associate professor in the UNM College of Education and Human Sciences, understood the urgency of starting the book when working with her group on Inquiry-based teaching practices in 2020.
The authors began work on the book under Crawford-Garrett after their professional development program, Teaching Out Loud, was forced to adapt to remote-style teaching. The pandemic opened up the possibilities for inquiry to fundamentally shift. She noticed some emerging themes, one being the importance of the collective for teachers and their collaboration that the pandemic brought to the forefront.
Alongside inquiry-based teaching questions, unfamiliar questions about teaching began to develop during the pandemic, when teaching shifted to survival. While staff coaxed their students through school at this time, they too were presented with their own social emotional trauma to abruptly navigate. This new responsibility left them feeling dehumanized outside of their teaching circle.
“Teachers are intellectuals and professionals who are driven by really deep questions about their practice,” Crawford-Garrett said. “This kind of inquiry group where teachers have a voice in their own professional development is rare. We valued that we could be responsive to how our needs evolved and adopt what was created by us and for us rather than doing a really rigid program.”
“None of us were trained as online teachers or in that calamity [the pandemic]. It was overnight. We were supposed to become those teachers, do it well, and manage all the behavioral stuff and all that came with the pandemic,” Carbajal added.
After they settled into the pandemic, the group was able to dive into more of the book and their inquiry work. Several new methods of testing, mandating, training and operating surfaced.
“We found that at the book’s heart was really making sure we were centering ourselves as educators in that space and providing support as needed,” Simpson reflected.
Carbajal, Simpson, and Crawford-Garrett relied on monthly follow-up meetings about teacher inquiry. Remote teaching during the pandemic made meetings for groups such as theirs that implemented Teaching Out Loud, a kind of teaching that is critical in nature, inquisitive in nature, vital.
The shift in responsibility that came with remote teaching reformatted teaching techniques. The book delves into the empowerment that came with cooperative and participatory methods of teaching within inquiry.
“When an educator feels empowered and has control of their classroom, it positively impacts students,” Carbajal said. “Teachers can focus on what’s truly impacting students and not the monolith that we think of education, especially in New Mexico.”
Simpson describes the authors’ operation as a means of positively adapting education systems with the intent to never revert back to teaching styles pre-pandemic.
"Promising Pedagogies for Teacher Inquiry and Practice: Teaching Out Loud (Practitioner Inquiry Series)," published on March 24 and has several astounding editorial reviews praising the potentiality of unification for teachers in inquiry.