Six ways to Support the Implementation of the Spiral of Inquiry: Lessons from New Zealand

Transformative Educational Leadership Journal, ISSUE: {Issue Date:12} |

In this article, Rebbecca Sweeney shares the professional learning approach and related tools and resources she uses to support schools to re-design Teaching as Inquiry using the Spiral of Inquiry, an approach that avoids the numerous pitfalls collaborative inquiry can present.

Teacher professional learning facilitation practices designed to support transformational learning must take into account participants’ current “way of knowing” and offer developmentally appropriate supports and challenges.

This knowledge is drawn from the work of Drago-Severson (2007) which found the following practices to be effective:

      • creating situations in which people can articulate their thinking through writing, speaking and/or acting
      • creating situations that help people uncover the assumptions and beliefs that guide their thinking and actions
      • providing opportunities for people to discuss ambiguities, contradictions and/or faulty reasoning
      • providing opportunities to consider alternative points of view
      • providing opportunities to imagine alternative ways of thinking and behaving
      • creating situations that scaffold different forms of adult collaboration.

These practices ensure that the professional learning experience for teachers is far from a mandatory, mind-numbing, passive participant approach. Rather, it is a co-constructive, and highly participatory approach to supporting teachers through change (Timperley, 2011, p. 1).

Teaching is a process of ongoing inquiry into, and evaluation of practice (Timperley & Parr, 2010, p. 10). All teacher learning and development should be underpinned by teacher inquiry that enables evaluation of practice to unfold over time. To ensure this, we should consider all the ways in which teacher inquiry practices and processes may be helping or hindering professional learning in education settings and addressing areas for improvement.

Many education settings in New Zealand have implemented teacher inquiry in ways that have, over time, resulted in the following problematic factors:

      • Teacher inquiry can be regarded by teachers purely as the equivalent of appraisal
      • As a result of the heavy focus on linking teacher inquiry to appraisal, many inquiries are individual rather than collaborative
      • Teacher inquiry is regarded as a compliance task to be “ticked off” for management
      • Leaders dictate the focus/topic of teacher inquiries causing disengagement in the process
      • Teachers choose their own interest areas for inquiries, often leading to insignificant change that doesn’t impact on learners and therefore results in frustration for teachers
      • The entire process is implemented over short timeframes (from 3 weeks up to a year) resulting in a lack of movement towards a transformed learning environment

The timeframes required to enable teachers to embed and sustain significant transformations in learning environments varies. As Timperley, Kaser and Halbert (2014) state,

The professional learning research evidence indicates that the integration of substantial new knowledge requires a minimum of a year of focused collaborative effort to make a difference. Two years is much better. With three years of intensive engaged effort, movement towards a transformed learning environment is usually well under way. So space must be created for this to happen. (p. 16)

The common frustrations that teachers experience with teacher inquiry can arise from the lack of support that they receive to deeply understand the Teaching as Inquiry framework, both in theory and in practice. The framework supports complex pedagogical change. Timperley, Kaser and Halbert (2014) state that when that change is more complex,

…it is important to slow down in order to speed up. In these complex situations, some actions may be premature and we need to bring collective thinking to the table before leaping in. That is what the inquiry spiral is all about. Otherwise we can get into unproductive cycles of experimentation, disillusionment and abandonment, only to jump to the next thing that may or may not work.” (p. 17)

Professional learning support for schools in Aotearoa, New Zealand to shift away from these problematic factors has, in some cases involved dedicated support to “re-introduce” teacher inquiry to staff and re-think the systems, processes and practices surrounding teacher inquiry using the Spiral of Inquiry framework.

This paper summarises the professional learning approach and related tools and resources used to support schools to re-design Teaching as Inquiry using the Spiral of Inquiry. It considers the impact of the support that I provided in my role as a Consultant for CORE Education, from the perspectives of the teachers and leaders who have participated in that professional learning. Participants had been engaged in the re-design and learning process for as little as eight months and up to 2.5 years.

CORE Education is a registered charitable professional learning and development organisation with not-for-profit status.

The Professional Learning Approach: Support, Facilitation, Tools and Resources

Face to face facilitation:

The style of facilitation and design of sessions was guided by the practices referred to by Drago-Severson (2007). All participants experienced this facilitation through either:

      • “Booster Days” where middle and senior leaders from many schools attended the day or half day sessions (particularly in the first year of learning the new process)


      • sessions for all staff at individual schools.

There were approximately five visits in a year aligned to the phases of the Spiral of Inquiry and/or where the staff were in their journey.

The following is a summary of a typical series of sessions:

      1. An overview of the Spiral of Inquiry including background, purpose, exploration of current and desired future school practices and the designing and planning of Scanning in teams using the 7 Principles of Learning for guidance.
      2. Reviewing the Scanning process and the range of data gathered during Scanning. Analysing the data for quality including accuracy, breadth of voice, a balance of strengths and challenges for learners. Supporting participants to engage in robust conversations about data.
      3. Identifying themes in the data through Focusing activities to identify common learner challenges and strengths. Identification of a pedagogical focus for the team using the 7 Principles of Learning. A review of the Focusing process.
      4. Support for teams to use the themes uncovered through Focusing to Develop Hunches about their practice. Introduction of tools and resources to support practice analysis, feedback and observations. Individual school visits during this stage would almost always involve the facilitator working closely with every team for 1.5 hours to engage in practice analysis. Setting teams up for the remaining phases of Learning, Taking Action and Checking with resources for each phase, clear actions, and some tailored support such as the curation of relevant readings and online resources or other external expertise.
      5. Story Hui, an evaluative tool that uses imagery and oral storytelling to encourage teacher self-regulation, used near the end of the year to support teams to evaluate their own learning journey for the year. This process guides teacher self regulation/metacognition and enables them to celebrate progress made. Support is also provided at this point to review other phases of the Spiral of Inquiry. is also a tool that teachers can use with learners to check their perspectives on the progress made in any given time period.

Flexibility was provided within the above framework depending on the progress participants were making or the challenges they may have been facing. Specific leadership support was also provided within each visit.

Facilitation included a range of practices and protocols that reflected the fact that the professional learning was occurring in Aotearoa, New Zealand, where Māori are the indigenous people. Te reo Māori (the Māori language) was used where the facilitators had the capability and tikanga Māori (Māori protocol, convention, custom) was adhered to. This included:

      • starting all sessions and meals with karakia (prayer or chant in te reo Māori to increase goodwill and favourable outcomes)
      • using mihi (Māori acknowledgement/greeting) to greet the participants, to acknowledge wider happenings, tangata whenua (the people of the area), whenua (the land/area) and the whakapapa (genealogy) of the geographical area.
      • using pepeha (Māori speech to outline personal history, whānau (family), whakapapa and ancestors) in sessions to introduce ourselves

In addition to the above, other culturally responsive approaches were sometimes used to foster awareness of Aotearoa’s bicultural heritage and local rangatira (Māori leaders/chiefs). Facilitators at CORE Education are expected to increase their capability to be culturally aware and responsive over time to acknowledge our aspiration to have an equitable partnership with Māori.[1]

Mentoring/coaching approach (face to face and virtual)

Every school had access to four or five face-to-face visits in a year plus monthly online mentoring. Many schools utilised the face to face visits to give every inquiry team about 1.5 hours to work with the facilitator on their inquiry. Some schools chose to use the time for their team leaders or inquiry leaders to get individual or group support that would in turn benefit the teams.

Virtual mentoring practice was provided through uChoose. Mentoring practice was guided by a Code of Ethics (see Appendix I) disclosed to each participant, and a criteria-based practice rubric.  The GROW model (Whitmore, 2017) was used to support sessions either explicitly or implicitly, and a non-directive catalyst/facilitator style or more directive, active coach/challenger style was utilised (Klasen & Clutterbuck, 2002 as cited in Wallace & Gravells, 2008, p. 6).

Tools and Resources

Over time, several tools and resources were created to support participants in the professional learning.


The Impact of the Professional Learning Approach: Six ways to support the implementation of the Spiral of Inquiry

A survey was used to gather the voice of teacher and leader participants about what support, facilitation, tools and resources make the difference when implementing the Spiral of Inquiry (see Appendix II for the survey questions). This section outlines the six most impactful aspects according to the participants.

  1. Coaching & Mentoring conversations

When invited to share thoughts about great support or resources for learning about, and implementing the Spiral of Inquiry, almost all participants agreed that coaching and mentoring conversations were important. They experienced formal mentoring on a monthly basis and the GROW model was used to shape sessions. Sessions were personalised to the individual or the team and were virtual (email, video conference) or face to face.

“I think that facilitation and coaching is a must! I am not quite sure we would have gotten the same outcomes if we had tried to do it ourselves. I think it would have fizzed and failed.”

Survey participant comment

When asked specifically about virtual mentoring, participants explained that this impacted in the following ways:

      • Ideas could be tested
      • Teams felt that the outside accountability for their plans was useful
      • Helped to maintain momentum and stay on track
      • Teams felt well scaffolded as they learned the process
      • Kept teams reflecting
      • Clarification was gained about the process or where to go next

“It was our expert lifeline. It made us think deeply and kept bringing us back to the process and the deeper pedagogical change in our teaching. As teachers, in the busy day to day, it is easy to get hooked into an action without always considering the why and the outcomes for our learners.”

Survey participant comment

When asked specifically about face to face mentoring visits, participants explained that this impacted in the following ways:

      • Regain focus/gain clarity
      • Opportunities for the team to clarify the process and test ideas in a safe way
      • Work through issues/challenges
      • Move forward/keep on track
      • Teams felt better supported to reflect on their practice
      • Maintain momentum and motivation

There appears to be a key difference in the way that participants utilised the virtual support and the face to face support. Face to face mentoring was identified as a space for working through issues and challenges, whereas this wasn’t identified as an impact of the virtual support. It could be possible that participants felt safer to work through challenges with a mentor who is physically present.

“It allowed the leaders of the Spiral process to ‘role play’ the process so as we got a better understanding of what each step meant.” Survey participant comment

“This is the business end of change. What is happening for us? What are our challenges? How can we solve them? It puts us and our needs at the centre. From readings, templates and ‘talk’ delivered PLD we would not have been able to implement what we have. We have needed the specific support.” Survey participant comment

“I think there were a few ‘doubters’ at first and having the face to face visits with someone who sits outside of the culture of the school actually brings everyone into line and onto the same page. I think it also gave people a bit of a shake up in regards to using current research and literature to inform decision making. I don’t think many people did any readings prior to us taking part in the spirals.” Survey participant comment

Through engaging in the non-directive mentoring support, many mentees were able to experience a formal mentoring relationship for the first time in their careers. Mentees often reflected in sessions that they were learning effective questioning techniques through the mentoring, that they could then use with their own mentees on staff. They were realising the power of effective non-directive mentoring that avoids advice-giving practices, and ensures that the mentee is encouraged and empowered to navigate their own challenges.

Some schools involved in this professional learning have implemented a mentoring culture on their staff through training groups of mentors who then go on to mentor others until, over time, the whole school is engaged in a coaching and mentoring framework.

  1. Tools for Developing a Hunch

A large majority of participants identified tools and resources to support the Developing a Hunch phase as most useful.

The Developing a Hunch template and toolkit are resources that were created to support teachers to turn their attention inwards. Instead of pointing outwards to blame others or wider circumstances, these tools help teachers to look at themselves and their own practices that might be contributing to the challenges their learners face. The approach promoted in these resources and favoured by participants, is an adaptation of several tools including:

Our practices attached to the current problem or challenge Our reasons for using those practices: (5 Whys)

Figure 1: a snapshot of the template for situation analysis & 5 Whys

A detailed description of needs analysis based on inquiry is provided in Practitioner Research for Educators: A Guide to Improving Classrooms and Schools by Robinson and Lai (2006). They discuss ways in which inquiry, or “the critical examination of practice” can be strengthened through the use of Problem Based Methodology. Robinson’s Problem Based Methodology acknowledges the contextual issues of collaboration and encourages inquiry into these problems to find solutions. According to Robinson and Lai, the use of Problem Based Methodology allows issues of context to be addressed, ideas to be challenged and the effectiveness of collaborative work to be checked.

Timperley and Earl (2012) discuss Situation Analysis which, like Robinson’s Problem Based Methodology, is a process that encourages inquiry into practices to fully understand a student achievement problem or challenge. They acknowledge that it is difficult to identify what practices are leading to achievement challenges, and propose that Situation Analysis that involves the perspectives of family, whānau and community can help. Timperley and Earl explain:

A situation analysis (J.Annan, 2005; B. Annan, Wootton, & Timperley, unpublished) is a facilitated process to help those wanting to improve outcomes for students to identify how they might need to change their thinking and actions in order to achieve ongoing improvement…One place to fit it in the network cycle of inquiry, learning and action is when developing a hunch about what is leading to what. Another time might be after checking if enough of a difference has been made to outcomes for learners, particularly if the impact is less than hoped for. At this point, the situation analysis can be used to identify the focus of the next cycle of inquiry…It frequently means identifying what is not happening e.g. an absence of collegial critique. This process can take up to two days.(2012, pp. 40-41)

The process (see Figures 1 & 2) starts with a known learner challenge discovered through Scanning and Focusing. Through using the intent of the Developing a Hunch phase (what is causing this?), teachers seek out the pedagogical challenge that is possibly contributing to the challenges their learners are experiencing.

Figure 2 shows a team’s Spidergram where they summarised the learner challenges that emerged from Scanning and Focusing in the middle of the Spidergram and then considered what might be causing this. They were encouraged to consider their own practices but weren’t restricted to this. It is important that teachers are able to get their deeply held beliefs out on the table for discussion, even if they are potentially flawed beliefs or beliefs about learners’ home lives. Such beliefs can become “roadblocks” to motivation for solving complex problems if we don’t allow time to debate and investigate them.

Figure 2 also shows the beginning of the 5 Whys process. Teachers selected a practice from the Spidergram in order to dig deep into their theories behind the practice using the 5 Whys approach. The 5 Whys process takes teacher reasoning from something simple and obvious such as “I’m trying to help” through to “I am struggling to know how to plan in a balanced way that enables me to support learners with the Key Competencies.”

Figure 2: Spidergram and 5 Whys Process

Adapted 5 Whys Process

  1. Each teacher considers the “challenge statement” about the focus learners.
  2. THINK: Each teacher (on their own) writes down one negative practice that they believe they are using that is causing the challenge to occur.
  3. THINK: Each teacher (on their own) writes down one positive practice that they believe they are using that is helping to address the challenge.
  4. SHARE: Starting with the leader of the team each person shares their negative practice and then their positive practice.
    1. Share the negative practice (record it in the hunch template)
    2. One person (nominated facilitator) asks the teacher why they use that practice (the teacher must explain why by “pointing the finger inwards” and must not blame outside factors) (record reason in hunch template)
    3. Facilitator continues to ask WHY four more times to extract further thinking from the teacher – all information is recorded in the template (an ah-ha moment usually occurs where all can see that the initial problem is not the real problem after all)
    4. Continue the same process with the positive practice and repeat for the whole team

Note: this process takes a lot of time and the team dialogue is an important aspect. As an indication, 1.5 hours will get the process started with 2-3 people sharing their practices and reasons. This process is an adaptation of the 5 Whys Process.

Figure 3: One way to do the 5 Whys process

  1. Toolkits for the Spiral of Inquiry phases

The toolkits for each phase of the Spiral of Inquiry were designed to support leaders as they worked alongside staff to learn and implement the framework. Participants reported that the Scanning and Focusing toolkits had the most impact, alongside the Developing a Hunch toolkit described above.

“I experienced some Scanning surprises – I realised I was not giving enough credit to the kids – my kids can make the connections. I had been making assumptions – their responses floored me. I was surprised at how they see themselves and how they saw the learning.”  Quote from a teacher’s Story Hui, 2017

“Scanning came back – was a little shocked at what some students said, I thought I knew them and that they knew me. I was a little shocked with what a few said, made me take a second take about how I am working with the students, presenting myself etc. While some were very positive others weren’t. It made me step back and check my assumptions. All the data from all of us was collated, so then we started to look at what we had, we looked for common things, drilling down and asking “but why, but why….” Some of the honesty was really interesting and hard, when I realised I was not actually doing things how I could be doing them, trying to understand was interesting.” Quote from a teacher’s Story Hui, 2017

Leaders learning the process while also leading it in their schools often identify a need for examples, templates and illustrations of what to do in each phase. The toolkits were designed to meet this need without being too prescriptive. They contain a range of ways to engage in each phase, and provide examples that are adaptable.

The 7 Principles of Learning Toolkit was also identified by participants as having an impact on their learning in relation to the Spiral of Inquiry. Often as teachers and leaders move through each phase of the Spiral of Inquiry, they can become very focused on what the learners are doing and can lose sight of how learning behaviours can relate to their own pedagogical capabilities. The 7 Principles of Learning Toolkit outlines the range of pedagogies that are most impactful in improving the design of learning environments (Dumont, Istance and Francisco, 2010). Facilitation and mentoring involved referring to the 7 Principles of Learning regularly, to support leaders and teams in identifying their focused inquiry as it emerged and changed over time.

  1. Self Review & Reflection template

The Self Review and Reflection template utilises quotes from Timperley, Kaser & Halbert (2014) about each phase of the Spiral of Inquiry and encourages participants to reflect on the quotes either before or after engaging in activities related to a particular phase of the Spiral of Inquiry. Teaching teams are encouraged to work through the template together over the school year as they engage in inquiry. After engaging in this group reflection, teams often express that they feel reassured and affirmed in their inquiry actions. Dialogue using the quotes and prompts in the template also causes teams to identify next steps in their inquiry or areas and phases that they need to address or revisit. Reading and reflecting on the quotes and questions provided also causes teams to address any frustrations with the process. For example, some find the pace of inquiry to be slow and after using the Self Review and Reflection template, they are more able to accept that this is necessary in order to ensure that complex pedagogical change can be successful.

  1. Templates

Scanning, Focusing, Developing a Hunch and Taking Action templates were identified as useful and impactful by participants. Templates were created over time as people requested these to support them with more challenging actions in the Spiral of Inquiry framework. Templates can be problematic in professional learning settings, as some people can find them overly prescriptive and templates can sometimes cause a narrowing of thinking in teachers about the possibilities for action in each phase of the Spiral of Inquiry. Others see templates as starting points that can be adapted and changed to suit individual needs. An important part of introducing templates to leaders and teachers was the mentoring that supported the use of each template. This included:

      • Videos explaining the use of templates
      • Face to face or virtual mentoring to support a team to have collaborative conversations in order to populate templates
      • Encouragement to adapt the templates or to create new templates
      • Encouragement to focus less on templates and more on conversations and inquiry actions through teamwork and dialogue over time
  1. Leadership involvement and participation

Some of the participants believed that they had good leadership support while others did not believe this. Yet both groups emphasised the importance of leadership supporting the professional learning and providing specific time for staff to engage as a team in the Spiral of Inquiry process.

Identified leadership support that is valued by staff includes:

      • Providing Spiral of Inquiry time in the annual staff meeting schedule
      • Creating/co-constructing professional learning groups and dedicating time for these to work together
      • Checking in with team leaders to ensure that time is given in team and syndicate meetings to engage with the Spiral of Inquiry process
      • Encouraging more professional conversations and reflection

The leaders of the process did not have to be senior leadership team members. In some instances, leaders were appointed from within the teaching staff.

“The leaders have been completely engaged in the process. They value the process and in doing so signal the power and the relevance of spirals. TAI (Teaching as Inquiry) in the past has often been a “let’s do this so we can tick it off.” Spirals in comparison is about research based learning to drive real change in current practice.”

Survey participant comment

Conclusion: What has an impact, on whom and how?

Impact is as much about seeing what the teachers have learned as they engaged in inquiry as it is about the changed outcomes for learners. Timperley (2011) emphasises that learners are our touchstones and the reason for teachers to engage. Timperley also points out that “Linda Kaser and Judy Halbert remind us that it is no longer acceptable for teachers and leaders to say they provided opportunities for students to learn but they did not learn.” (Timperley, p. 6)

When supporting teachers through the Spiral of Inquiry framework, we want to see an improvement in, and impact on, both evaluative and instructional capability. Instructional capability refers to teachers having the adaptive expertise, knowledge and skills to select and use effective practices for particular groups of learners (Timperley and Parr, 2010, p. 28). Evaluative capability refers to teachers having the capability to use evidence to reflect on their practice by asking questions about their own learning needs and next steps (Timperley and Parr, 2010, p. 31).

The six aspects of support that have an impact, as noted by participants, are each impactful on teachers as they build their instructional and evaluative capability:

Table 1

Support that has an impact Instructional capability Evaluative capability Organisational capabililty
Coaching and mentoring conversations
Tools for Developing a Hunch
Toolkits for the Spiral of Inquiry phases
Self Review and Reflection template
Leadership involvement and participation

It is common when supporting teachers through inquiry to observe that teachers find it a challenge to locate and utilise readings and resources to support the design of instructional practice. Teachers often report being time-poor and therefore don’t prioritise time to engage in New Learning actions. This can have a negative impact on Taking Action, particularly the design of changed practice. Many teachers are not sure where to start looking for professional learning resources to support change in instructional practice and thus they appreciate help from an expert to source or curate credible readings, resources and other support such as targeted professional learning.

For some teachers, the professional learning they engaged in for the Spiral of Inquiry was the first time they had sourced their own learning resources and readings:

“Then we started to do heaps of reading, some of it was hard to get into, but I particularly liked the stuff around indigenous people that we did – my own classes are at least ⅔ maaori – so I was trying to become aware of the things they like and how they like to work. When I looked at the common things from scanning, there were a lot of indicators aligned to the readings that I thought were really interesting.” Excerpt from a teacher’s Story Hui reflection, 2018

Part of building evaluative capability involves challenging our own assumptions as teachers. The tools and resources have a positive impact on the thought processes of teachers:

“Challenging the assumptions that I had was confronting but not scary, being in the little group helped to not make it scary – the fact that I wasn’t just one person doing it, there were people around me who were also delving deep. It was good to change the way I looked at what I was doing.” Excerpt from a teacher’s Story Hui reflection, 2018

These realisations for teachers as they reflected on their professional learning for the Spiral of Inquiry show the shifts in thinking about what makes a difference. These can lead to a sustainable change in practice.

“Through this learning, I realised the arrogance of teachers. We see problems but try to solve them without asking our main stakeholders! We collectively draw on our years of teaching but don’t consult kids about what could create improvements.” Excerpt from a teacher’s Story Hui reflection, 2017

“We changed our practice, giving learners more opportunities for success in manageable chunks. We provided time for reflection and setting plans before learning occurred. As a result we’ve seen a huge difference in learners’ self regulation and success. Next year, we will be starting with reflections and roles to set our learners up for success from the outset.” Excerpt from a teacher’s Story Hui reflection, 2018

Such realisations and shifts in evaluative and instructional capability can and do lead to better outcomes for learners over time. After the first year of teachers learning the Spiral of Inquiry process, one school found a positive increase in achievement in all curriculum learning areas for all cohorts of learners (gender and ethnicity) for the first time ever. They also reported that teachers strongly believed that key factors in this increase in achievement across the board for all learners were:

      • “More positive relationships between teachers and learners as a result of more in depth scanning of learners to get to know them. Teachers feel they now have a stronger feeling of teaching the learners, rather than teaching the content.
      • Deeper actions taken in the classroom as a result of the Spiral of Inquiry. These actions took longer to implement and were not small changes in practice.”

Senior Leadership Team mentoring notes, December 2018

Many teaching teams find increases in learner engagement during initial successful actions in the classroom. These important noticings are often captured using engagement observations tools and such tools motivate teachers to continue to improve their practice to support learners to succeed:

“We had amazing results in terms of engagement. We observed that 98% of learners showed positive engagement at some point – not all the time but definitely more engaged than in the past. Learners started telling us that learning was fun, it connected with them, captured their imaginations. They want to see the relevance.” Excerpt from a teacher’s Story Hui reflection, 2017

When participants in the professional learning were asked what advice they would give to another school about teacher inquiry, they shared further understandings of the impact this learning has had on them:

“If you are a school that values quality professional learning and are looking for an opportunity to support your teachers as they research best practice and look to make real change that will make a difference for your learners …go with Spirals!”

“This is a deep and powerful process to go through as a teacher and as a team. It requires thoughtful questioning and it requires time for each phase. A facilitator/mentor can guide you through at the right pace. This ain’t about quick fixes. This is long term change to practice and it is very rewarding!”

“Go for it! It’s an awesome way to better engage with your kids and gain a deeper understanding of their learning needs.”

Overall, the findings shared in this paper highlight the importance of connection.

Human minds are wired to connect and this is as important for adult learners as it is for young learners in schools. The tools favoured by these adult learners encourage dialogue between team members and support ongoing connections between teachers and learners.

[1] CORE Education is an organisation that leads national development in culturally responsive practice, and aspires to have an equitable partnership with Māori, internally and externally, based on the articles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. CORE values all people, languages and cultures – working towards its’ vision of becoming a Te Tiriti o Waitangi based partnership organization for an equitable and thriving Aotearoa (New Zealand).


Appendix I

Code of Ethics / Protocols

A code of ethics and protocols for any coaching scheme might consist of the following which is based on an adaptation of the Code of Practice published by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council:

  • Participation – while participation, for both coachees and coaches, is an integral aspect of the coaching process, either party may break off the relationship if they feel it is not working. Both parties share responsibility for the smooth working of the relationship, as well as the winding down and proper ending at a time identified by both parties.
  • Coaching is a confidential activity in which both parties have a duty of care towards each other. The coach will only disclose information when explicitly agreed with the coachee or when the coach believes there is a serious danger to the coachee or others if the information is withheld.
  • The coach’s role is to respond in a non-judgmental and primarily non-directive manner to the coachee’s performance and development needs. The aim is to help the coachee to articulate and achieve goals. The coach will not impose his/her own agenda, nor will he/she intrude into areas that the coachee wishes to keep off-limits.
  • Both parties will respect each other’s time and other responsibilities, ensuring they do not impose beyond what is reasonable. Both parties will also respect the position of third parties.
  • The coach will be aware of and operate within the limits of their experience and expertise.
  • The coach and coachee will be honest with each other about how the coaching relationship is working.


Appendix II

What comes to mind immediately for you when you think about great support or resources for learning about and implementing the Spiral of Inquiry?

  • Coaching conversations (the ongoing virtual and face to face support) with a personalised approach and flexible ways of delivery (e.g. email, video conference, face to face visits). 72%
  • Collaborative professional conversations with peers each step of the way36%
  • Guidance in locating relevant and useful research/readings27%
  • Having access to an expert with knowledge of the process36%

Which of these tools/resources did you find useful? Please number them with 1 being most useful to 3 being somewhat useful and 4 not used or not aware of this:

The most useful resources that appear to have had the greatest impact on teachers as they engaged in professional learning about the Spiral of Inquiry were:

  • Hunchwork tools (including the 5 Whys process) 80% most useful, 20% somewhat useful
  • Developing a Hunch Toolkit63% most useful, 37% somewhat useful
  • 7 Principles of Learning Toolkit 63% most useful, 37% somewhat useful
  • Spirals of Inquiry Self Review & Reflection (with links to Code & Standards) 63% most useful, 37% somewhat useful
  • SPRINTS template and guidance 63% most useful, 37% somewhat useful
  • Scanning Toolkit 54% most useful, 46% somewhat useful
  • Focusing Toolkit 54% most useful, 46% somewhat useful
  • Tools and ideas for gathering learner voice 45% most useful, 55% somewhat useful
  • Scanning Template (linked to 7 Principles) 27% most useful, 73% somewhat useful

Other resources were seen as most useful by 35% of particpants or less, with some of these being seen as not useful by about 25% of participants:

  • Learning, Taking Action & Checking Toolkit
  • Evaluative & Investigative Questions template/exercise
  • Leading Change and Team Building Toolkit
  • Leadership Challenges Reflection Sheet (wasn’t consistently promoted to all participants)

Responses to the following questions available on request:

In what ways were face to face visits and facilitation of teams useful for your school?

In what ways was virtual mentoring useful for your school?

In what ways does school leadership have an impact on how you implement the Spiral of Inquiry?

What support or resources would you find useful in the future for implementing the Spiral of Inquiry? (what was missing for you or what ideas/requests do you have?)

What advice would you give to other schools seeking to engage with Spiral of Inquiry PLD?

Rebbecca Sweeney

Education Consultant for CORE Education Tātai Aho Rau, New Zealand

Rebbecca facilitates, coaches and mentors leaders, middle leaders and teachers across Aotearoa, New Zealand. Most of her work focuses on supporting organisations to embed and sustain effective teacher inquiry practices using the Spiral of Inquiry framework. This includes a focus on leaderhsip, mentoring and coaching and effective team work. Her areas of expertise are teacher inquiry, leadership theory and practice and collaboration.

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