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  • Writer's pictureJenni Donohoo

Collaborative Inquiry: Partnership Principles 4-7

In the first post in this series, we covered Collaborative Teacher Inquiry. Yesterday we talked about the first three partnership principles from Jim Knight. Today we’ll cover the remaining four principles.

📷Principle #4 – Reflection: Reflection is an Integral Part of Professional Learning

Knight (2011) notes that reflection is only possible when “people have the freedom to accept or reject what they are learning as they see fit” (p. 37). This notion fits nicely within the collaborative inquiry framework as the process allows educators to dabble with ideas and theories within the context of their unique environments. During reflection, participants consider what worked well for them, what to keep, modify, or discard in light of their individual circumstances. Making room for teachers to determine their next steps based on personal reflection is essential to the collaborative inquiry process. When team members are provided the opportunity to engage in deep thinking, rather than someone else doing the thinking for them, relationships improve.

Principle #5 – Dialogue: Professional Learning Should Enable Authentic Dialogue

Knight (2011) describes dialogue as “talking with the goal of digging deeper and exploring ideas together” (p. 38). Since the focus of a team’s inquiry is collaboratively determined and shared, dialogue has a greater potential to be rich, focused, and solution-oriented. If implemented with fidelity, the process can move conversations to deeper levels as participants develop common understandings and a shared vocabulary about student learning and teaching approaches. In applying the principle of dialogue, collaborative inquiry participants are not as concerned with being right as they are with getting things right. Better relationships result when dialogue is focused on what is best for students rather than whose way is best.

Principle #6 – Praxis: Teachers Should Apply Their Learning to Their Real-Life Practice as They are Learning

“Praxis is enabled when teachers have a chance to explore, prod, stretch, and re-create whatever it is they are studying – to roll up their sleeves, really consider how they teach, really learn a new approach, and then reconsider their teaching practice and reshape the new approach” (Knight, 2011, p. 43). The principle of praxis describes what takes place during a collaborative inquiry cycle. Coupled with reflection, teachers implement new and different approaches in their classrooms in order to determine how to meet the learning needs of their students. Teachers explore and modify approaches accordingly. As they test strategies and determine how to adapt them, they are engaging in praxis. Teachers feel empowered as they personalize lessons with their own creative touch.

Principle #7 – Reciprocity: We Should Expect to Get as Much as We Give

Collaborative inquiry requires participants to interrogate classroom practices that have been traditionally private while assuming the role of a learner. Through the sharing of practices, individuals abandon a knowing stance and adopt a learning stance. Applying the principle of reciprocity means that we can truly expect to learn with and from each other. Team members build healthy and stronger relationships by expecting to get from their colleagues as much as they give to them.

In conclusion, collaborative inquiry provides a parallel structure to the seven Partnership Principles. When enacted, the ideas embodied in Knight’s partnership approach help to strengthen professional relationships. It is beneficial for facilitators and participants of collaborative inquiry to learn about, consider, and perhaps adopt the Partnership Principles. Relationships will be enhanced, and as a result, educators will be one step closer to realizing greater success for all students.

Reference: Knight, J. (2011). Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction. Corwin, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Originally Published:

Donohoo, J. (2015). Three-Part Blog Series - Collaborative Inquiry: Helping Relationships, Partnership Principles 1-3, Partnership Principles 4-7. Corwin-Connect, July 29th-31st 2014. Download available from:



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