Celebrating Inquiry: Spring 2016 v.2 no.2

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Risks in Learning: Encouraging Students and Teachers to Take Responsible Risks in the Classroom.....Kelsey Christal

Inquiry Question:

Can encouraging students to take responsible risks in the classroom increase their overall performance in both their school work and their social setting?


Students in our schools have become very complacent with their routine, and strive everyday to simply complete the tasks laid in front of them. Instead of using their imagination and wonder in the classroom, they are focused on attaining good grades or simply getting through the day so that they can go home. The lack of inspiration and awe is having an affect on student's well being and how they interact in school. In today's schools anxiety is higher than ever and students are afraid to make mistakes in front of their peers. If students can be taught to take risks with their learning then they are more likely to perform better and actually enjoy what they are learning.

In order to get my students to the point where they were ready to take a risk I first had to develop a trusting relationship with them. To do this I simply spent time with them and got to know them individually. I ate lunch with them, played with them at recess, and developed a lunch time club for grade six students only. Once I gained their trust I had to create an environment where they felt safe taking risks. In order to do this I used my lunch time club to build trust and teamwork. I also implemented classroom management techniques and modelled risk taking myself so that students felt safe coming out of their comfort zone. I ended the project with a large inquiry project that required students to think outside the box and work independently on an assignment with little criteria. Some setbacks included lack of student motivation and trust in me, but I rectified these issues by furthering my relationships with students and working with them so that they could achieve their fullest potential.


This project impacted my students in a very positive way. For some students taking a risk simply meant raising their hand in class, but for others it meant coming up with their own theory about space and presenting it at our grade six Space Fair. This project impacted the school as the grade six teachers have decided to use my Space Inquiry Project in the years to come. The community was impacted by my project as they responded very positively to the Space Fair and congratulated the kids on their risk taking and achievements. I think that I will continue to research this topic and find new and exciting ways to implement risk taking in every classroom I am in. I even found myself taking risks in the classroom and giving my students more ownership of their own learning. This is something that I would like to look into further and teach others about.

Kelsey is Originally from Drumheller Alberta. She attended St. Anthony's School until grade twelve and graduated as valedictorian. After graduating, she moved to Lethbridge where she attended the University of Lethbridge and pursued degrees in both Arts and Science and Education with majors in History and Social Studies. She loves to stay active and read!