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Leading Through Spirals of Inquiry

For Equity and Quality

By Judy Halbert & Linda Kaser
Imprint: Portage & Main Press

Categories: Education, Leadership, Professional Development, School Superintendents & Principals, Inclusive Education
Paperback : 9781774920206, 224 pages, May 2022
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781774920282, 224 pages, July 2022
Ebook (PDF) : 9781774920275, 224 pages, July 2022

Table of contents

Table of Contents


1 Purpose, Curiosity, and Mindset: Three Foundational Ideas

2 Scanning: The Starting Point for Team Inquiry

3 Focusing: Deciding on Impact

4 Developing a Hunch: Taking Responsibility

5 New Professional Learning: The Importance of Informed Action

6 New Professional Learning: Designing for Change

7 Taking Action: Supporting New Practices

8 Checking: Assessing for Impact

9 Spirals Across Networks: Going Deeper and Going Further


Appendix A: Indigenous Understandings Learning Progression—Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools



In this guide for school leaders, discover specific strategies, real-world examples, and a proven framework to help create and sustain innovative learning environments.


★ Starred selection for CCBC's Best Books Ideal for Teachers 2023!

Experienced educators Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser expand on their previous work in this all-new book for school leadership teams. Written for teams ready to get started—or keen to go deeper—this book will provoke new thinking and provide specific strategies for accelerating meaningful change.

Leading Through Spirals of Inquiry walks the reader through the six stages of the Spiral of Inquiry, a proven framework to help you 

  • overcome inequality to create genuine equity and change outcomes for students;
  • transform learning environments at both the school and district level;
  • clarify the direction for new professional learning based on evidence from educational research as well as real-world examples of innovative practices from other schools;
  • challenge long-held biases and assumptions guided by clarity of purpose, a growth mindset, and a stance of curiosity;
  • effectively incorporate self-reflection and continuous improvement in your learning environments.

Building on the experiences and wisdom of inquiry leaders from around the world, this book provides support for the specific issues leaders face during the process of change, as well as ways to engage in and support inquiry networks across schools, districts, and other jurisdictions.


Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser approach teaching and learning with the respect and wisdom it deserves. Every part of this book acknowledges the complexity of education, but cuts through it to offer practical ways to keep being and doing better. If you want to make a real difference for children and young people, this book is where to start. I know I will be carrying it with me for a long time to come.

Dr. Amelia Peterson, Associate Professor, London Interdisciplinary School, England

If Leading Through Spirals of Inquiry were required reading for every education leader, school systems and the world would be a much better place. Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser invite readers to journey with them as they examine how adults can help every child “cross the stage with dignity, purpose, and options.” This book is at once a practical guide for school personnel and a manifesto on how to transform, and leapfrog forward, our education systems.

Rebecca Winthrop, Senior Fellow and Co-Director, Center for Universal Education, The Brookings Institution

The chapters in Leading Through Spirals of Inquiry provide a pathway towards implementing a cycle of inquiry that makes a significant difference to students and to the collective purpose of schools. Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser’s framework challenges us to move slowly through a process of curiosity and inquiry to create a culture of learning that continually asks us to consider what matters most to student learning, and more importantly, how we know.

Rosa Fazio, Principal, Sir Sandford Fleming Elementary School

Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser’s Spiral of Inquiry framework reflects the importance of relationships, curiosity, trust, examination of biases and assumptions, and high expectations of both learners and ourselves. Embedded in this work is the understanding that Indigenous knowledge systems have positive impacts on learning environments, and that quality education systems require equity for Indigenous learners. I look forward to more educators engaging in this powerful and accessible inquiry process for the benefit of both learners and our larger society.

Jo Chrona, Author of Wayi Wah! Indigenous Pedagogies: An Act for Reconciliation and Indigenous Education

This resource is a valuable tool.... From graduate students engaging in action research, to system teams looking to facilitate change, the Spiral of Inquiry provides both the framework and encouragement to dive deeply into work that can drive change and create environments that nurture equity and quality for all learners.

Melissa McKinney-Lepp, Canadian Teacher Magazine

Among CCBC's Best Books for Kids & Teens 2023, Ideal for Teachers, starred selection of exceptional caliber