It was the first time I had led a ‘Making the PYP Happen’ workshop and it was for teachers at my own school, so I approached the planning with a strong sense of responsibility. How would I ensure the workshop was valuable and would impact on practice?
MTPYPH is a workshop for teachers new to the PYP and its name describes it. The purpose of the workshop is to support participants, not just in understanding the principles and practices of the PYP, but in actually ‘making it happen’ for themselves and their students in their own particular learning environments.
The philosophy and underpinning principles of the PYP correlate closely with my school’s beliefs about learning. One of our new teachers (with a background in PYP schools) said ‘ The difference is that you LIVE the PYP here’. I’ve thought a lot about what that means! It means we go beyond fulfilling requirements and ticking boxes. It means we are not afraid to question or challenge the aspects that are less compatible with our beliefs. It means we constantly reflect on how best to make it meaningful in our context.
So planning the recent workshop, with my colleague Joc, included thoughtful consideration of how to take it ‘beyond the book’ and make it relevant and thought provoking. We wanted to focus on the big ideas in order to help the teachers make connections between the separate elements.
This unit map was helpful in pulling the elements together and went far beyond the original intention (as learning experiences do when the learners take control!) The teachers changed the directions of the arrows and added their own as they realised connections and developed new understandings. This led to ideas for how to improve and develop the unit map for future use.
The workshop focused on inquiry, concept driven learning and constructivism. Teachers explored the PYP curriculum model and essential elements through the lenses of these big ideas, by inquiring, focusing on big ideas and constructing meaning themselves, both collaboratively and through individual reflection.
It’s been gratifying to hear them reflect on the shifts they are already making…
- What I previously saw as disasters, I now recognise as opportunities for learning.
- I’m realising that the less I talk, the more students do and learn.
- I’m not planning the learning in advance so much. I’m allowing the learning in each lesson to shape further learning.
- I’m accepting that learning is messy and realising that students are not all on the same learning path.
- I’m not so stressed about ticking boxes and completing tasks. The learning is more organic as I hand over more to the kids.
- I’m stepping back a bit, allowing the students to lead more, reflecting more as a teacher…
- Relinquishing control, choosing intentional questions so the children can have more ownership of learning.
- Providing more opportunities for student choice.
- More opportunities for problem solving and collaborative thinking.
- Trying to make more connections across different learning areas.
- I’m reflecting more with my class on the learning.
- I’m allowing myself to be more of a messy learner, pursuing my own learning and developing the bigger picture of the whole child.
Seems like they ARE making the PYP happen.