Educators sure do love their acronyms.
Over the new year I made from the transition from the New Zealand curriculum (NZC) in the southern hemisphere to the Primary Years Programme (PYP) the northern hemisphere school. Within a few short weeks I went from ending one year straight into the middle of the next one.
Making the jump to a new country with a new curriculum has its challenges especially as I have also taken over another teacher’s class halfway through the year.
Which is why I’m glad I found the jump into the PYP not the huge a leap. At its heart both curriculums are driven by inquiry learning. There are some some little differences. Where I might in the past have talked about key competencies I now talk about the IB learner profile. Trans-disciplinary themes are new facet to get my head around and I often find myself using some of the language of the NZC. The PYP codifies a lot more of the concepts present in the NZC for instance the think, reflect, act cycle give a conceptual framework for the key competencies in the NZC. I also have enjoyed watching the process of the PYP exhibition which the Year 6 classes have been engaged in from a distance..
The PYP exhibition is the culmination of the PYP where kids get a chance to showcase their learning to the broader community. As a bystander, it has been fantastic to watch the growth that has occurred in the Year 6 students. The exhibition is in this regard a coming of age ritual. I enjoyed seeing the interactions that the students had not just with kids in other parts of the school but different schools in Singapore and even some from abroad. The possibility of learner-initiated action is something that I find fascinating and will enjoy developing more in the future.
So one term in and I’m finding my feet slowly. As I look back, I feel that moving away from my country of training has given me an opportunity to really think about what’s important to me an as an educator.
Relationships – Starting a class halfway through the year there was a strong temptation to get down to the business of learning and forgo all the class culture building that occurs at the beginning of the year. However kids don’t learn effectively from people they don’t like and more importantly they don’t learn from people they don’t trust. As the term came to an end, I’m glad I spent the time getting to know my kids. My relationship with my students’ families are a lot closer now through virtue of the kids being a bit younger and also many of the families have a parent not working outside the home.
Restorative – Out of all the PD I’ve done in my teaching career, the one that sticks with me is the restorative practices workshop. I’ve come from a school where restorative practices are the norm and it’s something I will carry with me throughout my career. I like the warm yet demanding approach and find the quiet no-nonsense problem solving with kids far more effective than punishments and rewards. Often a few quiet questions is what is needed rather than a punishment. What’s the impact of your actions on others? How can you put things right?
Authenticity – Getting kids to walk their own path and do their own thinking. During an end of term inquiry one of my students remarked that it would be a whole lot easier if I just told the kids what to do rather than asking them to think of ways to show evidence of learning. Too often we confuse schooling with education. Some of our students can become quite adept at gaming the school system often at the expense of deeper learning. We need to be mindful that if our kids walk out of school successful in assessment but hating learning we’ve all done something wrong.
What’s been interesting is that technology has fallen off the list. That isn’t to say that I’m not loving having access to devices. However now the more access my learners have to technology, the less important it becomes to me and I can get on with focusing on learning.
So a busy term and as you can see from the lack of weekly reflections, a busy one.