Starting the school year off slowly – putting PYP enhancements into practice

Tarryn asked how teachers were using the PYP enhancements to guide planning. So here’s what the first few days of school look like.

The learner

Take time each day to greet and ask about their day.

The children will design a layout for the learning space and move the furniture. Setting up the learning space together enables the children to:

  • Get to know each other better.
  • Be active co-constructors of the space.

A photo scavenger hunt to find places around the school – more fun than the traditional ‘back to school tour’ where children walk in lines behind the teacher.

Asking the learners what they need from their first week of school – what must, should, could we do?

A very detailed learner survey – from everything to their friendships through to what they do when they get stuck on a maths problem.

Weekly Whakataukī – each year I find a whakataukī (proverb)  to guide our actions that we turn into a large piece of collaborative art. This year I would like the learners to find a proverb from their own background to guide us each week that we will discuss in circle time.

Learning and Teaching – how we organize ourselves

Essential agreement – with a very clear focus on why we have an essential agreement. The process of making the agreement will also include our specialist teachers to ensure we are all ‘on the same page.’

Digital citizenship – our learners start bringing in their own devices at Year 6. Instead of heavy-handed ‘dos and don’ts’ we will have a digital citizenship exhibition with our parents three weeks into the term. The exhibition will be planned by the learners.

Taking it easy on ‘start of year assessments’ – I trust the previous teacher’s judgment but also accept kids grow and change over the summer. There’s also a number of children that might benefit from the opportunity to start the school year with a clean slate.

The Learning Community

Welcome video to the parents as well as an invitation to start the conversation off with their observations, hopes, and dreams about their child.

We also have a year group Instagram for daily updates along with another 1second a day video to document learning and growth over the year.

As part of the digital citizenship exhibition, I suggested that children organize a shared breakfast for the exhibition to develop our community. A literal translation of the whakataukī I will share with the learners on Monday: nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou
ka ora ai te iwi  -with your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive.

If I were to encapsulate all the actions into one word, I would choose time.

All too often the start of the year is about rushing from icebreakers, through assessments,  setting up programmes and units of inquiry in order to ‘get started with rela learning.’  Yet getting to know each other and how we will work as a team, is real learning!

How are you planning to start school in a way that honours voice, choice and builds community?

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