Years ago, a friend of mine told me that one of her favorite things about teaching was that every year, you got to start over. It was, for her, refreshing to begin each year anew and have the flexibility to discard lessons, material or projects that, perhaps, didn’t have the impact on her students that she’d hoped for. Not only is it satisfying to wrap up a well-worked school year, but also to begin a new school year, with new faces, ideas and new materials. This gives hope to all that can possibly be. A cheerful and well-designed learning environment has the potential to sprout all sorts of learning, for student and teacher alike.
For weeks I’ve been designing my new classroom and trying to make good use of the permanent fixtures that I’ve inherited. My classroom is solid. It has marble floors, concrete walls, heavy wooden tables and chairs, two stainless steel sinks and an entire wall of natural light windows that looks upon the beautiful hills of Ortakoy, the neighborhood that I live in. I’ve tried different arrangements of the furniture, put up new PYP (Primary Years Program) “Wonder Wall” bulletin boards and my “Essential Agreements” and I’ve organized new and plentiful art materials. It is my hope that this room will help breath creative life into all the sweet souls that enter this space this year. Have a look at my classroom!
The PYP pedagogy is structured and precise. In the few weeks that I’ve been here, I’m fortunate to have been able to go through two different 3-and-4 day workshops, facilitated by leaders of the program. However, sitting in a room learning how to implement the PYP is one thing and actually doing it in front of many smiling and eager, young faces, is entirely something else. The philosophy of educating the child is robust and challenging and is nothing like the teaching methods I’ve always used in the United States. The International Baccalaureate, of which the PYP is a part of, is a rigorous and long-studied program that requires specific training and implementation. Once you’ve been trained, however, and once you’ve got some classroom experience, I understand there are no limits as to where and what you can do as an educator. On the International Baccalaureate website , this is the summary of the program:
…programs for students aged 3 to 19 help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.
This method of learning is based on inquiry, or being curious about the world. Conceptual strategies help prepare the learner to find new methods of solving problems. Questions such as, “how does this work?”, “how do you know?”, and “what else is there to discover?” are samples of the many kinds of questions that are posed to my students. They are taught to always question and to dig for answers. What are you curious about?
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