Tag Archives: PYP

A Room With a View

RoomViewLooking out.

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!

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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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Pioneer Teachers

Turkish Tea with FriendsI’ve been thinking about American teachers of the past, who traveled for days, by stagecoach, or on horseback, across miles of dusty trails, to fulfill a longing to move to a new place, meet a new community and to teach young children. Over the past two weeks I have likely experienced many similar feelings and adjustments. After arriving in Istanbul on August 12, I have begun to explore my new city, I have met an ever-increasing new community of lovely people and I have started to adjust to a new teaching pedagogy in hopes that I will be able to ensure a lifetime love of learning to my young students. It’s been so completely overwhelming to all of my senses, my head’s been spinning since I got here!

Istanbul is all (and more!) that I remember it to be from my travels here in 2011. I live in the neighborhood of Ulus, in Ortakoy, a beautiful, historically rich environment full of new sights, new tastes and smells, new sounds and new textures. My legs are getting stronger every day from walking up miles of marble stairs and down long, winding, brick roadways. This host country is fascinating beyond belief and I’m guessing the two years of my contract will pass quickly. I fear there won’t be enough time to see it all.

Upon my brisk arrival, and clearance through customs, at the Ataturk Airport at 7:00 pm, I was wisked away to deliver my belongings into my lovely, furnished apartment. After dumping my containers inside the door and having a quick look around, a small group of us set off on an excursion that took us to the edge of the Bosphorus. It was dreamlike. Bouncing lights off the bridge, rushing taxis on the narrow streets, wafting fragrances from street vendors and hearing strange dialects all around me caused a swarming, full force, into my sleep-starved head.

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The quick motion never stopped. I was transported through various experiences, in full sensory overload for days, meeting people of many nations, testing my tongue to this new language, and adopting a new style of teaching art to a group of children outside my experience realm.

I am happy. I’ve been dreaming of this experience for years, never quite understanding how dramatically new and exciting it would be. I had to experience it, and now I’m living it. These are things I’ve already learned that I want to share:

  • Fill your days with happiness.
  • Go so far out of your comfort zone that you have no choice but to become dependent on others.
  • Have an open heart and an open mind to endless possibilities.
  • Consider opinions that are very different from your own and that you previously hadn’t.
  • Listen to people’s stories.
  • Let people help you.
  • Learn to be friends with people very different from you.
  • Learn what people from other countries think of your country.

I’m learning about all these things. Thanks for traveling with me.

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