Conscious Classroom

Walking into the Early Years inquiry space is always a delight. I’ve noticed that I walk a bit faster and my mind starts swirling with intrigue as I make a beeline for Early Years. Why is that?

  • The Teachers: they are learners. They want to grow and challenge and experiment with ideas. Every – and I mean every – conversation is centered around students and ideas and ways to evolve and illuminate learning.
  • The Space: it is changing. The space reflects thinking.
  • The Energy: it’s electric and alive. You feel like you are under a spell when you are around the students and in their space. You can only be energized from it.
  • The Technology: Seesaw is the best thing out there. The students (3-4 year olds) know more about Seesaw than I do. How good is that! Seesaw in short is a window into the learning. Parents are able to log on and see and read what their child is up to. It is easy to use and provides a central way for all teachers to collaborate and collect evidence of learning. It also provides updates with a weekly summary and breaks down the activity per grade level.capture
  • The Curriculum: We’re making it work for and with the students. Inspired from ISHCMC, we are now looking for learning more naturally and have developed a conscious space for inquiry, curiosity and learning.

Using something that was first germinated through the EE Center at the International School of Ho Chi Minh City, we brought The Water Cycle here to VIS. We’ve blended all 4 units of inquiry as year long units of inquiry. This approach has liberated the learning, been more timely and true to the student’s genuine interest as inquiry learners.


This is our first attempt of documenting the learning and becoming more familiar and confident in making natural curriculum connections. This is our starting point.

Of course, having the Early Years teachers we have they took it a step further and are now documenting the process of learning and the inquiry that emerges naturally.


They have created their own A3 size book to document learning of each student.


Making those connections to the curriculum in it’s most simplest form. This is the best way to ‘learn’ about the PYP.


The teachers are excited about the potential in unlocking the learning. It has created a a conscious culture where everything the students do IS learning. As you can see on the top right of the above photo, each student has their own tab for the teacher to record their observations.

This is why I enjoy being around Early Years. The teachers are interested and engaged. They strive to be the best teachers they can. They are growing and constantly stretching themselves. And let me make this point again and abundantly clear – EVERY conversation is about student learning – EVERY single one!

I would love to be a kid in Early Years, or be a very happy parent if my child was with this exciting team that continues to find ways to evolve.


  1. Jenna

    Hi Chad , I love this child centered approach. This truly allows children to pursue their interests and allows the teacher to become objective observers whilst still meeting the requirements of the PYP as it stands for EY at this time. It opens up much broader learning potential for the child and allows teachers to meet children where they
    are at, resulting in teachers ‘coming to know’ children and planning authentic open ended environments and opportunities to keep children’s curiosity and love of learning alive.
    This approach also shows a teacher who values and trusts that children learn through play. A teacher who respects children’s right to play and creates an environment that allows time and space for it. An environment that reflects and caters for age appropriate behavior which includes mess ,open ended materials, projects that need space to be continued at a later date ,noise and an absolute abundance of social learning. Having taught using this planning model for the last 12 months I can say that I know my students better than I ever have and that the learning that takes place is more holistic and authentic and less ‘contrived’ to meet the ‘curriculum’. Like you say lets make the curriculum work for the students. If there is one thing that is a constant in a young child’s life it is learning.They learn at a rapid rate and in a few short years they have learnt to talk and walk and an absolute plethora of other things. It’s our role to support it, encourage it ,notice it ,name it and celebrate it.
    Your addition of individual water cycle planning sheets is a great idea. One that I shall be implementing come Monday morning !!! I think this step will help making documenting for each child more manageable and also make sure each child is getting acknowledged, noticed and celebrated. I think it will also help TA’s be more involved in the documenting process. We haven’t got Seesaw yet but getting that or Storypark is high on our agenda. Anything that is time efficient and makes documenting easier has to be highly valued. In my humble opinion, the most valuable use of teachers and TA’s time is learning and playing alongside their students, supporting them with social skills development as required (For example : supporting them with solving social conflict as it happens) Being beside students also enables adults to always be available to respond to student needs and provide materials for them to pursue their inquiries, express their imagination and make sense of their world in whatever of the 100 languages that they relate too.

    • Chad Walsh

      Hi Jenna!
      Really good to hear from you and thank you for sharing. Agree with all your points. Would like to see how you go with using the water cycle for each student. Would be a wonderful opportunity to connect our EY teachers here with you. Let me know if you are interested in that – would like to make that happen.

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