Tagged: making the pyp happen

Being a PYP Teacher Part 1: Carry the Book

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The 1st, 50th, 500th and 5000th step required in order to become a PYP Teacher – because this is a never-ending process – is to carry a copy of Making the PYP Happen with you at all times.

Don’t go to any planning meetings without a copy of Making the PYP Happen. Instead, always have it with you so that you can:

  • refer to it for guidance as you strive to make your planning purposeful
  • refer to it to remind you of the five essential elements of the PYP
  • refer to it for ways to make learning rich in possibilities
  • refer to it so that you can ensure you really are educating the “whole child”
  • refer to it so that you understand why, how and what to assess
  • refer to it to seek clarity and the eloquent description of learning in its various forms
  • refer to it so you can become familiar with how education is changing, and has been changing since 2009

Whenever I ask people where their copy of Making the PYP Happen is, in lots of schools, the responses frequently vary between:

  • “Oh, I have one somewhere”
  • “Umm… I have a digital copy, I think”
  • “Yep, it’s on my laptop. Let me just load it up”
  • “I don’t know where it is”
  • “Ha ha ha, I don’t keep one with me all the time!”

These responses are indicative of a school culture in which reference to the most important guiding document has not become a habit. This makes it a thousand times less likely that people will know what it says, and then this makes it 1000 times less likely that people will be able to make it happen.

Naturally, the reverse of this is equally true.

So, go on. Find your copy, or get one printed if you don’t have one (digital just ain’t good enough, my friend) and take it with you to all planning sessions. Having it there for reference, for inspiration and for guidance will empower you as you seek to become a better and better PYP Teacher.

I just hope that the enhanced PYP doesn’t bring with it the removal of this amazing resource. In fact, I hope it brings quite the opposite.

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Aligning our beliefs with PYP beliefs

The main aim of the language arts presentations was to get a good understanding of our current beliefs and practices about language teaching and learning so that we can look at how they compare with PYP philosophy.

One of the main constants in every team’s presentations was a belief in “integration”, “transdisciplinary teaching” and “language as a vehicle for inquiry” (see the images below).

These beliefs are clearly aligned with the first two sections of the incredibly helpful chart on p. 71 of “Making the PYP Happen:

So, the next step is to see if our practices are just as aligned as our beliefs. The plan is to do this through planning sessions using this diagram from page 4 of the Language Scope and Sequence Document:

We will do this in the planning session following the initial planning of the unit of inquiry by which the following would normally have been covered:

  • Cross-examination and clarification of the central idea
  • Outlining desired conceptual understandings
  • Consensus on assessment tools and/or strategies

At this point, it is appropriate to look at what receptive language will be needed/developed in the unit for students to receive and process information, and the expressive language that will be needed/developed in the unit or students to express their understanding. The outcome of this should be:

  • Clear transdisciplinary links between the unit and language, i.e. language as a genuine “vehicle for inquiry”
  • Clear areas for stand-alone focus
  • Clear direction for skills development
  • Clear focus for Learning Support and ESL Teachers