A few years back Sam and I ran a 1 day workshop and 4 days of demonstration lessons at Mt. Scopus College in Melbourne, Australia. The format was very different to the usual ‘run of the mill’ workshops or conferences which most of us have become accustomed to.
Since then, Lana Fleiszig has developed a strong relationship with ISHCMC for a few years now and naturally, we thought it made perfect sense to bring her to VIS too.
The value and impact was immediate and she instantly drew in our teachers. Lana said it best when she referred to herself as ‘the provocation.’ And that is what she did, she stirred up our thinking, added to our evolving inquiry culture and inspired us to continue the amazing work she did for the week she was with us.
The power and value in hosting in-house professional learning is obvious. We all could learned together, we all got on the same page and we are all finding ways to strengthen our practice through her ideas and knowledge.
We are sending 4 teachers to Shanghai to complete Making the PYP Happen. They will fly to Shanghai, be part of the workshops and then, snap – it’s done. A huge amount of investment and resources funneled into 4 people. A week with Lana (in-house) meant that 28 teachers and 19 Instructional Assistants were all touched. I know which basket to put all (or most) our eggs in.
So how did we take the learning to the next level after Lana left?
Using Inquiry Moves (see below), each teacher selected 1 that they wanted to develop. They now have three weeks to collaborate with those people (outside of their teams) and then share back to the group. This is just one step of many we plan to develop and strengthen.
This is how we are developing an inquiry culture at VIS. This is just the beginning. We have big plans to bring Lana back and take us through the next cycle of inquiry learning t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r!
I have been to many schools and have worked with many different people, mostly people from Western countries. Where I am working now, is totally different in every way. I am in Africa. A Kenyan school with international standards.
Above is a photo of my teaching partner. His name is Martin and he is a Kenyan. He is a true gentleman. Martin will always greet people and acknowledge everyone he meets. He really loves kids and he is great at what he does. Martin is an excellent mathematics teacher. He is consistent. Martin is a listener and observer.
I want to share a story with you about our relationship. It is worth telling. Martin is wise. He says things as they are (respectfully) and always asks, “how does this add value to learning.” Something I really admire in him. This post is actually more of a selfish post to record my own learning, because I have much to learn from Martin.
This story is an obvious one to tell. It’s a story where you will easily predict the outcome. It’s something we all know about, but may not practice it. It is a story that has allowed me to step back, take some time to think and clear some head space to reflect on how I approach things, in the African context.
Martin and I are totally different, in every way. Where we are from, our experiences, our background. Martin and I have had a very ‘bumpy’ start to our year. There has been frustration and tension between us for many reasons. Today, Martin come to my room and shared something really obvious, but I had not realized it myself.
Martin said, “You know so much about PYP. I cannot come up to your level. You need to come to my level if we are ever going to make this work.” He explained how I have come from a place and system that is efficient and effective. Things have always just worked well.
When you add these things to someone who is a ‘driver’ by nature it is really easy to become frustrated. Especially when things don’t work the way you see it and at the pace it should be. We were not seeing the same things, we were like two of the same magnets resisting each other.
This diagram best represents how we have been working together…frankly it hasn’t been working like it should.
I was struck by lightening as Martin was sharing with me. I have been spinning so fast lately, that I did not see something I would of normally have been mindful of. Pluralism – is an AKAM strand and I had failed to see it, and it was right in front of me.
Martin explained how he has been to Europe and how he enjoyed the way things just flowed and worked there. Coming back to Africa was difficult for him as there is less order and organization. He could understand why I was behaving and reacting the way I have been.
He said “Chad, we need to go from the bottom up. It is the only way for us to move forward together.” His message was so wise, clear and accurate. It made complete sense of why things have been so challenging for us. We have been pushing from opposite ends.
This visual come to me as Martin was waving his hands from bottom to top. Here was an international teacher, imparting open-mindedness, appreciation, tolerance, respect….. to students, but had failed to recognize it myself.
Again, I realize how obvious this story is. In all of its simplicity, it brought me clarity and I connected with Martin today. I know that our relationship will be different tomorrow, because we shared this moment together. I may know a lot of PYP knowledge… Martin, taught me how to live it today. Thank you, Martin!