This post is adapted from an article I wrote for my school’s newsletter.
As I write, I am enjoying the view from my new office, looking across to the PYP Building. After having spent last year housed in the PYP Building and working with PYP teachers as their Coordinator, I return to the MYP with a whole new perspective. The extent to which my sojourn in the PYP transformed my understanding of the MYP really hit home last week at the Grades 6 and 7 retreat. I spent most of the retreat with the Grade 6 students, the same group I got to guide through the PYP Exhibition last spring. In one workshop, we discussed some of the similarities and differences between the PYP and MYP. Our conclusion: The programmes are essentially the same, but just like the Grade 6 students are more sophisticated versions of their Grade 5 selves, the differences between the two programmes reflect the evolving abilities and needs of students as they mature.
My time in the PYP also taught me to think differently about collaboration amongst teachers. It was such a privilege to work with the PYP teachers in their Program of Inquiry review, a reflective process in which all the PYP teachers work together to refine each individual unit to ensure it is part of a cohesive whole. Because the MYP consists of eight distinct subject areas, rather than interdisciplinary units of inquiry, as in the PYP, the process is a bit more complex. Nevertheless, the MYP staff embarked on that journey during our back-to-school meetings. In a flurry of colour-coded paper, we mapped out the entire program to ensure that students at all grades will enjoy a balanced variety of units and that they will develop their conceptual understanding consistently throughout the five years they spend in the MYP.
‘Student-centred learning’ is a major focus in education these days. While most teachers understand this within their own classroom, I see now that the structure of IB programmes promotes student-centred learning in multiple ways. By promoting collaboration amongst teachers, both the PYP and MYP ensure that a cohesive and comprehensive student experience is the focus of all curriculum planning. Moreover, the particularities of each program ensure that the curriculum is delivered in a way that is developmentally appropriate for students as they mature.