While I have always continued to learn within my own area of expertise - education, I haven’t travelled too far out of my subject comfort zone for quite some time. So when I recently began a business course I found myself in the place that we hope our students find themselves in every day – the zone of proximal development (ZPD). I mentioned the ZPD in my last eNews article also referring to it as the Goldilocks principle which dictates that tasks must not be easy, or so hard the learner gives up, rather they should be pitched at just the right level to stretch students and optimise learning.
As I reflect on how the experience of being a learner felt, I must admit that it was not always comfortable, and so with my renewed appreciation of our students who face learning challenges every day, I want to discuss (and celebrate) the learner within the context of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP).
The PYP curriculum framework begins with the premise that PYP students are agents of their own learning and partners in the learning process.
We expect our students to actively engage in the learning process through posing questions, wondering and inquiring. The prior knowledge each student brings to their learning is seen as valuable with teachers helping children to share their understandings and to build upon their knowledge base.
Assessments play a major role in helping teachers and students to track student progress and set next steps for learning. Assessments establish where each child is at the beginning of the unit of work, how they are progressing through the unit (formative assessment) and how their knowledge, skills and understandings have grown by the end of the unit (summative assessment).
As children grow and develop in their understanding of themselves as learners, teachers slowly release more responsibility for their learning to them. These emergent identities and competencies create a vibrant learning community as well as set children up to be life-long learners.
Ms Angela Whitaker
Deputy Principal (Head of Junior School)