Reflections on a professional development workshop

My school had an in-house workshop yesterday and today, called “Making the PYP happen in the classroom”. While this is the title of a regional workshop, the in-school one was similar, just met the needs of the school more.

It was facilitated by a lovely woman from the International School of Modena, Jane.

Friday:

The focus for the workshop had been set to planning a unit of inquiry using the PYP tool and collaborative planning. On Friday morning we all came together, including the Music and Italian teachers and the secretary of the school. Eight of us to work on becoming a better team and better at teaching the PYP.

We started off with an activity where we had to tell the person next to us one thing they did not know about us, and one thing we wanted to learn from the workshop, take away from it, so to speak. It was one of those activities where you cannot get started, but eventually we did. I worked with D and she only speaks very little English, so that was a challenge in itself. I told her something about me and what I wanted to take away from the workshop and she told me something about herself. It was quite interesting to hear something about her, as we do not know each other that well at all.
This led us to explore team-building, effective teams and our differences. Very amazing approach to all of this. We used further strategies including:
– The paper clip problem-solving activity
– Jigsaw reading and
– Visualising our understanding.

Through using teaching strategies that are very encouraged by the PYP, we got to experience them and see where the advantages lie, but also where we have to be careful as teachers.
I was very active and forthcoming all day, my usual bubbly self. Towards lunch we had to explain what type of person we are and that was a real challenge, but I liked the way I did describe myself. I certainly showed that I am very reflective, confident, aware of strengths and weaknesses and a life-long learner. It was good to see how others described themselves and we learnt more about ourselves and the others that way.
Just then I had realised that with every activity I had been the first one to start and engage, so I deliberately waited later on.

In the afternoon there was an activity where the teams, two groups of four, had to work with a piece of literature: A text without any text. Illustrations only. My teams task was to add thought bubbles to the text, in Italian. As the only non-Italian speaker in my group, this was a challenge. I found it very hard to engage in the dialogue, I had to push myself to ask for translations and to pass on my input. It was a bit discouraging and it really made me tired. So this way I learnt how those children with EAL in my class feel, but also how my non-English speaking colleagues feel. It was a hard situation.
Also noteable was how many different perspectives we had, a simple picture and so many interpretations. That is also something to consider when teaching.

Then we started planning a unit of inquiry. The approach was very new to me, starting with brainstorming the central idea, relating it to the transdisciplinary theme, etc. I will not go into this here but will document the process later on in detail.

It was an amazing day and after exploring diversity and roles in teams further, we broke off and I went home happy and fulfilled.

Saturday:

When I got to school this morning I was quite tired and exhausted, I had not slept very well. This also influenced the way I perceived the morning a little bit.
It was lovely to be back, no complaints about learning on a Saturday, and I was looking forward to it.

I knew it would be a heavier day, and we started off by looking at an A3 copy of the unit planner and identified where certain pages in MTPYPH were. It was certainly obvious that we all need to work with it a lot more, and in the next few weeks I will assign pages to read and then discuss like a book club. I need to think about this in more detail though!

Anyway, after that we continued on with planning the Waste unit from the day before further and then broke into two teams in which we planned our own unit of inquiry. We chose one we had not planned and taught before. It was an interesting approach to link all the different elements, and to work so collaboratively. I was engaged and very motivated about the unit by the end of it. This was because I had developed a great understanding of it, we could exchange ideas and express fears and uncertainties. Very good work this was.

Now, more happened today but I am getting tired to write about it.
I loved the two team-building, problem-solving activities today. Need to do them in my class!
Cheerio for now!

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