Nothing warms the soul of a parent or brings a smile to a teacher than when they see the eyes of a child light up when the child has finally understood an idea. And the icing on the cake is when the child has done the learning/inquiry on their own or with minimal guidance. And this notion of inquiry is part of what the Middle Years Programme, or MYP, embraces. A sense of ownership and independent learning is at the heart of the IB Philosophy and one of the reasons that EARJ adopted this programme.
MYP is part of the IB continuum that provides programmes to support the development of students as they “…build on their personal strengths and embrace challenges in subjects in which they might not excel.”. (MYP: From principles into practice, pg 3).
Knowing what the philosophy of the IB is and what the MYP programme is designed to do, it is with a great deal of excitement that we became coordinators for the MYP. To be able to share our understanding of the program with our respective staff, students, and parents and to be able to see it implemented is a true gift.
As our journey began a two day workshop for all of our teachers was held at each campus. During this time teachers were introduced to the MYP and some of the overarching elements. As our journey continued in Semester I, a representative from each subject department attended a subject-specific workshop as part of the preparation for the first unit of inquiry. Upon completion of the workshop, information gained was shared with members of each department. The unit of inquiry is currently being piloted in Grade 6 and 7.
Criteria based assessment will also be implemented as part of the new framework. Students will be assessed, not by standards but rather by conceptual understanding. This is another component of the MYP that represents a significant shift in the way we teach, assess and record students´ progress.
Another facet of the unit plan is the Approaches to Learning (ATL) which can be thought of as `tools for learning`. These ATL skills will be tailored to meet the specific needs of students in each subject and grade level. ATL skills focus on the process of learning, helping students to become confident, independent, self-managing learners for life. (MYP: From principles into practice, pg 65).
Each campus has held an online introduction presentation for parents to introduce them to the MYP and begin to prepare them for a new approach to teaching and learning. Subsequent presentations will be offered to help parents understand other facets of the MYP programme and the changes that will occur.