I’ve been saving a post by Seth Godin in an open tab ever since first reading it, presumably for right now. It’s the night before I start a new job1. Nerves, butterflies, whatever you want to call it… it’s all for a reason.
The unknowable path
…might also be the right one.
The fact that your path is unknowable may be precisely why it’s the right path.
The alternative, which is following the well-lit path, offers little in the way of magic.
If you choose to make art, you are no longer following. You are making.
1As of tomorrow, I’ll be the founding director of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning at Ridgefield Academy in Ridgefield, CT. It’s a great opportunity, a big move for the family, and it’s all terribly exciting.
I’ve been trying to come up with talking points for expanding our lower school STEM initiative into a broader K-8 program, and, as my previous post gave away, hopefully re-framing it into more of a holistic approach to both technology integration and the intersection of those specific subjects into the rest of the curriculum. Moving this program into our middle school is going to be a challenge because we’re not only expanding past self-contained classrooms for a bell schedule and roving packs of students, but also because we’re now looking at eight separate disciplines of the IB Middle Years Program instead of cross-curricular Program of Inquiry in the Primary Years Program. Yesterday, I noticed that all four of the new program models released earlier this year have Approaches to Teaching in the concentric circle closer to the learner. This felt like opportunity to re-center the discussion around how we teach instead of what we teach, if only I could find more information about what the IB’s definition of Approaches to Teaching actually meant.
PYP: “The three components of the PYP curriculum cycle (written, taught and assessed) nowembodied in Approaches to Teaching, aligns with MYP, DP and IBCC programmes. It
reinforces the PYP pedagogy of authentic learning that is inquiry-based and conceptually
MYP: “Approaches to teaching—this emphasizes the MYP pedagogy, including collaborative, authentic learning through inquiry.”
DP: “Approaches to teaching and learning are included in the inner circle of the model demonstrating the DP’s commitment to particular pedagogical approaches to teaching and to developing particular skills for learning.”
IBCC: There isn’t anything that specifically addresses Approaches to Teaching in that document.
At least in the PYP and MYP, which coincidentally happen to be the grades we’re looking to expand our STEM push throughout, there is a focus on inquiry and authentic learning being at the heart of teaching and learning (though I must admit to being a bit discouraged at not only the lack of information but also the lack of standardization of how Approaches to Teaching – or is that Approaches to teaching? – is treated as formal terminology, and how the Diploma Program seems to only give it a passing glance). It sure sounds as though if we keep doing what we’re already meant to be doing, we shouldn’t need to reinvent the wheel. This doesn’t have to become something where our lower school and middle school teams (and high school beyond them) need to fuss with criteria, transitions, and formalizing something new, and it instead can help us focus on the intersections of subjects and how we purposefully incorporate technology, not to serve any particular disciplines but instead because it’s how we want our students to learn.
If programmatic differences aren’t going to be a problem in widespread adoption of our STEM initiative (or any other initiative to come down the road), I think we’re going to need to redefine success. In broad strokes, we should be able to identify the outcomes that we expect our teaching and learning to conform to and define how a student at our school will learn on a daily basis and trust that we’re already doing a good enough job meeting our program criteria to remove that as our daily foci. “Students are encouraged to create something every day” or “Every classroom will be a safe space to learn from mistakes” or even “Each unit of study will sit at the intersection of at least three subjects” might be better ways to measure success on a school-wide level than referring to any bulleted list of standards to adhere to, especially when we’re supposed to be doing that anyway. How else can you make the transition from a school that meets requirements to a school that transforms what teaching and learning looks like?
So… any IB educators care of weigh in on the definition of Approaches to Teaching? Or is this simply too broad (and important) to be contained in just one part of a model of learning?