Learner and parent voice in the PYP Self-Study

Since the start of the 2019-20 academic year, PYP teachers have actively reflected, planned and taken action as part of the PYP self-study. As the reauthorization visit from the Council of International Schools (CIS), New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and the International Baccalaureate Organization (IB) approaches in February 2021, we reflect on the empowered voices that collaboratively contributed to our reflective process to further embody our Vision and Mission.

As our learning moved virtual, so did our PYP self-study. In the PYP, we had a plan to invite parents and students to various groups in May 2020 to share reflections, perspectives and ideas. Displaying MIS agility, Ms. Helen and I moved this plan virtual in September and October this year by inviting learners and parents to engage in this process via Google Meets. Looking at the four general areas of our self-study – collaboration, curriculum, learning and teaching and assessment – we asked questions and listened to three groups from our community of learners to add their voices to the self-study.

First, we met with small yet diverse groups of learners from P3, P4, and P5 to gain a current perspective. Next, we met with a small group of parents representing different grades. Finally, we met with a small group of MYP1 and MYP2 to gain a broader perspective as they reminisced on their learning in primary. The notes from these meetings were shared with teachers who integrated their voices into our PYP self-study documents and action plans.

As a celebration of our strengths, here are a few voices highlighted in each area. Please note the following are paraphrased from our conversations.

CollaborationPYP learners: We work in groups and we help make the groups. We choose what to inquiry into after a modeled inquiry. Sometimes we can work on the central idea – the teachers sometimes say we give better ideas, and we feel great and involved. We also know our teachers plan together – have seen them at Starbucks!
MYP learners: We collaborated very often and with new people, not just with our friends. This helped us become more open-minded.
PYP parents: The teachers always ask for parents to come in as guest speakers and share their knowledge with the class. We appreciate that the school reaches out to parents and involves them.
CurriculumPYP learners: The daily plans tell us what we are going to do that day and about our learning.
MYP learners: We had the chance to co-construct lines of inquiry and to extend these with our ideas. It was interesting as we had could include our interests.
PYP parents: The school uses the weekly updates, unit flyers, weekly newsletter, blogs, and parent workshops. These are all good and helpful!
Learning and teaching
PYP learners: We enjoy research, writing stories, choice of time and how long I do things, inquire more if I want to and choice times. Some of our favorite resources are: whiteboards, the sandpit and sand toys, the swimming pool, Khan academy, and the stationery.
MYP learners: The teachers realized that we were all different – the way we worked and reflected were different. They changed their teaching based on this.
PYP parents: The school is diverse with people from around the world. We get lots of information from school. The learning is fun, full of choices and with the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.
Assessment PYP learners: We self-assess ourselves with exit tickets, reflections and  peer reflections too by saying what is good and what needs to be fixed.
MYP learners: In the PYP, every week we had goal setting and this was based on MAP scores. We made goals, would work on them and review them in three-way conferences.
PYP parents: We know how our children are progressing in school through report cards, Seesaw comments, teacher feedback and the 3-way conferences.  

Although these are important points of celebration, we also gathered great suggestions and ideas for actions to move us forward on our PYP journey. We appreciate and value this collaboration with our empowered community of learners!

Carla Swinehart

PYP Coordinator