This article originally appeared in IB Global News, which provides an array of news and information about IB programmes, professional development and research.
Farhana Bari is the Deputy Head of Primary Education and a Primary Years Programme (PYP) Coordinator at the International School of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She has taught the PYP for 10 years.
Q: What challenges did you overcome when you became a PYP teacher?
In 2003 I began learning the programme myself at the same time as leading its implementation in a highly traditional school setting. This was incredibly challenging. We needed to shift from thematic practices to inquiry approaches to teaching and learning with very limited resources. I had to adapt to a curriculum framework rather than prescribed teaching with text books, and learn to assess the students without giving any scores or grades. Parents also needed support to understand this new pedagogy. Team work and team spirit helped me succeed in this role: our group of enthusiastic teachers and leaders were eager to learn new things, face challenges and support each other in providing better education for our students. Most importantly, my eagerness to learn and practice this programme in the classroom helped me to overcome the challenges.
Q: What tips can you give new PYP educators?
1. Believe in the pedagogy and the philosophy of the programme from your heart.
2. Nurture the IB learner profile attributes to become a more internationally minded person yourself.
3. Make friends with the book “Making the PYP Happen”.
4. Think of yourself as a learner (a researcher) rather than a teacher in the classroom.
5. Keep the students at the centre of your practices by eliminating the word “I” and
adopting the word “we” to encourage team work.
6. Have fun and embrace the ups and downs of the journey!
Q: What do you see as the key strengths of the PYP?
What touches my heart and mind is the programme’s focus on the total growth of the developing child; encompassing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic development. The PYP really guides students to become citizens of the world through building identity and cultural awareness, and equips them for the future. I can see how the students learn both individual and collaborative life skills through the inquiring approaches to teaching and learning in the programme.
Q: Describe your most enriching personal and professional development experience.
Becoming a PYP practitioner has changed both my philosophy and practice of teaching and leadership. I have become less of a teacher, in the traditional sense of the word, and more of an inquirer who must prepare, research and move away from the content of textbooks towards the broader concepts of knowledge and learning. I strongly believe that learning should be at the heart of everything we do, not just academically but also in relation to the behaviours portrayed by ethical and balanced global citizens. The power of learning and working together in teams with students, colleagues, leaders and parents is my most enriching experience in becoming a PYP educator. This programme has opened a door to the world in front of me and I see myself as a global citizen, appreciating the values of being internationally minded.