Saturday, October 19, 2019

School Visits as Professional Learning

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a comprehensive and complex program. All those in candidate and authorized schools participate in professional development that assists them in deepening their understanding of this international program. Being able to visit other PYP schools is a rich form of professional learning that all Pedagogical Leadership Teams should consider when building their five-year PYP action plans.

Last spring, I had the great fortune of visiting a couple of different PYP schools. These visits helped me better understand the diverse ways of implementing the PYP and gave me ideas that we potentially could use at my own school.

In March 2019, on a personal trip to Germany, I was able to visit the Berlin Cosmopolitan School. About a month later in April, I visited a couple of PYP schools just up the road from where I live in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, USA. During these visits, I was able to engage with other PYP professionals and see the PYP in action, giving me ideas of how we could further develop the PYP in my own school. See photos below from both of those visits.


Later in the school year, I took a team with me to visit schools implementing two math curricular resources we were looking to adopt. In addition to learning extensively about the resources on our own and having teachers try out the materials at our school, visiting schools where experienced teachers could demonstrate the resources' full potential was some of the best professional learning we experienced during our curriculum review process.

Whether you're in a PYP school or not, visiting schools both near and far allows you to see how others "do school". School visits must be an essential part of any school's professional learning plan.




The leaders at the Berlin Cosmopolitan School generously hosted us for several hours during a school day to show us around and allowed us to meet with teachers.



Berlin Cosmopolitan School's vision and mission signage stands out with the inclusion of students' artistic interpretations.

Berlin Cosmopolitan School's principal Mark Johnson told us that students walk a couple of blocks to this adventure playground that may seem a little bit more dangerous that a typical playground, but gives its students the opportunity to assess risk for themselves and shows them they can keep themselves safe.

The following photos show flexible seating in one of the classrooms at Stevenson Elementary in Fridley, Minnesota, USA. Students in Andrea Erichsrud's classroom have lots of seating options as they learn during the school day.







Thank you to Orlando Pola-Rivera, PYP Coordinator at the Berlin Cosmopolitan School in Berlin Germany for hosting me and letting me sit in on one of his collaborative team meetings. I also greatly appreciate Veronica Westerman, PYP Coordinator of Stevenson Elementary in Fridley, Minnesota, USA who not only hosted me during the visit but also sent me the pictures above when I neglected to take my own on the visit.

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