A Snapshot of Our PYP Journey

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Sekolah Yayasan Pendidikan Jayawijaya, Kuala Kencana, Papua

by Sandra Beardmore, PYP Coordinator.

(There were many aspects of change, program and school development as we travelled the road to PYP Accreditation, I share a small slice in this article.)

In 2012 Sekolah YPJ, Kuala Kencana, Papua, became an IB PYP Candidate School and began its unlikely journey as an Indonesian National School to become a fully accredited IB PYP School. Unlikely because we were compelled to deliver the Indonesian National Curriculum, all our teaching staff are Indonesian teachers with no International or PYP experience and the language of instruction is Bahasa Indonesia. Traditional content and pedagogies were the norm, one could say a fixed mindset, and the concepts of homeroom teachers and inquiry based learning, unfamiliar. It was a very ambitious goal requiring an enormous amount of change. Was a marriage, a union, a fusion between these two disparate approaches to education possible? It seemed akin to mixing oil and water, but we took the positive approach of looking for possibilities, connections and solutions rather than getting caught up in the potential trap of “impossibilities”. We resolved to “Make the PYP Happen” in our school.

At every turn there was new learning, new language, adaptation and challenge. Ongoing and consistent professional development and a team approach were key ingredients. A willingness to embrace change was an essential component to building capacity for all staff. But even small changes can be confronting and we were embarking on large scale changes in many facets of teaching and learning, leadership and school organisation. To facilitate such change, developing a sense of partnership, trust and collaboration cannot be given enough emphasis. A team of Expat educators worked alongside the elementary (SD) teaching and leadership teams to develop a plan of action, organise and present ongoing professional development workshops about aspects of the PYP, build teamwork at various levels and develop a culture of collaboration. It has been a very steep learning curve for all, a curve we continue on, albeit more gradual now.

In terms of program we began with the National Curriculum 2006 with the Kompetensi Inti, Kompetensi Dasar, set subjects, set amounts of time per subject and so on, quite a prescription. There were no indicators to give an idea of what the Kompetensi Dasar might translate to in terms of program content, scope and sequence of subjects across grade levels. The subjects were isolated islands and we needed to connect them conceptually within the framework of the PYP. Indicators for each curriculum area were developed over time and mapped across the 6 Transdisciplinary Themes. From the various contexts of the themes and the mapped curriculum content we worked collaboratively to create our first units of inquiry. During the process teachers were learning how to write central ideas and lines of inquiry. They attached key concepts, Learner Profiles and Attitudes, and identified the Transdisciplinary skills which would support student learning. Implementation was a trial and error process and planning sessions involved reflective conversations around successes, failures, frustrations, pedagogy and strategies. It was challenging to say the least. Of course, there were degrees of resistance, but there was also enthusiasm and commitment. For change to be sustainable it has to be done gradually over time, celebrating successes and breakthroughs no matter how small, to build confidence, knowledge and skills. One step at a time … having successfully developed and taught our first units was a great start toward reaching our goal.

Then, after two years of developing units and consolidating practices we were faced with the challenge of the new National Curriculum 2013. Much discussion centred around avoiding it or embracing it. So we came full circle, embraced it and reviewed our existing units. The changes for Curriculum 2013 not only involved changes centred around content in the form of the Kompetensi Dasar. There was also a change of thinking about approaches to education. There were changes to the basic framework and structure for Sekolah Dasar.

Section C of the Regulation of the Minister of Education, “KERANGKA DASAR DAN STRUKTUR KURIKULUM SEKOLAH DASAR” (translated) focused on Improving the Mindset with the following changes:

“1) teacher-centered learning patterns become learning centered on students.

2) teacher centred instruction (teacher to student) to become interactive teaching and learning (interactive teacher-students-community-natural environment, sources / other media)

3) isolated learning into networked learning (learners can gain knowledge from anyone and from anywhere that can be sourced via the internet)

4) passive learning into active learning (active student learning strengthened with inquiry science learning approach)

5) individual learning into group learning (team-based)

6) single source learning into multimedia-based learning tools

7) whole class teaching into the looking at the needs of students by strengthening the development of the each student’s potential

8) single subject learning (monodiscipline) into multidisciplinary learning

9) passive learning to critical learning

B. Characteristics of Curriculum 2013

1) The 2013 curriculum is designed to develop a balance between the development of spiritual and social attitudes, curiosity, creativity, cooperation with intellectual and psychomotor abilities.

2) Schools are part of a community that provides a planned learning experience in which learners apply what is learned in school to the community and to utilize the community as a learning resource.

3) Develop attitudes, knowledge, and skills and apply them in various situations in schools and communities.

4) Allow sufficient time to develop attitudes, knowledge, and skills.”

The key areas of the National curriculum section D are:

  1. The work of individual teachers is transformed into a collaborative working approach.
  2. Strengthening school management through strengthening the Principal’s management capability as an educational leader.
  3. Strengtheneing of facilities and infrastructure for the benefit of management and the process of learning.”

These positive changes could be readily translated through identifiable similarities with the PYP approach to learning and teaching. This made the transition from a National School to a PYP school readily justifiable through clearer connections and gave us the freedom needed to explore ways in which we could deliver successfully on both fronts.

With renewed impetus we set upon embracing the task of redeveloping (and creating new) indicators in all curriculum areas and developing new units for each Grade level. We took a fresh look at the Transdisciplinary Themes and, in Grade level teams, remapped the new curriculum indicators, wrote new units and a created a new Program of Inquiry. The benefits of having taught the “old” units for two years and the many hours of professional development the teachers and leaders had engaged with, was evident in the discussions taking place throughout this collaborative mapping process. As they say, “practice makes perfect” and it was certainly much easier the second time around. The teachers had a greater understanding of the key concepts, the Learner Profile, Attitudes and Transdisciplinary Skills, which resulted in a more purposeful distribution of these across the new units. All these new units were successfully trialed in 2014-15 and changes made in response to reflective discussions throughout the teaching of each unit. During that year several teachers took part in Harvard’s online Making Thinking Visible course and shared their learning through presentations at Staff Meetings. Strategies from these presentations were discussed at collaborative planning meetings and incorporated into the class program, enriching learning experiences and strengthening literacy connections within the units. We felt quite a degree of achievement and recognized that we had made great progress over the past 2 and a half years. At the same time we acknowledged that there was still much to do and consolidate in order to reach our goal. Further guidance in the form of an Evaluation Report would be a welcome document to help shape future developments, clarify goals and professional development needs within the school to support the continuation of our journey.

In March of 2015 our IB PYP Consultant recommended our school for an Accreditation Visit. Our visit was scheduled for September of 2015. Of course the prospect of our visit brought feelings of great excitement, along with feelings of trepidation. Could we be successful? Had we managed to emulsify the oil and the water? The 6 months between March and September would pass quickly, especially with a 6 week holiday break in the mix! As you all know, preparation was full on and continuous for all our Elementary staff in the 6 months leading up to the visit. Each person had a role to play and a responsibility to contribute to the success of the school. Each person showed commitment to being fully prepared and felt proud to be part of Team SD, KK.

In November 2015 we received our official notification from the IBO ….. our Team was successful …. We had “Made the PYP Happen” …. we became an Accredited IB PYP school. We appreciate the feedback we received and continue to work to be the best school we can be …. there will always be things to improve on, new learning, fresh perspectives ….. because gaining PYP Accreditation is not a destination but an interim prize on a continuous journey in education.

We are Sekolah YPJ, Kuala Kencana, proudly Papuan, proudly Indonesian.

Bahasa Indonesia is our language of instruction

We continue to mix the water with the oil, if we stand still we will separate, and we have worked too hard to allow that to happen.

Reference: “SALINAN, LAMPIRAN, PERATURAN MENTERI PENDIDIKAN DAN KEBUDAYAAN

NOMOR 67 TAHUN 2013 TENTANG KERANGKA DASAR DAN STRUKTUR KURIKULUM SEKOLAH DASAR/MADRASAH IBTIDAIYAH”

 

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