The role of the adult

The teacher must be familiar with child development and learning, be responsive to the needs and interests of the individual student, and be aware of the cultural and social contexts in which the student lives and learns. The role of the teacher is to facilitate connections between the student’s prior knowledge and the knowledge available through new experiences. This is best done with the support of the parents, because it is the student’s environment—the home, the school and the community—that will shape the student’s cognitive experience.

The teacher needs to provide a secure learning environment in which the individual student is valued and respected, so that the relationships students establish with each other and with adults, which are of central importance to development and learning, will flourish. The student is best served when the relationships between the teacher and the parent, and between the school and the home, are reciprocal and supportive. In a PYP classroom, parents are welcomed as partners, with a clear role to play in supporting the school and their own children. They are informed and involved.

The range of development and learning demonstrated by each member of a group of students will inform which practices the teacher will need to implement to meet the needs of both the group and the individual. The PYP suggests that the teacher’s role in this process is to create an educational environment that encourages students to take responsibility, to the greatest possible extent, for their own learning. This means that resources must be provided for each student to become involved in self-initiated inquiry, in a manner appropriate to each student’s development and modalities of learning.

The PYP classroom is a dynamic learning environment, with the students moving from group work to individual work in response to their needs and the needs of the inquiries to which they have committed. The students will change roles, working as a leader, a partner, or a member of a larger group.

In the PYP classroom, the teacher facilitates the process of students becoming initiators rather than followers by creating opportunities for and supporting student-initiated inquiries; by asking carefully thought-out, open-ended questions; and by encouraging students to ask questions of each other as well as of the teacher. It goes without saying that the teacher must also value and model inquiry.

Source: Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education (2009)

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