It is not work if you love it!

I am blessed to work with two brilliant and talented PYP coordinators Joey Creelman and Rebecca Doige. They have supported my journey over the last 2 years in learning and living the PYP program at CISB. This week I had the privilege of working along side Joey and Rebecca as they led our Program of Inquiry Review (POI).

This was a lengthy process that involved many steps along the way. We had set a goal at the beginning of the year to review 2 of our units of inquiry: How the World Works and Sharing the Planet. These are traditionally science based units but in our case they had taken a more social students/social justice lens. Through analysis of our curriculum and the POI we discovered that there were many expectations from our New Brunswick curriculum that we had not been covering. Our Middle High science teachers had also identified some gaps in our students knowledge, understanding and application of science concepts in grade 6.

As an extended administration team we began the process of reviewing our curriculum to identify gaps. We carefully examined the Health and Wellness, Science and Social Studies curriculum and looked at how the concepts were integrated into our current POI. Through this process we were able to identify a few things:

* Many of the Health and Wellness curriculum outcomes can be covered through our work in Responsive Classroom.
* Several of the physical and natural science outcomes were not being covered or reflected in the POI.
* In order to properly enhance and improve our POI we needed to look at all of the units of inquiry.

With these factors in mind Joey and Rebecca designed a review of our program of inquiry that would involve teachers in the process. Teachers gathered to review the components of the POI and provide feedback. Joey and Rebecca facilitated the rich and thought provoking discussion and allowed staff to have a voice in the process. I was able to come to the table with staff and engage in a dialogue with them about the quality, depth and diversity of the POI.

Joey and Rebecca then consolidated the feedback from the staff and began to rebuild the POI. They identified units that needed to remain intact and possible changes to consider based on the suggestions from staff. Joey, Rebecca, our instructional coach and myself then came together to design the revised POI. Throughout the process we referred to the transdisciplinary themes, our curriculum outcomes, IB recommended central ideas and sample POIS. This process took several hours. At the conclusion we reviewed the Central Ideas both horizontally and vertically. We were very pleased. We felt that we were able to create a product that honored the work of the staff and addressed the identified gaps. We also felt that we deepened the central ideas and created opportunities for more open lines of inquiry.

Prior to presenting to staff we are planning on coming back together to identify some suggested lines of inquiry. These can be used as guidelines for teams in developing the Central Idea.

Last year I was part of the POI review but I am not really sure that I had the depth of knowledge of IB or an understanding of the process and its importance so I felt like a passenger on the journey. This year I have felt like an active participant and have enjoyed the process very much!

What I discovered is how much I love curriculum work. We have mapped our math curriculum this year, reviewed and mapped our Approaches to Learning and revised our Program of Inquiry. This is challenging work but also very exciting and rewarding. I absolutely love being able to work with our administration team and teachers to review, revise and enhance our curriculum. We are committed to creating a program that is rich and engaging for our students. A program that gives teachers and students opportunities for voice, choice and ownership and allows them to explore the central idea in a way that is meaningful and applies to them. There are knowledge outcomes but the focus is on understanding, communication and real life application. We are pushing our students to be 21st century globally minded learners.

As a leader it is refreshing to have the autonomy to make curricular decisions that are responsive to the needs of the learner in our specific context. It is also rewarding to work alongside gifted leaders who take risks, invite collaboration and always push staff and students to grow. It was fun to be a part of the process that others were leading and to see them shine in their element. I can’t wait for team collaboration this week so we can share our “proposed” POI! Our hope is that it will be viewed with the same enthusiasm and excitement we feel but if it is not then we will go back at it with an open mind! We want to honor the work of our teachers and to best meet the needs of our learners!

As a leader what are you passionate about in your work?

Who are your champions and leaders? How do you support their growth and leadership?

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