Continuing our Parental Learning Journey

On Thursday 24th October, UN Day, we had a follow-up parent workshop (you can read about the first one here). This time we were inquiring into International Mindedness and the importance of supporting home languages. We had a few more parents in attendance than last time and like last time, had led into the session with an assembly. Our assembly featured presentations from the students about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and their understandings of International Mindedness.

Reviewing the Learner Profile Attributes

The parents were able to remember all 10 of the Learner Profile Attributes and the statements we had used from @whatedsaid in our previous session. We moved onto looking at the school’s definition of internationalism and I gave them the thinking routine 4Cs to unpack their thinking. I had all the prompts translated into Korean, Chinese and Arabic as well as in English to help the parents understand what was required of them. I told them that ‘mistakes are fine’, ‘there are no wrong answers’, ‘this is about what you think’ and they were stopped in their tracks!

Why were they stopped? Because they not used to being asked to work this way. Not used to tackling one of these thinking routines we ask our students to do all of the time. I think sometimes we get so used to the way we work as PYP teachers and have such high expectations of our students we forget the level of challenge and high-level thinking involved in some learning engagements.

I was talking to someone recently who asked me how do I respond when people say “there is no rigour in the PYP”? I told her that, in my opinion, that is nonsense! We don’t have lots of memorisation of facts and figures; cram children full of knowledge they may not need again but we do ask them to pose and solve problems and to think a lot! We ask them also to talk about their thinking, to justify and explain. This, as we know, builds the skills children actually need for their futures but it is also something that we may not consciously do as adults or challenge other adults to do.

Our parents rose to this challenge beautifully and were able to access it through their own languages. Putting them in the position of our learners, their children; asking them to participate in a language that is not their own makes them appreciate, I think, just how hard their children work and the levels of their achievements.

From this engagement, we moved into a discussion about the importance of supporting home languages. We discussed it from the perspectives of:

  • Identity – personal and social
  • Intellectual Growth
  • Education
  • Economic Opportunity

This is an article I used for reference when I was planning for this part of the session:

The parents had a lot of insight here and it was a rich discussion. It helped them to understand our homework menus better and why we have options which involve talking, discussion and asking questions of family members. It helped to forge a stronger bond between home and school. I asked families for their input on what they would like to contribute and what more we can do to support their children’s languages. We had a very rich discussion with lots of ideas being put forward and ideas that take us beyond the 5 Fs of Culture in food, fashion, festivals, famous people and flags. Now we have these suggestions though it is up to us to do something with them! Watch this space…

This session left us all looking forward to our next one. I asked the parents what they would like us to look at and they said understanding our report cards and Transdisciplinary Learning, so that is what we will do. For that session, I would welcome ideas and input on learning engagements I can carry out with a multi-lingual, multi-cultural group of mums and dads. Particularly engagements that can model inquiry and transdisciplinary mathematics as well as ways of unpacking the report cards… Thank you in advance!

The image by James Penstone is licensed under a 
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

The 4Cs from the website Thinking Pathways:

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