The MYP reframed

The MYPChat on Twitter this morning raised a few questions that significantly impact the development of the MYP in our schools.

How do we implement all the elements of the MYP mindfully balancing teacher workload and program goals? was a question from @reidau1 (who is our MYPChat facilitator this week) which tickled thinking from the conversation on Twitter.

We know that the school year pretty much is the same each academic year. It’s about 37 weeks, around 180 days, and we need to guarantee a minimum number of hours for each subject. And with this finite resource, we need to implement a lot of layers of learning.

And it might be useful to reframe the problem so instead of asking, How do we fit all of the MYP program into a limited amount of time for teachers and students? we ask instead, How do we revise the function of time and capacity for the aims we target?

The reframing of the question asks us to shift our vision a bit. Rather than think that each part of the program is a separate function or role, we might think of the resources of function and capacity to address multiple layers of program implementation.

If we begin with the end in mind, what we want is to have the capacity to nurture:

  • Agile learners who readily respond to a variety of open-ended problems
  • Individuals who lead their own learning
  • People who are aware of their impact on others and the world
  • Learners who can connect learning to the world
  • Independent inquirers who thrive even in a VUCA world

Gathering the common threads we find that what we want is to create a coherent experience which nurtures self-directed, responsive and reflective learners who can lead learning in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous situations.

Integrating the MYP requires reframing the way we think of its design ‘on the ground.’

Knowing that the impact we want to create is a learner with great capacity, it seems that the ways by which we can create these experiences draws upon our own capacities as teachers and leaders.

The juggler and the airport traffic controller

Capacity is not the same as skill. Skill is the ability to do something well (Google dictionary), and so the juggler is skilled in coordinating vision and hand movements to keep items in the air in a sequential and well-timed order of catch-and-throw. With technical practice, the juggler is able to habituate responses to the predictable act of juggling.

The air traffic controller has skill and capacity. Capacity is either the maximum amount something can contain or the amount that something can produce (from Google dictionary). And if we consider that the air traffic controller is making split-second decisions about communication, timing, sequence, among other things while also regulating the stress response to remain calm at a busy airport with scores of takeoffs and landings, we recognise that capacity is multi-dimensional and layered.

The suggestion is that since the MYP is multi-dimensional and layered, we might need to build capacity rather than designate jugglers for the numerous parts of our program.

The greater sum is capacity

The ideal situation would be that we had enough teachers to be SA mentors, Community Project mentors and Personal Project mentors so that teachers would not have to be swamped in the complexity of having too many roles. The reality is that we do not always have the luxury of one-track support for our students.

We need to leverage our capacity, for example, for mentorship and coaching so that we are able to transfer these capabilities across a variety of functions.

My hunch is that if we demonstrate the Learner Profile in the enactment of our MYP, we might create a culture of

  • Agile leaders of learning who readily respond to a variety of open-ended problems
  • Wayfinders of direction and efficacy in the ways we mentor our students
  • Pioneers of agency and action in response to and in service of others and the world
  • Learners who can connect learning to the world
  • Independent inquirers who thrive even in a VUCA world
Capacity for MYP teachers lives in the Learner Profile.

How the adults cultivate capacity in the ways we lead learning can model the ways by which our students gain capacity in learning how to learn.

A key might be the ATL skill of transfer.

When adults are able to transfer mentoring skills from one function to another, there is less juggling and more air traffic control. Instead of thinking of ourselves as mentors for the Personal Project, we see ourselves as mentors with the capacity to mediate thinking, draw metacognition, and bridge thought worlds between goals and strategies for a student OR bridge thought worlds between organisation in Language and literature and organisation as a function of communicating clearly through patterns, in math.

Instead of thinking the academic honesty and research skills are the domain of a librarian type, we see ourselves as a design teacher whose students need to understand how creation is authorship and giving credit is participation in a greater interdependence of creative thought.

The task is open-ended, but we can draw upon our ATL skills to build through:

  • Analysing the parts and find their connections.
  • Synthesising in ways that utilising the strengths of your context and culture.
  • Creating the program design.

Integrating the MYP is a reframing of program implementation so that form does not become a limitation and function becomes opportunity. Just as we provide multiple access points to inquiry, we can create multiple expressions of the MYP. The creativity in how we layer its implementation is within the patterns of how we scale the parts to form the whole.

Photo credit: Featured photo by Alexandr Bormotin on Unsplash

Author: alavina

Cognitive Coach and author. I simplify personal power so you can use mental resources and find pathways to your goals, be more productive and feel in control every day.

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