My Journey from a Conventional Teacher to PYP Teacher

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Author: Zahra Habib Published on: June 17, 2020 Expected Reading Time: 5 mins


When I was a kindergartener, and people used to ask, what would you like to be once you grow up, my reply was always the same, a TEACHER. I have loved teaching since childhood, I recall teacher-student role-play was my favorite. One of the funniest memories from my childhood is, making my baby brother sit for hours and enacting like a teacher. Which now I feel must be so torturing for him, poor soul, although he still calls me his first teacher, which is always great to hear.


So, the time-wheel kept on spinning, I turned 25, and it was time to decide my career path. Though I got my degree in Media Studies, my heart was stuck with teaching. I had always been passionate about it and knew that nothing could make me happier than teaching. So, I applied to one of the schools in my community and I was hired right away. I didn’t have any prior experience but I had a strong faith that my passion would help me to sail through. I officially started my teaching career at the age of 25. I loved every bit of it, from planning lessons to marking notebooks, teaching those young learners, and seeing their bright smiles and shining eyes was the best thing in the world. It wasn’t just a bed of roses though, parent dealing, meeting the curriculum targets in the assigned time limit, report making, and time management were some of the challenges that I faced in my initial years of teaching. Not to forget the Classroom observations, which were as haunting as the day of judgment. Though the observation feedback always helped me to improve my teaching they still freaked me out. But slowly and gradually, I learned the tricks and nitty-gritty of teaching and could now call myself a proud teacher. What I didn’t know at that time was that there was a twist waiting for me in my teaching career and that was a 360-degree transformation from a conventional teacher to a PYP teacher


This journey began 6 years ago when my school administration decided to apply for IB authorization. When this was announced, we as teachers did not know how to respond. We were shocked, confused, excited, and anxious at the same time. The terms IB, PYP, and transdisciplinary learning, Key concepts, etc. seemed more like alien terms rather than academic terms. So right after the announcement, in the same week, the buzz of PYP started. All the possible challenges were discussed like parent response, teacher turnover, teacher training, class strength, etc. Despite all the discussions and support, I was totally clueless as to what was happening? I had thousands of questions like how will I switch to a PYP teacher? How will I teach now? Will my learners learn in new ways? How will I assess them? And the biggest question was how will I teach without a book? Because being a conventional teacher, I was used to teaching through a book, dictating my learners WHAT to do. Thinking about walking into a classroom without a book and instead of dictating, facilitating them sounded exciting but still it made me anxious that practically will I be able to do it or not?


I remember how crazy the first few months were, full of blunders, experiments, panic attacks, disappointments, pressure, and whatnot. But when that craziness settled down and that chaos turned into peace, I realized how much I started loving being a PYP teacher. Yes, I had to spend extra hours and time to design the curriculum with my co-facilitators but it was all worthwhile. Walking into a classroom with a provocation was far more exciting and fulfilling rather than walking in with a book. Encouraging my learners to ask questions and look for the answers was way cooler than asking questions and telling all the answers.  Making them thinkers, communicators, risk-takers, and inquirers were much more rewarding for me as a teacher than instilling knowledge and expecting them to gulp it all. 


In short, it was a totally new world of teaching, a world without any boundaries and limits of teaching and learning, a world providing endless opportunities for learners to learn, explore, inquire, wonder and research. 


Seeing those young learners bubbling with excitement after finding answers to their wondering or after a successful inquiry, always used to make me smile and made me forget all the teaching stress behind all that planning, etc.


The interesting part of it was that my job description still stated me as a teacher, but that PYP added with my teaching role, changed the whole notion of being a teacher. My role was now more of mentoring rather than directing. It was more focused on what my learners wanted to learn than what I wanted to teach. It emphasized more on facilitating the learning instead of teaching and memorization. The best part was the freedom to experiment. I wasn’t bound to time and limits now, I didn’t have to worry about meeting deadlines to complete the academic benchmarks set for the term. I had the freedom of planning lessons according to the inquiry going on in my class, choice of resources, and this freedom was naturally transferred to the learners. They were empowered by their teacher because they were the ones who were making the learning happen in the classroom. 


So, in a nutshell, I absolutely loved being a PYP teacher, although now I’m working as an Early Years PYP curriculum leader, I believe once a teacher is always a teacher. After becoming a PYP teacher, I realized that I would never want to go back to being a conventional teacher, not because conventional teaching is wrong, but because I believe that making any child learn is what any teacher can do, but making a child think, wonder, inquire, research, analyze is something that only a PYP Teacher can do.


Cheers to all the PYP Teachers out there, remember you all are not just teaching, you are creating lifelong learners, who would be ready to face any challenges coming their way. Keep PYPing, keep shining, and keep making the PYP happen.


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