PYP Exhibition Workshop as Strategic Visioning – Teacher Voice, Choice and Ownership

Each year we spend a Wednesday PD session dedicated to the PYP Exhibition. It is a nice way to remind teachers of the journey the students make and all of our contributions along the way. We do not view the Exhibition as a grade 5 achievement but rather a school achievement with of course the students at the center of that.

Last year the grade 5 teachers led an excellent workshop, demonstrating how to explode a topic into an issue and the find your passion within that. They walked us through how to incorporate math, the arts, language and other disciplines and subjects into the issue. And they focused us in on action. In another blog post I’ll discuss some of our Aha! moments along the way with Exhibition and how we have changed the journey to better include student voice, choice and ownership. But in this post I’d like to tell you about the Exhibition workshop we just had.

I my last two blog posts I spoke about teacher agency and the roles and responsibilities within a school. I would love to work towards building a teacher powered school. Today we worked towards that vision.

Teacher-powered adjective

  1. collaboratively designed and implemented by teachers.

  2. teachers having collective autonomy to make the decisions influencing the success of a school, project, or professional endeavor. As in, teacher-powered school or a teacher-powered evaluation program.

In our PD session we wanted for teachers to be reminded of the five essential elements and to complete a min-exhibition in 105 minutes. Our question was how to make this experience authentic and engaging. And that is when the idea was born… teachers could run through the process of a mini-exhibition while creating a strategic vision.

We started with a gallery walk. All along the bulletin boards in the meeting hall we hung up images, documents and artifacts reminding us of “Who we are.” These included curriculum maps, policies, handbooks, the whole school strategic plan, photographs of school activities, brochures/pamphlets, scope and sequence documents and more. Teachers looked through the gallery, added ideas with post-it notes, talked with each other and found their passion within “Who we are.”

This led to the formation of groups with similar topics under common themes. A teacher who was looking at the playground joined another teacher looking at the lunch spaces to form a group focused on spaces and environments. These common themes were to serve as the related concepts as teams moved forward. We all shared our related concepts and then teachers were given the chance to move groups or go it alone.

Within their teams the groups identified the Learner Profile attributes and attitudes that would guide their essential agreements and collaborative inquiry for the day.

The groups “exploded” their topics and themes with a question-storming protocol (see IDEO for some great ideas for brainstorming and design thinking). Then they bundled their ideas (inspired by Kath Murdoch in “Classroom Connections”) and sorted them into the key concepts creating concept questions.

  • What are our relationships like?
  • Are we modelling good relationships?
  • How can teachers feel more valued?
  • Are we approachable?
  • How can we build our teaching community?
  • Can we create this culture of a caring community?
  • How do such communities become delightful?

The three concept questions that resonated with each group were turned into their lines of inquiry. And this helped focus the inquiry under a Transdisciplinary Theme.

Who we are

  • Form: An inquiry into the nature of relationships at ISU JS
  • Causation: An inquiry into the factors that affect relationships
  • Change: An inquiry into how collegiality can be enhanced

Armed with their focus they then completed some research using the Approaches to Learning. This involved collecting brief primary and secondary data. We had teachers interviewing each other, completing short surveys, referring back to artifacts from the gallery walk and finding more information online.

Now with their thoughts and ideas focused by key concepts, related concepts, lines of inquiry and questions teams wrote their own Central Ideas.

Supportive relationships with colleagues help teachers to be more open, effective and reflective

They had reached their larger understanding. They were considering how to promote inquiry. They were being guided by action. They were writing Central Ideas. We have had workshops in the past helping us to elevate our central ideas using the model by Lynn Erickson. And we have discussed how we can take a noun-verb-noun phrase to a concept-verb-concept idea to then inspire action/inquiry with a concept-action verb-concept phrase and finally to stretch our thoughts into a Central Idea. This work paid off today.

Now was time to consider the Exhibition. How were we going to share our journey and process with others?

We had teams present a skit, a song, a rap, a speech, a poster, a summary and more.

More importantly we had teams present their passions for taking ISU forward, for making the Junior School a better place to teach and learn, for making this school their school – a teacher powered school with a strategic vision imagined by all those who work tirelessly everyday with the sole reason any of us are here – the students!


5 thoughts on “PYP Exhibition Workshop as Strategic Visioning – Teacher Voice, Choice and Ownership

  1. hi
    This workshop is impressive. It surely elevates the teachers thinking and action. Definitely it will be reflected on students’ performance since teachers are people who inspire. Thank you for sharing this.


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