Sunday, June 14, 2015

The power of the PYP

Our school year here at Branksome Hall Asia finished on Friday for students. Of the many highlights throughout the year, two stood out for me during the last week - Grade Five and Six graduation. This year we have transitioned Grade Six out of the Junior School and into the Middle School. The knock on effect of this is that everything that the Grade Six do in their final year had to be doubled as it was also the final year for the Grade Fives.

As the Grade Five and Six students reflected on their achievements and highlights throughout the year, many of their speeches mentioned the Exhibition as a defining moment for them. This is unsurprising - it is a major event for Junior School students. One speech in particular really stood out for me and I asked her permission to share it here.

Jiyeon only joined BHA this year. I covered a lesson for her class teacher earlier in the year and not long after she arrived. At BHA we have a very high number of English language learners - about 98% of our student population do not have English as a mother tongue. So the fact that Jiyeon didn't speak much English when she first arrived wasn't a major concern. What was causing a few alarm bells to sound off was her lack of engagement and apparent interest in even trying. The class teacher and I were concerned that, given she would be leaving the Junior School at the end of the year, we may not be able to provide Jiyoen with the best possible opportunities for success. What a difference three months makes. Jiyeon not only presented this speech in front of her graduating peers, parents and teachers, but she also had a speaking role in the school production and presented with her Exhibition group to students from other schools in Jeju.

Graduation speech

 Hi, I’m Jiyeon from VF, and I’m here for graduate my short 6th grade. I came this school in this year, and my English skills grow quickly. At first day of this school, I was really nervous. I think I only said maybe 3 sentences in class. I thought I don’t have enough English skill to study in this school. Well, that was fact.

 But, my school life changed when I did exhibition. I learn very many things, and I did very many new things. I wrote my first English script for presentation, and I wrote my own English essay. Actually, my writing skill grows in fastest speed. Before exhibition that was hard to write only 1 or 2 sentences. But now, I can write 23 pages of narrative, and half page of speech. I am very proud of myself.

 In 6th grade, I learned that we need to be a risk taker. When I see the IB learner profiles, I always think [I want to be a risk taker]. Because I’m not a risk taker, and I think that is most important thing in my life. In class, I don’t put my hand up when teacher ask some question. Because I always worry about when my answer is wrong, and when teacher doesn’t pick me to answer. But, when I take a risk, all things changed, and I realized. I need to take a risk! But that is hard. I think this is something that I need to improve on when I go to 7th grade.

 After summer vacation, all 6th grades become 7th grade, and start learning MYP program. We will never forget our grateful 6th grade teachers, parents, and friends.

 Thank you.
This speech has so many wonderful messages. The impact that Exhibition has. The benefits of risk-taking and the connection between the Learner Profile and learning. The power of reflection (and it is clear that Jiyeon is very reflective). Huge credit to Jiyeon for the amazing progress she has made this year - surely great things await in her future. Our Grade Six teachers also deserve to revel in our praise for it is their support and encouragement that has helped this to occur. If there was ever an example of the power of a growth mindset coupled with a PYP education - this is it.

Photo Credit: izahorsky via Compfight cc