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Empathy - September 2016

As we launch into a new school year, teachers are enthusiastically planning the six Units of Inquiry they will cover with their students this year.  Each unit will fall under one of the six transdisciplinary themes: Who We Are, Where We Are in Place and Time, How We Express Ourselves, How the World Works, How We Organize Ourselves, and Sharing the Planet.

Our school’s Program of Inquiry (POI) is posted in the hallway by the main office.  This display shows the central idea for each of the six units taught at every grade. Of course, the chart format is a simplistic way of displaying the Program of Inquiry, as it assumes there are no combined classes. If your child is in a combined class this year, he/she will cover some central ideas from one grade and some central ideas from the other.  We ensure all six transdisciplinary themes are covered during the year and we adapt the units to fit the interests and abilities of the students in the class.  Inquiry based learning focuses on skills and concepts, rather than specific facts and ideas, so there is no disadvantage to your childʼs learning if central ideas planned for one grade are covered in a different grade, as will be the case for combined classes.

Your childʼs teacher will ensure the five transdisciplinary skills (thinking, social, communication, self- management, and research) and the eight key concepts (form, function, causation, change, connection, perspective, responsibility, and reflection) are explored during the year.

This year we will have a school-wide focus on a different PYP Attitude each month.  The PYP Attitudes are an important focus in the development of positive attitudes towards people, the environment, and learning.  They are meant to be an explicit part of daily learning, modeled by both students and staff, in and out of the classroom.  When reinforced at both school and home, the attitudes will become second nature for our children.  The PYP attitudes are: appreciation, commitment, confidence, cooperation, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect, and tolerance.

In September, we are focusing on empathy.  Empathy is imaginatively projecting ourselves into another’s situation, in order to understand their thoughts, reasoning, and emotions. (IBO.org) When we talk with our students about empathy, we discuss being able to put ourselves in someone else’s place in order to better understand him or her.  Empathy are a significant consideration when creating essential agreements for our classrooms.  When solving problems that occur in the classroom and on the playground, students are encouraged to consider how their behavior affected others, how those involved might be feeling, and how to make amends.  As well, students' empathetic feelings, understanding, and behavior have been shown to increase as a result of being a peer or cross-age tutors, which is one of the reasons every class has a buddy class.  Buddy classes will meet regularly to read together and/or do small joint projects.

If you are looking for books to read with your child that encourage discussion about empathy, a good starting list can be found at: http://pyplibrary.wikispaces.com.