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Words from Xinhua Teachers ⑤丨A "letter" from Germany

"When I arrived in China in 2003, my first goal was to learn Chinese. I went on to study at East China Normal University and graduated in 2010. The next 10 years, I spent working at Shanghai United International School to experience different curricula as well as the philosophy of ‘East Meets West’. Six years of my stay at SUIS, I spent in the IB PYP section as teacher and coordinator. I am very passionate about the PYP and its philosophy, which shows in my daily life."

Dear parents,

It is my great pleasure to join Xinhua Academy as PYP coordinator. The last couple of weeks have been filled with preparations for the start of the academic year 2020-2021. Lots of training and curriculum work have been taking place and we are all very excited to see the students coming back on September 1st.

Living, studying and working in China has opened up my eyes to a wide range of thoughts and ideas. After 17 years in China, I am looking forward to work at Xinhua Academy who embrace and cherish the Chinese National curriculum combined with the IB PYP as a framework.

We are now a PYP candidate school and are working towards authorization. The implementation of the PYP framework along with the content of the Chinese National Curriculum provide a true international education with the rigour and appreciation of Chinese wisdom and culture.

Through my time in the Chinese education system, I am confident to say that I have gained a good understanding of the idea of ‘East meets West’ and am looking forward to apply this concept at Xinhua.

PYP does not follow the traditional approaches to learning. PYP is about making connections, linking ideas, conceptual understandings and developing skills to deal with complex ideas. During each unit we use an inquiry-based approach to learning and supports the development of students’ thinking skills; collaborative, caring, critical and creative thinking are some of the top 21st century skills needed.

During a unit of inquiry, the students combine the knowledge from different subject areas and put it into practice. The following example is from a unit about changes to Earth. Throughout the unit, the students inquired into slow changes, fast changes and the impact on people’s lives. In their final project, students presented their learning to other students through posters, games, movies, and ppts. The students had to use their knowledge from different subject areas to put this final project together. Their speaking showed off their language skills; their graphs were part of their learning in maths; and their knowledge about Earth’s changes, including the layers of the Earth and natural disasters, were part of their science studies. One unit can be seen as a holistic approach to learning.

IB students are ‘life-long learners’ and I am looking forward to more learning happening together with the whole community at Xinhua.

Vanessa Pfoehler

2020.7.31

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