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Jan 17 2020


Dennis Wang

Earlier this year, Beijing City International School (BCIS) welcomed Dr. Kathryn Murray to our Early Childhood Center (ECC) to spend a month providing long-term, practical guidance on early childhood best practices to our ECC educators and staff. Dr. Murray, an early years education expert and consultant, supported teachers to utilize and integrate innovative early years approaches into the play-based pedagogy andInternational Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme curriculum framework used at the ECC.

A key focus of Dr. Murray's time whilst at the ECC was to develop the use of the environment as a "third teacher" in the classroom. In our Kindergarten and Nursery classrooms, Dr. Murray assisted teachers in creating more relationship-driven environments to engage young learners and encourage self-directed experiential learning. Learning spaces were adjusted and adapted to be pleasing and welcoming, have clear learning intentions, develop specific skills, and be tailored to suit a game, group or individual activity. The size and feel of an investigation station or learning area can have a significant impact on whether and how children engage with it. Dr. Murray worked with Nursery teachers Natalie Johnson and Dan Zhu to introduce circular netting hung from the ceiling to create intimate learning environments for students to engage with materials, but also remain safe and visible to teachers. Rebecca Black, an ECC Kindergarten teacher, reflected on an experience guided by Dr.Murray when a student picked up a string with wooden shapes strung along it at an investigation station. The student played with the string of shapes as if it were a barbecue kebab skewer and began imitating the cooking and sharing of kebabs. Observing this, Ms. Black put into practice a 'provocation', one of the elements borrowed from Walker Learning. Ms. Black placed food-related items, money props and even QR codes for payment to the station to give it a shop theme, by doing so she was able to relate this station to the class' current Statement of Intent and to their counting and numbers math unit. By allowing and observing student engagement with learning tools, objects and prompts, teachers encourage the self-recognition of learning and promote student discovery. Dr. Murray's early years expertise is an important contribution to the diverse and rigorous approaches that are put into practice in the ECC. Dr. Kathryn Murray's visit enriched the personalized discovery learning experience on offer for ECC students and further added to the wealth of expertise of our ECC staff members.