Miss Tilly Asafu-Adjaye: Our New Learning Community
Over the summer our ECE Learning Community extended upstairs into a brand new purpose-designed Learning Community for our oldest kindergarten class, K4. Miss Tilly Asafu-Adjaye, K4 teacher at Yew Chung International School of Beijing, discusses the space.
What is the ECE Learning Community?
The Learning Community in ECE is a flexible, open plan space with a central communal play area and classrooms off the side. Classrooms are divided by sliding glass partitions which open onto the communal space and encourage the free flow and movement of children and staff. Teachers work collaboratively throughout the day, planning lessons together and interacting with and observing different children. At the same time, children have freedom to explore and play in the space and with each other.
In what ways does the Learning Community support Early Childhood Education?
Our curriculum is based on the British system Development Matters (EYFS). The principle behind this is in establishing an environment for children to learn through play. All the research supports the fact that young children develop and learn more effectively through play than in a traditional classroom set up.
The Learning Community is all about supporting learning through play. We are outside of the confines of a traditional classroom and the children have the autonomy to choose how they play and learn. While this takes place, teachers observe their activities and interactions and keep records.
How does the space support our co-teaching model?
In the K4 Learning Community, all six teachers (three Chinese and three English-speaking) are on hand to move amongst the children and can share observations and with one another. We then use these observations to inform our planning. Our planning is highly collaborative and facilitated through the free-flowing space.
How does the Learning Community support bilingualism?
Children have access to six teachers during the day. Depending on who is nearby, they will switch between Chinese and English as they ask for help. They also interact with their peers who speak Chinese, English and other languages, all supporting bilingualism.
During the day, Chinese and English teaching staff will lead lessons, sing songs and have conversations with the children. With Chinese and English embedded into the daily curriculum, children grow and acquire new language skills throughout the year.
How does the space help you as a teacher?
I love being able to collaborate with the other teachers, receive and give feedback and have professional conversation during the day. We share ideas, support each other and come up with lesson plans as a group – it’s like continuous professional development!
The K4 Learning Community has a door and a glass partition wall onto Year 1. Why is this?
Towards the end of K4, our students begin the transition programme to Year 1. They will meet Year 1 teachers, take part in some Year 1 lessons and join the Year 1s for lunch and break times. Having the immediate access onto their Learning Community will undoubtedly make this transition more familiar and more comfortable.
To find out more about our state of the art Learning Communities in ECE and Year 1, come to our Open Day on October 23rd! We are looking forward to seeing our K4 classes learn and grow in this fantastic new space.