The new academic year has rolled in for most of us! It is a time to start afresh on a new plate. Some of you may have moved to a new school, eager to enjoy the new adventures. While some others, may still be in the same school/job and wondering how to do things differently.

How best can we start?

This question had me wondering as to how best to could we start the new year? Should we look forwards, backwards or look forward AND backward? When we think of the Backward by Design model, isn’t looking backward actually enabling us to look forward? So I decided to have everyone reflect back!

Letter to myself

In fact, a year back we had written a letter to ourselves, with our goals mentioned for the last academic year! So this time, we decided to read those letters, exactly one year later! Here is an extract of a letter by a colleague!

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Letter to myself – courtesy Kamalpreet Mangat

Warming up the ice

We loosely use the term ‘ice-breaker’ or ‘warming up’ as friendly opportunities to mix around with familiar and unfamiliar people. However, I had my team ‘warm up’ the ice in a more mindful manner! We used this mindfulness technique (inspired from the original idea shared here) along with a creative visualisation led by me to have everyone feel an ice cube melt on their open palms, along with some Zen meditation music playing softly in the background. As the teachers closed their eyes to become increasingly mindful of the melting ice cube and all its associated sensations, I guided them to release their fears, doubts, anger, apprehensions and insecurities, before they planned to envision the year ahead. As I was engrossed leading it, and all my staff members were ‘frozen’ in their mindfulness exercises, no pictures unfortunately! 🙂

holding an ice cube DBT
Image Credit

Bone Diagram

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Bone Diagram…courtesy Namita Devgan

This is a wonderful ‘thinking.planning.reflecting.goalsetting’ tool and more can be read about the same here! I love it, as it is similar to a tool that my aunt had taught me to use as an adolescent before planning any significant life event, and hence, was something I was always conceptually familiar with! Teachers, having reflected on their achievements, then set forth charting their goals for the new academic year using this graphic organiser!

Well, this reflective exercise helped all of us to pause, ponder, critique and predict… and thereby, create a blueprint of the path that lay ahead of us! There will be many twists and turns, and wondering and wandering, which will make our reflections that much more interesting at the end of this year!

Till then, let us enjoy this wonderful PYP Learning Journey!