Staff stories: ISP's Sean Walker leads PYP workshops and gets around


Sean Walker, IB PYP workshop leader and ISP's Grade 5 teacher

Born in Cork City, Ireland

Graduated from Warwick University with a teaching degree in 1995

Came to ISP in 2009

Has previously worked in London and Atlanta, Georgia in USA

Sean enjoys learning as an adult and for the past few years has been inquiring into DJing!

Sean Walker is one of our most knowledgeable teachers when it comes to understanding the Primary Years Programme (PYP) curriculum. He regularly runs workshops around the world for other educators, and the feedback and word-of-mouth have given him reputation that keeps him on the move during most of Paris school holidays.

Sean Walker (in striped shirt) with the maths workshop participants at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa in October 2016.

In October Sean led the workshop "Mathematics in the PYP" at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya. The aim of the workshop was to give teachers an opportunity to reflect on how they teach mathematics and inquire into the importance of teaching for understanding; how students construct meaning about the big ideas of maths; the breadth of a maths curriculum; the role of concepts, strategies and skills in the subject; and how to foster a love and curiosity for mathematics.

The feedback that Sean received from this conference shows what a treasure ISP has in him. For instance, Khona Bhattacharjee, PYP Coordinator of the school shared the following with us:

"It was very evident that Sean is an extremely passionate teacher and a highly experienced workshop leader. He was very mindful of the group dynamics and provoked the team to evaluate their own teaching practices with a growth mind set. The examples and strategies that he shared and modelled with the team were very useful in this process. He has shared a wealth of resources but also has given us a direction; helped the team find a way forward to what stance each one of us can take to better our own mathematical skills and knowledge as well as making our teaching practice more effective. My beliefs about mathematics teachings were reinforced through this workshop. I am very happy to have a few members in my team now who are curious to implement what they have learnt and continue their own math inquiry on how best math concepts can be made accessible to the Primary School students. Sean has hopefully left a math virus with each one of us which will multiply with time and have a big impact in a couple of years' time in the School's overall achievement in math."

We have listed below some of the goals that the teachers set for themselves after the workshop:

  • More consciously teach math through inquiry rather than discovery math, analyse language and types of questions used.
  • To always thoughtfully consider and use strategies that will enhance conceptual understanding rather than procedures because the former leads to student ability to apply and see math in real life situations.
  • To do less of written algorithms and more of mental algorithms so as to develop the conceptual understanding of numbers.
  • To use calculator as a fun strategy that I really enjoyed in the workshop.

Mombasa was thankful for having Sean for a few days. We are lucky to have him all the time!

Thank you card that Sean received after the workshop in October. The school liked his workshop so much, that he was invited back during the ski break in February 2017!