Michelle has a BA (Hons) in History and South Asian Studies from North London University and PGCE from Middlesex University. She began teaching across all three primary key stages. Michelle began her school leadership career in 2002, when she became the Deputy Head Teacher of a large primary school in North London and spent four wonderful years there before relocating to India in 2005.
Her first international position was the Head of Primary of a local/international school in Bangalore in Southern India, where she introduced the Cambridge International Primary Programme and Checkpoint. Michelle then spent 6 years in China and 3 years in Ethiopia developing curriculum and assessment practices.
Michelle believes that children learn best when they are having fun and are engaged in practical, real life activities. While she recognises that outstanding academic achievement is the ultimate goal, she feels it is just as important to build self-esteem, instill character and encourage a global outlook in every child. Michelle believes that learning transcends the classroom environment and is passionate about educational visits and extra-curricular experiences.
Michelle is married with four children - Ana, Hindya, Bille and Markos. The Dickinson family have a sense of adventure and love of life. They particularly enjoy the outdoors, family holidays, making friends, good weather, camping and exploring and are delighted to be at OWIS.
At One World International School, we understand the critical importance of early childhood education for laying the foundation for your children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. The right programme can maximise your child’s development during this formative period while cultivating a life-long love of learning and self-inquiry. It develops children into passionate and inquisitive learners who always ask questions, seek to find answers and thrive on knowledge. OWIS follows the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), a curriculum framework that includes an “Early Years” component designed for preschool-age children prior to the start of formal schooling. PYP Early Years focuses on inquiry-led, play-based learning in rich and stimulating learning environments that integrate the natural world into the classroom, both indoors and outside. It makes education a fun and enjoyable experience while always ensuring that key learning targets are met. Our teachers too, are constantly learning and developing their skills and ensure that students are on the correct learning pathway.
How is my child’s day structured?
OWIS strives to provide a safe, stimulating and nurturing environment for our earliest learners from 9:00 until 3:30 each day. We welcome our young learners and their parents into our environment every morning for a self-chosen settling activity. This important time allows our educators and parents daily opportunities to exchange information and share their child’s learning journey. It also gives time for the children to settle into their day, communicate any worries or concerns and spend time with their families, teachers and peers. It makes the start of each day a positive experience that children look forward to.
During a typical day, your child will engage in a variety of hands-on experiences, such as using manipulatives to explore pre-numeracy concepts, working with paper and pencil for short periods of time to develop handwriting and phonics skills or painting to cultivate self-expression. Your child will listen to stories, be immersed in a language-rich environment. They will become enlightened by each other's diverse background, cultures and traditions. Our teachers will encourage your child to ask questions and communicate his or her thinking. They will bounce ideas off each other, debate, discuss and learn about different experiences. Each day our child will benefit from opportunities to work collaboratively with other children and teachers, developing your child’s understanding of themselves and the world around them. Allowing children to spend short but effective periods of time practising these skills helps to develop their love of learning without overwhelming them at such a young age.
How does the OWIS PYP Early Years Curricula compare to Montessori or Reggio Emilia?
Montessori and Reggio Emilia are two well-known early childhood educational philosophies. Like PYP Early Years, both are child-centred educational approaches that value child-led inquiry and self-learning. Montessori focuses heavily on self-directed, hands-on learning and collaborative play within a special environment equipped with durable educational toys. OWIS always ensures that we have the best resources available to ensure that students' learning needs are personalized.
Like Montessori, Reggio Emilia is an educational philosophy focused on student-centred, self-directed and experiential learning. One key difference between the Montessori and Reggio Emilia approaches is the role of the educator. In Montessori classrooms, the teacher is an observer who directs learning unobtrusively. In Reggio Emilia classrooms, the teacher takes a more active role, serving as an equal partner with the parent to share ideas and support the child’s learning process.
Core early childhood education tenants, like the belief that children need control over the direction of their learning and need to learn through a variety of experiences (touch, movement, listening, observation), is reflected in both Reggio Emilia and PYP. Both approaches also value the learning environment with Reggio Emilia considering it a “third teacher”. Both of these learning formats enable children to become well-rounded and adaptable in all that they do. It makes education exciting and ensures that the child is always the centre of that experience.
While OWIS does not formally follow the Reggio Emilia approach, many educators consider the PYP Early Years programme to be aligned with the goals of Reggio Emilia, while still ensuring children achieve key developmental milestones in preparation for primary school. It encourages play-led learning and allows for children to act autonomously, where appropriate, in their education. PYP Early Years is not a Montessori-affiliated programme.
How does the PYP Early Years Programme prepare my child for primary school?
At OWIS, our PYP Early Years Programme is attentive to the social, physical and cognitive development of our students. Our teachers are carefully trained to encourage independence and responsibility. They come from a range of backgrounds and have varied experiences which they are able to share with your child. They will always be kind and caring and will know when your child may need some extra support, acting on this immediately. While your child will be encouraged to initiate self-inquiry and play-based learning, we also use the early learning goals and developmental milestones from the Early Years Foundation Stage to ensure high standards of learning and to assess their academic, social and personal progress. By the end of this phase of development, your child will be a highly engaged learner, ready to take his or her natural inquiry and curiosity, independence, self-confidence, sense of responsibility, and excellent academic skills to our dynamic Primary School. We will ensure that students feel well equipped and excited to move into the Primary School and will always ensure that the transition goes smoothly. At OWIS we put our children and their families at the centre of everything we do. This is why we are proud to offer such a dynamic Early Years Programme.