Two IB educators, Maria Hersey and Lisa Nicholson, recently developed four new workshops in a series called ‘What is an IB education?’ Here, they discuss the workshops as tools for teachers, whether you work in an IB World School or not and no matter which programme you teach.
Q: Is there always more to learn about an IB education?
Maria: Yes! In developing these new workshops, we found that inquiry, conceptual understanding and international-mindedness remain important pillars for educational change in the future. We also found that IB standards and practices really do support good educational pedagogy and philosophy. We used theory and practice to answer, “What does an IB education look like in a classroom?” and “how do I make that happen?”
Q: How does knowing more about an IB education support teachers?
Maria: The more teachers understand what’s happening in their classrooms, the easier it is for them to discuss what evidence-based practice looks like and how teaching and learning are changing. Teachers are the “way into” the IB for many parents. The more parents understand, the more comfortable and supportive they become.
Q: What drove your development focus?
Lisa: One challenge for us was to think beyond each programme and look at the big question: What does an IB education mean? In these workshops, you will explore this question in depth—through your own programme experience and with peers from all four programmes—to help expand your thinking and change your perspective.
Q: Is there an optimal time in your career to explore the meaning of an IB education?
Lisa: It doesn’t matter whether you are an IB educator or not. If you simply want to become a better teacher and one of your goals is to look further into inquiry-based practices, these are good workshops to attend. They go beyond the IB in every instance because the IB is pedagogically sound and comprises best teaching practices. This assures an exciting starting point for everyone in the room.
Q: Can you briefly summarize what each workshop offers?
Lisa: Our workshop named Approaches to Learning looks at what it means to actually teach a skill. What does a skill-equipped student look like? How do I know whether a student has learned a skill? How do students know when they’ve learned a skill? It’s about creating a new awareness in your students.
Many things happen in a classroom, but it’s all useless unless there’s meaning from the student’s perspective. How do we make meaning in terms of perspective and communication? This workshop offers learning activities and engagements around five or six skills and a skill bank of activities to help you build certain skills.
Maria: Conversations about interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary and disciplinary learning inspired the workshop called Beyond the Disciplines. How can educators bring these three worlds together and pull strengths from each? What does such learning look like in and outside the classroom? This workshop encourages you to help students identify a way of knowing that is comfortable for them. The emphasis is on perspective-taking and student engagement.
Investigating Inquiry blends research and application. Why is inquiry essential? What does it look like and how do you and your students engage in it? How does inquiry look across different age levels? We create an inquiry-based learning environment by providing frameworks and then allowing you time to reflect.
Lisa: Living and learning globally is about what it means to be part of the world and how to develop global competence in students. We anchor each engagement in a series of IB command terms—such as ‘identify’ and ‘justify’—so that you can be mindful of the terms in your practice back home.
Maria: Local and global connections are central—so is considering different perspectives and applying the attributes of the learner profile. Classroom discussion might include ‘how do you react when you have contact with what goes against your belief and value system?’
Q: Anything to add about developing these workshops?
Maria: We looked at educational frameworks from Australia, the UK, the US, and OECD. All the pieces started to fit within each workshop to encourage connections—a learning process you can share with your students.Choose your favourite workshop and register today for a location near you!