Students may have noticed that recently, teachers have been attending International Baccalaureate conferences in other parts of the country. They attend conferences like these every few years to adjust the curriculum of their courses after the IBO makes changes to grading criteria, content, or course structure.
Ms. Jennifer Dikes, the IB coordinator and 12th grade IB History of the Americas teacher, has been to several of these conferences. “To be a part of the International Baccalaureate, schools are required to provide their teachers with training in the IB curriculum and the IB philosophy,” she says. According to her, teachers have to go every six to seven years since every curriculum changes within that time span. IB teachers from across the country meet to discuss ideas on teaching and resources. Everyone who teaches a Diploma subject are sent to IB-specific training at least once.
IB conferences have a crucial impact on curricula for all grades at BSGE, despite the fact that the IB program is only for eleventh and twelfth graders. “When teachers come back, they come back with new information about new changes so they can be prepared to implement them – not to implement them just in eleventh and twelfth grade, but to change what we need to do in seventh through tenth grades too,” explains Ms. Dikes. She believes it’s never repetitive to go several times to the conferences, because every meeting is different, and there is a new curriculum and idea being presented every time. “Each time you go, you kind of get recharged and get new ideas because as the curriculum changes, you need new ideas to deal with the new curriculum.”
For example, foreign language teachers sometimes listen to recordings of students speaking the language, or grade sample papers according to new criteria. According to Mandarin teacher Ms. Meifen Xia who attended a conference this year, there are workshops with “2 and a half days of classes involving generally 20 to 30 teachers who teach the same subject.”
Ms. Dikes explains that teachers often wish these conferences could be longer. She would have wanted more time to explore different resources and teaching ideas. Regardless, the conferences are essential parts of the IB teaching experience, and help keep our school connected to other IB schools near and far.