Moving from the UK to Malaysia for my dream job as a PE teacher was exciting but daunting: a different culture, hotter weather and a new curriculum.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) was unlike anything I’d taught before, with its project-based assessments and interdisciplinary approach.
Explainer: What is the International Baccalaureate?
It was my job to link concepts and ensure students were grasping the bigger picture by linking cultures around the world to sports, and exploring their history and development. It took time to get used to.
Becoming an IB believer
At first, I was worried that I wasn’t actually teaching my students anything useful. But in assessments, it was evident that they had learned much more than skills and tactics. My belief in the IB gradually grew.
From Year 7 onwards, pupils were developing the skills to research and draw conclusions.
They learned to work through disagreements, to share responsibility, and to analyse performance, and they experienced first-hand how trial and error are absolutely critical for improvement.
All these skills were great to see in a PE setting and would be useful throughout their lives.
It's essential to invest time in the process. Training time, preparation time, time to assess internally and externally, and time to collect samples of work are all needed.
As teachers, we have all attended meetings that were a waste of time. But in my experience of IB schools, there has been no such thing. We need collaboration time to ensure interdisciplinary learning.
The IB ultimately creates a productive teaching and learning environment, although it takes time and effort.
But all that pays off for our students, rather than simply sticking with what we have always done.
Rachel Ford is a PE teacher in Malaysia