It’s 6.30pm and Tim is still marking his pile of essays. In fact, he’s only reached the third in his pile of 13, and he’s going back to the first one, now unsure of how he’s assessed the critical content. It’s the first year that he has taught the International Baccalaureate (IB), and he’s often felt like he’s been scrambling to stay ahead of his students.
Unlike other qualifications, you can’t just find a hub meeting and go along to a local school to benchmark your assessments and share resources. The schools that teach the IB can be thousands of miles apart, and teachers rarely meet their IB counterparts face to face.
What Tim needs to do is tap in to the online community. Just a few clicks on a keyboard would take him to an array of IB support for teachers, in the form of digital communities that are keen to help other teachers and share resources.
But where to go for support? The internet is a big old place, and it can be really difficult to know where to start looking for advice. We spoke to IB teacher of English Freya Odell, who works at St George’s British International School in Rome, to find out where she has found support during her first year of teaching the IB.
Facebook is the future
Odell recommends first looking to Facebook for useful support groups. “Facebook is brilliant – particularly because it is a large forum,” she says. “People share their planning in the Facebook groups, so first of all you will find lots of help from the resource section. Also, people regularly share articles or videos they have found that would prompt good discussion related to the IB course.”
However, it isn’t just lesson ideas that Odell finds helpful, it’s the shared expertise of more experienced IB teachers.
“If you have any questions about the course or content then you can post on the forum and there will always be people who answer. It has been my go-to this year,” she adds. “Also, because we have new IB specifications coming in, there is a lot of sharing of ideas about how to plan the new course and approaches. It’s a really friendly and helpful forum.”
Another great place to look for support is in the IB programme communities [LINK?], which have been created to allow teachers to “join the discussions, network, and share expertise and tips.”
You can also ask questions directly to the International Baccalaureate themselves via the IB ‘ask a question’ page.
Maintain your digital connections
Conferences can’t happen every week, so when you do get to speak to other IB teachers, you have to make the most of it.
“Geographical distance can make it really hard to see other IB teachers regularly,” Odell says. “So I’m hoping that things like ResearchEd Rome and other IB training events will mean I can make more contacts to share planning and resources with.”
Use these opportunities to build up your list of digital contacts.
Add to the chat
Sometimes it is helpful to discuss things privately, especially if you have a problem with the course that you wouldn’t particularly want to broadcast. In these cases, private chat groups are a good option.
“We have a private direct message group, where you can always ask for help and will then be inundated with support,” explains Odell. “It’s perfect for asking those simpler questions – the sort that you might not want to bother other people with over email.”
New to teaching the IB? Check out our IB hub for a range of resources and useful information.