What it means to be an International Baccalaureate Teacher (New Study)

Firstly, I want to be clear about one thing. I have long been very vocal in my belief that the International Baccalaureate is the best system of education that exists on the planet we call Earth. I truly believe that, and more importantly, the body of evidence that supports my contention is overwhelming, compelling, and as conclusive as it can possibly be.

I won’t go into a long list of supporting facts. It’s enough for me to share with you that the IB has over a million students, in about 3,500 schools, in 144 countries. In terms of sheer numbers and geographical diversity, no other education system comes close to replicating what the IB has been able to achieve.

In terms of quality education, I can tell you that IB graduates are highly sought after by universities around the world, including the top universities such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, etc. Again, in my humble opinion, the IB has the world’s best education system.

Now, you may wonder why the world won’t simply adopt the IB as a global system. As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them. Yet the reason for not adopting the IB as a global system is not hard to understand. In any given country, there are larger issues such as national identity, cultural heritage, traditions, customs, etc., that take priority, and by no means can be ignored.

Therefore, it would be wise to take a look at the International Baccalaureate education system, in much the same way that the world takes a close look at the system of education in Finland, Singapore, Korea, China, etc.

The idea is to learn what makes these education systems as good as they are, and what can you “transplant” into your national reality.

Recently, for example, the number of IB schools in the USA has doubled. This is easily explained when one takes a look at the results in terms of how well the IB schools perform the task of educating students. To illustrate this point, there were forty one (41) IB schools in the 2013 US News and World Report’s Best US Public High School Rankings. That’s an absolutely amazing statistic by itself. However, it’s even more mind boggling when I tell you that over the past 45 years the IB has consistently, year in and year out, achieved such amazing results…

In sum, I strongly feel that the IB system of education merits a much closer look than the world has given it to date, yet I am sincere in recommending that for those who are willing to learn from a highly successful system, the IB will provide many useful insights into teaching and learning at a high level of achievement, for all students, for any education system in crisis or simply looking for a way forward…


New study explores what it means to be an IB teacher

Source: the International Baccalaureate (IB)

19 March 2013

IB Logo

IB Logo

Researchers at the International Baccalaureate (IB) set out to learn what ingredients go into making an IB teacher an IB teacher — to better understand the perspectives and attributes of this effective, dedicated corps of educators.

Researchers Liz Bergeron and Michael Dean used an online survey, focus groups, and document review to improve current understanding of teaching in IB programmes, compared to commonly held more general beliefs about effective teaching.

Their findings, reported in the study, “The IB teacher professional: identifying, measuring and characterizing pedagogical attributes, perspectives and beliefs” support the assertion that IB teachers approach the whole student with inquiry-based instruction, and with the intention of shaping their students into socially responsible citizens.

“This study supports what we in the IB community have long known: IB teachers are themselves lifelong learners who aim to develop the same keen interest in their students,” says Chief Academic Officer Judith Fabian, International Baccalaureate. “IB teachers approach their students with creativity, flexibility, openness, care and compassion. Their pedagogical approaches and belief systems are at the core of their excellence as teachers.”

The survey sample included 3,184 IB teachers who completed The Teaching Perspective Inventory (TPI) developed by John Collins and Daniel Pratt; a widely used instrument of self-examination that allows for comparison against a population of non-IB teachers.

Each respondent received a profile report on both their dominant and recessive perspectives from a total of five TPI perspectives characteristic of teaching practice: transmission, apprenticeship, developmental, nurturing and social reform. As a unit, the average IB teacher profile has nurturing as its dominant perspective, backed up by apprenticeship and development.

Although this pattern is similar to the general primary and secondary teacher population, IB teachers were found to score higher than 60 percent of their peers on not one, but four perspectives: social reform, developmental, apprenticeship, and transmission, suggesting that IB teachers identify with these four perspectives more than the average teacher.

In focus groups and open-ended survey items, IB teachers defined their attitudes, perspectives and beliefs with words and phrases that fell under seven central themes:

– international-mindedness,
– open-mindedness,
– flexibility,
– teaching approach/skills/beliefs,
– collaboration,
– universality of good teaching and,
– love of teaching.

“IB teachers sustain their commitment to professional development throughout their careers,” states Anthony Tait, Director of IB Professional Development.

“They model a culture of lifelong learning and continuous improvement that not only benefits their own professional and personal growth but also improves learning experiences and outcomes for all IB students.”

Content analysis of IB documentation was undertaken to identify the teaching approaches, beliefs and tools that the IB promotes. Of the codes that emerged from the analysis, the IB teaching approach emphasis was on making connections, inquiry, and student-centeredness.

The IB teaching beliefs included the words global, cultural, whole student and sense of social responsibility. The tools the IB encourages in effective teaching were identified as reflection, collaboration, assessment, and adaptability.

Commonalities among the IB documentation, focus groups, survey results, and a review of the broader educational literature include: focus on the learner, and a combination of creativity, fairness, flexibility, openness, caring, and knowledge.

Nonetheless, international mindedness as a teaching perspective is more strongly emphasized in IB teaching.

By combining this quality with inquiry-based teaching and social responsibility, the IB has created its own unique teaching identity.

Put simply, if IB teachers could be meta-tagged by the words that best describe their attributes, perspectives and practices, they would be tagged with inquiry, global, whole student, connections, social responsibility, creative, and flexible.

Find the research summary here and the full research report here.

About the IB

Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a not-for profit foundation, which offers four high quality and challenging educational programmes for a worldwide community of schools.

For 45 years, IB programmes have gained a reputation for rigour and high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalized 21st century, and for helping to develop citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world.

Currently, more than 1 million IB students attend nearly 3,500 schools in 144 countries.

For more information, contact:

Nancy Light
Email: nancy.light@ibo.org
Direct: +1 301 202 3114

About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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