Teamwork, Dialogue, and Cultural Awareness Key Aspects of IB Programs

More than 700 educators from HISD and neighboring districts gathered at Lamar High School August 1 and 2 to participate in the Houston International Baccalaureate (IB) Conference. The meeting was an opportunity for teachers to brush up on their IB training as they prepare for the new school year, as well as meet and talk with teachers from other Houston-area IB schools.

Teachers honed their skills in collaborative learning, one of the hallmarks of the IB system. According to Ann Southwell, instructional specialist and event coordinator at Lamar, this is key to the IB program. “In the world today, you have to work as a team,” Southwell said. “Otherwise, you’re in deep trouble.” The IB approach encourages students to widen their gaze, both in their studies and in their lives.

Teachers from across the entire IB spectrum, including the Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme, Diploma Programme, and the IB Certificate, attended a variety of workshops including Technology and Humanities, IB Learner Profiles, and International Mindedness.

“One of the biggest things about IB is that it’s student-centered – they take ownership of their own learning,” said Lamar’s IB Coordinator Dennis Gillespie. “Dialogue is the norm, and students are encouraged to ask questions about the material, and even ask questions about the questions.”

HISD has three high schools, four middle schools, and five elementary schools that offer the IB program. An additional nine schools are in the candidacy phase.

The non-profit foundation, which was founded in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland, oversees programs for students ages 3 to 19, preparing them to live and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Some 3,630 schools in 146 countries offer programs for more than a million students.