Having just spent the last three days at a Category 3 Workshop for IB Biology educators at United World College, Singapore I feel refreshed, inspired and excited to get back to my IB Biology classes at school. This particular workshop was an experiment for the IB, usually an IB Diploma workshop is facilitated by one workshop leader with quite a number of years of IB experience; however, not so with this workshop. We had two workshop leaders, Kevin Ross, IB Biology teacher and IB Senior Examiner and also Julian Cremona, educator, ecologist and Head of the Dale Fort Field Centre in Wales.
Julian was the main presenter and although he does not have much IB experience, he was very articulate and interesting in regards to Ecology and Ecological Education. Kevin helped to translate his ideas back into ‘IB Speak’ giving us plenty of ideas for Internal Assessment and Extended Essay topics. (which for a category 3 workshop are the most critical elements).
The participants in the workshop mainly came from all over South East Asia, however, there were several participants from UK and Australia as well! Our IB experience ranged from four years to twelve years teaching in the programme. What a wealth of experience, it was a shame that the workshop was only three days long, because we could have spent much longer sharing ideas and work.
This particular regional workshop also had parallel workshops for Category 1 and 2 Biologists, Chemists, Physicists, and Technologists, and although same were studious, a small minority of teachers from a school not far from mine were less than professional. It really does amaze and frustrate, since as a professional body, teachers are often not well appreciated or recognized, and these sort of antics do nothing to improve that reputation. However, I do not wish to dwell on this topic.
The IB has been pushing the concept of doing as we say, and thus the workshop made full use of ICT in our learning as well as taking the educators out of the ‘classroom’ for some field studies or ‘hands on learning’, which would have to be a highlight of the workshop for most participants, I would think. We visited a managed park location called Pasar Ris which had some mangroves and then later the more natural Sungei Buloh Weltands for some more extensive practise of ecological surveying techniques.
This really worked in a workshop setting and I hope that the IB explores more ways in which they can continue to do this and, the old maxim of “you get out of it, what you put into it’ is more than ever true.