On Being an IB Teacher

Posted by Shauna | Posted in education, IB, learning, motivation | Posted on 02-11-2015

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In the world of international education, to be an IB teacher is to be ‘the real thing’.

When I attended my first job fair in Hong Kong for Search Associates in 2011, that was certainly the perception I had. I left there thinking, “all the cool teachers have IB training, and all the popular schools want them … hmm”. After watching teachers flock to these potential IB school interviews, my curiosity was ignited, and I inquired. I found much information about the International Baccleaurate Program. “Colour me enlightened” I thought, “that’s the type of school I want to work for!”.

I returned to the fair the next day, radiance abounding. I had seven interviews, and was only in my second year of teaching, so this was sure to be a successful day. I knew exactly what I wanted.

Famous last words.

An educational interview is great practice, for one never knows what to expect. That day I had the lovely pleasure of meeting many administrators, from all over Asia. I had questions that were straightforward, and others which asked me to talk about literature, current events, and even one in which I was put in to a theoretic classroom and had to explain the sequence of my class and lesson, as well as the purpose.  “I would like to work with someone, not for them”, I said. “Well that certainly won’t be the case at my school”. I looked back, dumfounded. I finished the interview, and politely declined his offer for a job. In an interview setting, composure is the best strength one can have. Also, it doesn’t hurt to make your interviewer laugh… funny charismatic.

People tell you to prepare for an interview. ‘Create a portfolio”, I was told. My portfolio was a nice way to show my work, but I did not get the coveted IB job that day. Although I had impressed the socks off of the interviewer for my beloved IB school, “I just didn’t have the experience” that they were looking for. “Come back in a few years, and we would love to have you”.

These words that people speak of, “experience”, are quite honestly the most dreadful words a new teacher can hear. Yes, you have your license, and yes you have text-book knowledge, but no, you can not work for my school.

It hurts.

But… life. moves. on.

IB schools have a well-developed philosophy. They follow a highly sought, and intellectually stimulating  set of globally-minded principles. Over the last two years, I have been learning in-depth about the nature of inquiry based learning, all the way from the PYP (Primary Years Program) to the MYP (Middle Years Program), throughout the candidacy of my current soon-to-be IB school. It’s stimulating, though-provoking, and at times mind-boggling; and I mean that in the best way possible, because I continue to learn something new every day.

It WILL come.

signing off,

Explorer Shauna