International schools in Hong Kong

Training to sharpen skills

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 May, 2010, 12:00am

The International Baccalaureate (IB) programme has increased in popularity over the years. More training, such as postgraduate degree programmes, workshops and seminars, is being offered to IB teachers to enhance their skills and knowledge in various areas.

'Teachers of IB programmes need a specialised understanding of the philosophy and theory underpinning the IB education,' says Kay Margetts, associate professor and assistant dean (international), who leads IB courses at the University of Melbourne.

IB education consists of three components: the Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme (DP).

These aim to provide quality education and develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people to create a better more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

'It is very good for students to cultivate their potential and train themselves in higher-level thinking,' says Li Bin, deputy head of the Chinese International School (CIS) in Hong Kong. 'It is more practical and useful in terms of enhancing students' skills and problem-solving abilities.'

The University of Melbourne offers postgraduate certificate and master of education courses in both the IB Primary Years Programme and Diploma Programme.

'These courses have been developed for qualified pre-school, primary or secondary school teachers or principals seeking specialised knowledge and qualifications in IB education,' Margetts says.

'Teachers in IB schools are required to undertake an extensive amount of professional development,' says a spokesman at the Canadian International School (CDNIS). 'In the process of doing so, teachers hope to acquire university credits for recognition of their professional qualifications.'

But an academic background is not the most essential requirement to become an IB teacher. IB teachers should be 'internationally minded', and be able to help students with inquiry-based and interdisciplinary learning, and the development of higher-level thinking skills. 'They should model the key attributes of the IB learner profile that underpins all programmes, including being open-minded, caring, tolerant, reflective, open to different perspectives, and be effective communicators,' Margetts says.

The IB programme's educational philosophy and framework makes it increasingly accepted in schools and universities around the world, Li says. Training and workshops, some of which are offered in collaboration with the IB organisation, are helpful for teachers to keep up-to-date with the programme, especially since the IB is relatively new and there is a shortage of experienced IB-trained teachers in Hong Kong.

As the summer holidays are approaching, schools are offering summer programmes to DP students aimed at reviewing subjects taught in the past year, and preparing them for their next school year. Teachers for these programmes are needed.

CDNIS is recruiting pre- and mid-IB instructors to work with their IB teachers for their summer programme that will be held in August.

The pre- and mid-IB instructors will have to support student learning to prepare them prior to starting the IB DP.

'Teachers of the summer programme are expected to provide students with a curriculum that addresses the needs of the IB DP learner at the standard level and higher level, relevant to the specific programme they have selected,' says the CDNIS spokesman.

Instructors for the summer programme at CDNIS will have experience teaching the IB DP curriculum.

They should also be experienced at working with students in a multicultural setting, possess the ability to adapt lesson plans, have a passion for teaching and a deep knowledge of the curriculum.

'Instructors are hired on a term contract that expires at the conclusion of the summer school,' the CDNIS spokesman explains.

'They will have the opportunity to ensure that they are considered for any positions in the future.'