“The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural
understanding and respect.” Taken from the IB mission statement.
St. John’s has been an IB world school for many years, since 1978 to be exact. The Diploma Programme (DP) runs through Grades 11 and 12. Most of our Grade 12 students graduate from St. John’s with an IB diploma that is recognized worldwide as a substantial preuniversity qualification. From Pre-K to Grade 5, our students follow the IB Primary Years Programme. Last April, the final IB jigsaw piece was slotted into place. After undertaking an extensive feasibility study about the IB Middle Years Programme, Ray Holliday-Bersegeay presented the study findings to the Board. The decision was made to begin implementing the MYP from September 2017.
So what does this mean in practical terms, and what changes can students and parents expect to see in the next few years? To start with, not a lot. We already do excellent work in our classrooms. The course content of each subject area already merges to fit with the needs of the Diploma Programme; this great work will continue. Students will, however, start to see more connections between classes as all teachers build their units of work around 16 common key concepts. The summative assessments at the end of each unit will be graded by common grading rubrics and the method by which final grades in each subject are calculated will be the same. Teachers will be encouraged to work collaboratively at each grade level to make authentic connections between units of work, and students will be asked to look at ways to turn their learning into some sort of action in the real world.
Learning how to learn is already a large part of our middle years learning experiences. We focus on teaching our students how to learn as well as what to learn. This good practice will be consolidated by the MYP as students have a common set of Approaches to Learning (ATL) practices to work with. These ATL skills follow through into the Diploma Programme. As the MYP develops over the next few years, we expect to see that our students take on more ownership of their learning and, as with DP, they are expected to fulfill a level of service to the community. We already do great work in the middle years but MYP will re-frame what we do so that our middle years students are better prepared for the DP and better prepared for life. St. John’s becomes the first continuum IB school in Belgium from September 2017.
by Maggie Adams, MYP Candidacy Coordinator