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Interview: IB Diploma Program

As CFIS’s new IB Diploma Programme Coordinator, what will you be doing to get CFIS ready for the review process?
As an IB candidate school, we have two years to prepare for a review for CFIS to become an authorized IB school. Once this occurs, we are on track to offer the IB diploma programme in September 2019 for our Grade 11 students.

An IB coordinator is responsible for overseeing the entirety of the IB diploma such as curriculum, program delivery, adherence to IB values like the student learner profile, exam administration, the extended essay and the creativity, action and service portion of the diploma.

What was the focus of your training last summer, and who attended? 
The training at the Florida Association of IB World Schools (FLIBS) was fantastic.  As one of the largest multi-day IB conferences in North America, it provides professional development to all who are involved in IB, be they teachers or administrators. It was a chance for administration and faculty to gain an in-depth understanding of the aims of the programme. I would describe the two-and-a-half day experience as “information overload,” but not in a pejorative way. Attendance at FLIBS gave me a much better perspective as to the IB coordinator’s expectations and roles, and to truly flesh out what’s written on my job description.  

What are the benefits of IB for senior high students?
Here’s what I’ve discovered at FLIBS, and it’s actually been publicly stated by M. Mousseau and Mme. Dorrance a number of times in presentations in the 2016-17 academic year: CFIS students are IB students, and CFIS is an IB school. Our students are already doing much of what is expected of an IB student. Our school’s mission and values align with those of the IB, and our program delivery at the high school level is as robust as any IB Diploma Programme. The IB programming will enhance our current curriculum, but more importantly, it will validate all of the great work our high school students and teachers are doing, and have been doing since the inception of our senior high program.

What are some of the benefits of the program to teaching and learning?  
As we learn more about the IB Diploma Programme, we come to see that our work to become an authorized IB school will not be as daunting as some may expect, since CFIS already fulfills many of the expectations of an authorized IB school. IB takes teacher networking very seriously. For instance, I have already been contacted by another school’s IB coordinator to help guide me through the process of gaining our authorization. Furthermore, IB provides its teachers access to the Online Curriculum Centre which includes curricula, IB-related news, teacher resource exchange, forums, the IB store and IB workshop and events calendar. This will be a great networking and practice-enhancing opportunity for CFIS teachers. 

Will IB dovetail with CFIS’s current curriculum? 
Much like the Advanced Placement (AP) program CFIS offers its senior high students, almost all that is taught at the 20 and 30 levels from our Alberta Education courses fits within the IB courses. Again, like AP, there are some extra topics of study that will need supplemental class time for learning. 

Within the next year or so, prospective CFIS IB teachers will carefully examine the IB curricula within their subject domains to determine how much overlap, if any, exists with our current program offering and how much supplemental time would be needed to fulfill the IB course requirements. This should not be too daunting of a task, since most of the prospective IB teachers at CFIS have already completed a similar process with the implementation of the various AP courses that we have offered at the school.

What do you think the biggest change might be for CFIS’s current program delivery?
I predict two significant changes. The first is the inclusion of Theory of Knowledge as both a course and an overarching philosophy in all of our IB courses. The next natural step is to embed this philosophy within the rest of our senior high programming. Second, our current senior high timetable will need to go through some modifications to best accommodate our potential IB students. Completing the full IB diploma is no easy task for students, therefore we want to ensure the timetable serves our students and teachers in the most efficient and manageable manner. 

What are you most excited about for teachers and for students? 
For one, I’m excited to get international recognition for all of the accomplishments and great work that we already do at CFIS. This also opens up our doors to a variety of possibilities such as inviting IB students from around the world to come to our school via exchange – possibly through the Round Square program. It provides an opportunity for teachers to explore new curricula but, more importantly, to reflect on and enhance their own teaching practice as they negotiate with the IB teaching philosophy.

What do you hope to personally bring to this program’s implementation? 
I wish to bring a top-quality service and product to CFIS. With the help of my colleagues, my goal is to lay a solid foundation for the IB Diploma Programme. For our community, I want to build on the sense of positivity and excitement that already exists for this program. 

What are the next steps in the process towards becoming an authorized IB School?
For now, the goal is to become an authorized IB school, and to do so means that we need to achieve a number of standards. This is similar, but less onerous, to what we had to do for our CAIS accreditation. Year 1 will mostly involve learning about the details of the program and ensuring teachers are trained in IB methodology. There is a lot to learn, read and figure out.