February 08, 2012

Teaching to the Test: IB Fever and Numb Face

It has been a busy, busy year. I have been cranking out new ideas and new content left and right... Some good, some barely okay and maybe the occasional "damn that worked pretty good". I dream of my old schedule with only two classes to prep and so much more time to think, to process and to research new ideas. Many teachers have it worse than me, but I am finding four preps the limit of what I can do and feel good about. I have yet to fumble too badly, I haven't forgotten what class I have next or forgotten to prep a class, but there have been a few close calls.

I have never taught in a public school and or truly been a slave to a standardized test, I count myself lucky on that score... This year my wife and I returned to teaching overseas and I deeply wanted to return to teaching IB. I loved the rigor and I loved the depth of understanding needed to receive the highest marks. Yet my experience this year with "IB Fever" has made me want to have nothing to do with the IB. I want to grab the wonderful resources of past IB exams and the syllabus and run away to craft my own course free of the score driven and uber-IB focus that my school has managed to cultivate.

A colleague conducted an informal poll asking other IB teachers "We do so much here, what do you think about getting rid of the extras and just teaching IB and IB prep?" He was referring to sports, mandatory after school co-curricular (such as robotics, math competition, ping pong or rock climbing), ski week and anything else not directly prescribed on an IB syllabi. The overwhelming response was "yeah, sounds great, lets do it."

It made my face go numb to hear it.

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