The work never ends

I think for IB teachers, it must seem like the work never ends.  The organisation of a typical year has the year 1 and year 2 pressure points at different times, and cunningly, it feels like the end result is that the pressure is on teachers (virtually) all the time.

For the year 2 students, they have now completed the last part of the Diploma (the exams!) and should be taking a well-earned rest… before it all kicks off again with the results in early July.

For year 1 students, the pressure now starts to build up. Having been through this new course for the second time, my own planning has the students doing their IAs now.  The aim is to have the work completed by the end of this present term, so that the write up can be largely done over the summer break. Or if that is a ridiculous amount of wishful thinking, then at least within the first month back after the break.

On the basis that most of the coursework seems to drag on towards the end of the year, getting it done and out of the way should help the students when revision time comes.  However, experience tells me that this will not ‘just happen’ – I will have to push all the way. Students almost always seem to want to take whatever short-cuts they can find, in order to do the minimum amount of work for the maximum gain. While as a life skill, this does have something to say for it (a physicist might think of a sentence that includes the work efficiency), but for IA, minimum effort seems to run the risk of getting minimum marks.

Alongside this, there is the need to get as much done during this first year as possible – so lessons must keep up the pace. Good pace now, means more revision time next year – which is an essential ingredient for ultimately, good marks.

If you have not started the IA yet, my advice is to do soon quickly – if anyone needs about 20 ideas for good IA (my definition of ‘good’ is a practical investigation that has scored well in the past), then contact me and I will gladly send them to you.

Finally, as part of the annual housekeeping, look at the syllabus and identify where you lost time, which topics were to toughest to teach, which have less opportunity for embellishment and work on them – now is the time to prepare the material for the new students starting in September. It is important that we keep developing the way we teach this course, so we can get the very best out of it.

Over the next few months, while the pace of teaching does inevitably slow down, I will look to spend time considering each of the main topics and how I present them – hopefully there will be some ideas for everyone.

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