Leading a workshop

By Friday, December 16, 2011 , 0

To become a workshop leader you need to apply to the IB through the OCC website. Experience with the programme is required.


Preparation leading to facilitating a workshop is a three to five month process that starts with an invite to a given workshop/destination. I was excited when asked in the summer to go to New Orleans for December 9. You then prepare your workbook online, and submit so that it can be printed in the locality of the given workshop well ahead of time. You also have to organise with the IBO travel agents appropriate flight details etc. I also email the participants once email addresses are finalised and send out a Google questionnaire, invite them to share a DropBox folder to add resources, and also a Diigo group where URL favourites can be shared.

I also take some ICT material to expose the participants to a quick internal assessment lab building upon those issues raised in previous sessions and hopefully re-inforce through the doing what problems students have when carrying out Design labs. I was also asked to take a projector and I take my laptop with my resources etc.

The night before you start there is a meeting / briefing for all workshop leaders followed by a dinner. That night is generally a sleepless night as the anxiety builds and the wish to give a good experience to all participants can rob you of some sleep.

Meeting the participants is exciting as the first session can determine the success of the workshop. In New Orleans I quickly discovered that I had people who had never heard of PYP and one person who had recently been trained to be a Chemistry workshop leader out of a group of 24 in a badly set up room. I try to give as many hands on experiences as possible; Jigsaw sessions, think, pair, share and “circle the sage” where the expert teaches a group…

At the end of the first day I was exhausted. I went out to Bourbon Street with some colleagues and then was back in my room finalising my presentation for the following day based upon the group I had. My second day is always my favourite day as the participants carry out an experiment in new groups and we unravel the rubrics for the IA. The final day is often related to issues that are still important but not directly related to what must happen on the “chalk face”, so to speak.

By lunch time of the third day there is a mad rush to leave and get to the airport. Some participants have left early and the final session becomes a debrief with a bit of an anti-climatic feel. I was told that some really liked the IA exercise and others wished for more led activities. All had valid points but in a group of 24 how is it possible to satisfy the requirements of all.

I really enjoy helping people benefit from my experiences. There are one or two questions asked I occasionally struggle to answer and others that always pop up. I see workshops not as providing the answers to all questions but rather the platform upon which the right (informed) questions can now be asked. Not necessarily during the workshop but in the time after. That is after all the measure of lifelong learning to which we all aspire…

Happy Holidays…

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