It’s September and in art rooms all over the world DP visual arts teachers are starting to teach this two year course. I recently received an email from an old friend who is now Associate Head of School at an IB school in North America.
‘We have an extremely talented art teacher who was new to the IB last year and, understandably, had some moderation issues. She needs some guidance and I immediately thought of you as the best possible source…I remember the journals your students produced were amazing and thought she might benefit from seeing a sample of their work.’
For a teacher the first time round encounter with visual arts and the assessment process can be daunting and disconcerting. In any line of work when you start there are more questions than answers and first-time round is when uncertainty – and possible mistakes – can occur.
I suspect that my friend was recalling the pages from student Research and/or Investigation Workbooks), from previous versions of the course, a few pages from which are shown here.
Four years ago I posted a student blog that discussed the differences: INVESTIGATION WORKBOOK, VISUAL ARTS JOURNAL, PROCESS PORTFOLIO etc = BFF
Nowadays I suspect that many more students use an e-journal or e-portfolio instead of – or in addition to – the old physical paper book.
Certainly, my students use both.
What did I write back to my friend? Are you in a similar position to his new-to-IB teacher looking for guidance?
I think that there are five fairly simple possible routes (resource/ideas ‘starting points‘) to learning about the visual arts programme.
Without knowing any of the specific circumstances and whether the teacher had (for example) already attended a visual arts training workshop, I made five suggestions:
1. ATTEND A VISUAL ARTS TEACHER WORKSHOP
Go to the IB Find Workshops site. Between now and December there are 11 Category 1 face-to-face and online Visual Arts PD workshops (F2F in Singapore, Dubai, Houston, Barcelona).
This is almost a no-brainer – attending a training workshop should really be the very first thing on a new teacher’s list of ‘important things to do’ – ideally before he/she starts teaching the programme. In many cases schools will book and pay for this training but occasionally teachers sign up for a course independently (i.e. book and pay for it themselves).
2. BECOME FAMILIAR WITH THE RESOURCES AND GUIDANCE ON ‘MY IB’
It used to be the OCC but the IB have now switched to a new and improved online site called My IB.
Your DP Coordinator will provide you with access details (school code, your password etc). It might take a few visits for you to learn where everything is, but this site is a fantastic resource and becoming familiar with the many useful areas will pay off.
3. PURCHASE THE VISUAL ARTS COURSE COMPANION
The book is packed with useful course-specific information (and as a disclaimer, I was one of the authors):
4. SUBSCRIBE TO THESE OSC BLOGS FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
You are here now! I post two visual art blogs every month! Become a regular reader and come back soon!
For IBDP visual arts teachers
For IBDP visual arts students
5. VISIT OTHER IBDP SCHOOLS/TALK TO OTHER VISUAL ARTS TEACHERS
This can be extremely useful.
I started teaching DP visual arts without having attended a training workshop but my new school was happy to fly me to the only other DP school in Tanzania – the International School of Tanganyika (Dar-es-Salaam ) – to visit and learn from their very experienced DP visual arts teacher, Bruce. (He was also a visual arts visiting examiner).
What I got from him was hugely helpful, but either way – whether your neighbouring school art teacher is experienced or not – it can be extremely valuable to meet, discuss and exchange ideas with other art teachers in your area. (Of course, if your school is hundreds of miles from any other school, a visit may not be practical.)
If you are in a similar position – new to teaching DP visual arts and looking for guidance and ideas – I encourage you to explore any/all of these routes!