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5 tips for implementing the IB

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5 tips for implementing the IB

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  1. 1. AEL 35 (2)20 teaching T he first question I was asked in the interview for the inaugural International Baccalaureate Coordinator at Canberra Grammar School was, “How would you make the School the premier IB School in Australia”? Just like being shot at, it focused my mind on the task at hand, and still prompts reflection on what I have done and what is still left to do. Implementing an IB program is hard work and highly reward- ing. It means working with a wide range of factors and personal- ities (the latter being the most important ingredient for success). However, the process is also rewarding as it forces a school to have fresh conversations about key issues in education. Although I don’t claim that we did everything perfectly, the process on the whole was successful and student take up for the foundation year has been astounding. From my experience, I would like to offer five simple tips for other schools considering implementing the IB. Construct a narrative It is important to create a compelling case for the introduction of something new as you will undoubtedly come up against the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” The hard work and sacrifices have to have a point and it is important to present the option of adopting a new initiative as a natural and obvi- Five tips for implementing the IB at your school Julian H Jefferys, IB Coordinator/Assistant Head of Boarding Canberra Grammar School The IB appeared to be a logical extension to what was already taking place in the school. Julian Jefferys and IB students
  2. 2. AEL 35 (2) 21 teaching ous decision for an organisation to take. Canberra Grammar School (CGS) is located in the diplomatic and political heart of Australia which added much weight to the case of “going IB”. Furthermore, the school has had exceptional language results recently which added to the international focus of the school and therefore the IB appeared to be a logical extension to what was already taking place in the school. Get a team It is important to realise that change cannot be effectively achieved or communicated to a school community by a single person. Therefore it is important to build a team and foster their potential to influence and inform the wider school community. At CGS we were very lucky to have a number of staff who were already very experienced with the IB and they formed the nu- cleus of the implementation team. They all shared the common experience of being trained, planning the curriculum and gener- ally relied on each other for support and encouragement. Always have the right information Tony Blair said in his recent autobiography that in order to convey a political message, you must say it, then say it again, and then when you think that it has been understood, repeat it. Throughout the year I became increasingly aware of my role as a “guardian of correct information”. It was important to face rumours and misin- formation head on and with vigour. Information is key in a period of change and upheaval in a school and if the supporters of change fail to make enough noise, those opposed will happily fill the void. Plan for success It is vital to set realistic and achievable short and medium term goals and make sure you celebrate them when you reach them. This will give your initiative an aura of realisation and momen- tum. At CGS we celebrated key goals like the number of students who expressed an initial interest in the IB. We also celebrated when the school completed its pre-verification requirements and we were told that we were well and truly on track. Although these points were only markers along a continuum, by acknowledging them we gave all the main stakeholders a chance to breathe and reflect on the success and energy that was emanating from the implementation of something new. Attract attention and build momentum Teachers are the engine room in the process of effectively ex- plaining and selling any new program within a school. Obvious- ly, they are also the single most important factor in the delivery of an educational program. At CGS we offered the opportunity to be involved with the program as a way of encouraging renewal of their expertise and developing new and exciting career pathways. Parents are also very receptive to change. They embraced the IB and could see the obvious benefits of the program and the amount of effort and resources that the school was devoting to its implementation. Perhaps the program tapped into a sense of nostalgia in adults that forced them to reflect on their own edu- cation and ask themselves questions like “Should I have contin- ued to study a language?” They were undoubtedly the keenest advocates for the IB at CGS. Students, on the other hand, can be surprisingly conservative. It was clear that from the outset, they needed first to have their interest sparked by the broad strokes of the program. Then, they had to have the details explained carefully. Ultimately, with many students at CGS, the IB connected with their desire for a holistic education. It also proved, for many, an opportunity to test them- selves and gain recognition. In conclusion, implementing the IB has been an incredible in- sight into the inner workings of a school. Not just in a structural, organisational or surface level but in a deep sense of what un- derpins the fabric of an institution. The mood of an organisation can be incredibly fickle and difficult to read and after this year, I strongly believe that the true test of an educational leader is their ability to stand downwind of their organisation, correctly gauge the mood and then make courageous decisions. It was important to face rumours and misinformation head on and with vigour DISADISA Diagnostic Inventory of School Alignment Principals, how would you like an online tool that allowed you to examine your school’s overall alignment? Welcome to the Diagnostic Inventory of School Alignment (DISA) tool. Developed by the University of Southern Queensland, DISA is a research derived tool for school leaders and communities. The DISA tool works on the fundamental understanding that the key to a school’s enhanced and ongoing success lies not solely with the principal but with the collective capacity of individuals within the school community. DISA’s Features and Benefits: • Comprehensive insight into your school’s alignment • Easy to use with guidelines and support from USQ faculty and ACEL staff • Comprehensive report with graphical representations of findings, compiled by qualified researchers • Available for a discounted rate for ACEL Members Like to know more? Visit the DISA page on our Leadership Academy site today www.acelleadership.org.au About the author Julian Jefferys is the inaugural IB Coordinator at Canberra Gram- mar and he is also the Assistant Head of Boarding. Before that he was the Head of the Humanities Department at Wesley College, Mel- bourne. He has worked and studied in educational settings through- out Australia and internationally. He has begun studying a Masters of Business Administration and is specialising in change management in education.
  1. 1. AEL 35 (2)20 teaching T he first question I was asked in the interview for the inaugural International Baccalaureate Coordinator at Canberra Grammar School was, “How would you make the School the premier IB School in Australia”? Just like being shot at, it focused my mind on the task at hand, and still prompts reflection on what I have done and what is still left to do. Implementing an IB program is hard work and highly reward- ing. It means working with a wide range of factors and personal- ities (the latter being the most important ingredient for success). However, the process is also rewarding as it forces a school to have fresh conversations about key issues in education. Although I don’t claim that we did everything perfectly, the process on the whole was successful and student take up for the foundation year has been astounding. From my experience, I would like to offer five simple tips for other schools considering implementing the IB. Construct a narrative It is important to create a compelling case for the introduction of something new as you will undoubtedly come up against the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” The hard work and sacrifices have to have a point and it is important to present the option of adopting a new initiative as a natural and obvi- Five tips for implementing the IB at your school Julian H Jefferys, IB Coordinator/Assistant Head of Boarding Canberra Grammar School The IB appeared to be a logical extension to what was already taking place in the school. Julian Jefferys and IB students
  2. 2. AEL 35 (2) 21 teaching ous decision for an organisation to take. Canberra Grammar School (CGS) is located in the diplomatic and political heart of Australia which added much weight to the case of “going IB”. Furthermore, the school has had exceptional language results recently which added to the international focus of the school and therefore the IB appeared to be a logical extension to what was already taking place in the school. Get a team It is important to realise that change cannot be effectively achieved or communicated to a school community by a single person. Therefore it is important to build a team and foster their potential to influence and inform the wider school community. At CGS we were very lucky to have a number of staff who were already very experienced with the IB and they formed the nu- cleus of the implementation team. They all shared the common experience of being trained, planning the curriculum and gener- ally relied on each other for support and encouragement. Always have the right information Tony Blair said in his recent autobiography that in order to convey a political message, you must say it, then say it again, and then when you think that it has been understood, repeat it. Throughout the year I became increasingly aware of my role as a “guardian of correct information”. It was important to face rumours and misin- formation head on and with vigour. Information is key in a period of change and upheaval in a school and if the supporters of change fail to make enough noise, those opposed will happily fill the void. Plan for success It is vital to set realistic and achievable short and medium term goals and make sure you celebrate them when you reach them. This will give your initiative an aura of realisation and momen- tum. At CGS we celebrated key goals like the number of students who expressed an initial interest in the IB. We also celebrated when the school completed its pre-verification requirements and we were told that we were well and truly on track. Although these points were only markers along a continuum, by acknowledging them we gave all the main stakeholders a chance to breathe and reflect on the success and energy that was emanating from the implementation of something new. Attract attention and build momentum Teachers are the engine room in the process of effectively ex- plaining and selling any new program within a school. Obvious- ly, they are also the single most important factor in the delivery of an educational program. At CGS we offered the opportunity to be involved with the program as a way of encouraging renewal of their expertise and developing new and exciting career pathways. Parents are also very receptive to change. They embraced the IB and could see the obvious benefits of the program and the amount of effort and resources that the school was devoting to its implementation. Perhaps the program tapped into a sense of nostalgia in adults that forced them to reflect on their own edu- cation and ask themselves questions like “Should I have contin- ued to study a language?” They were undoubtedly the keenest advocates for the IB at CGS. Students, on the other hand, can be surprisingly conservative. It was clear that from the outset, they needed first to have their interest sparked by the broad strokes of the program. Then, they had to have the details explained carefully. Ultimately, with many students at CGS, the IB connected with their desire for a holistic education. It also proved, for many, an opportunity to test them- selves and gain recognition. In conclusion, implementing the IB has been an incredible in- sight into the inner workings of a school. Not just in a structural, organisational or surface level but in a deep sense of what un- derpins the fabric of an institution. The mood of an organisation can be incredibly fickle and difficult to read and after this year, I strongly believe that the true test of an educational leader is their ability to stand downwind of their organisation, correctly gauge the mood and then make courageous decisions. It was important to face rumours and misinformation head on and with vigour DISADISA Diagnostic Inventory of School Alignment Principals, how would you like an online tool that allowed you to examine your school’s overall alignment? Welcome to the Diagnostic Inventory of School Alignment (DISA) tool. Developed by the University of Southern Queensland, DISA is a research derived tool for school leaders and communities. The DISA tool works on the fundamental understanding that the key to a school’s enhanced and ongoing success lies not solely with the principal but with the collective capacity of individuals within the school community. DISA’s Features and Benefits: • Comprehensive insight into your school’s alignment • Easy to use with guidelines and support from USQ faculty and ACEL staff • Comprehensive report with graphical representations of findings, compiled by qualified researchers • Available for a discounted rate for ACEL Members Like to know more? Visit the DISA page on our Leadership Academy site today www.acelleadership.org.au About the author Julian Jefferys is the inaugural IB Coordinator at Canberra Gram- mar and he is also the Assistant Head of Boarding. Before that he was the Head of the Humanities Department at Wesley College, Mel- bourne. He has worked and studied in educational settings through- out Australia and internationally. He has begun studying a Masters of Business Administration and is specialising in change management in education.

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