Saturday, October 20, 2012

Reflections on my first IB workshop

The Renaissance Centre, Detroit. MI. Dianne McKenzie CC


This blog has been quiet over the past few weeks as I was extremely busy preparing for my first IB MYP workshop which was held in Detroit, Michigan, USA. This is 12623kms / 7845 miles from Hong Kong and involved many hours of travelling to and from.

Detroit is an interesting city, it used to have a thriving population of many, but is now down to under 1 million and it is noticeable in the lack of people and cars on the wide roads built for big cars that were once the life of the city. I unfortunately did not get much time to look around as I was so busy preparing and presenting. I mainly stayed in the Renaissance Centre, which in itself is quite an intriguing complex of buildings having built in the 1970's with a futuristic theme of the time - reminding me of the Jetson's cartoon.

I had never been to an IB or any other training event quite like it. Over 350 participants, mostly staying in the Renaissance Centre, with 18 concurrent workshops being led by IB Workshop leaders from all over the North America's (including Canada), plus me. All the participants ate breakfast and lunch together, spent the day learning, then socialised in the evening. It was like a conference, but not quite the same. It was logistically a huge event to organise with the travel arrangements, hotel, catering and workshop requirements, and everything went smoothly. It is a special skill set that event managers have to be able to manage all of these elements and still be calm.

The support from the MYP field reps was just fantastic, I learned so much just from talking to them and from the other workshop leaders. Being relatively new to the IB world, it was refreshing to see the enthusiasm from these masters who had been with the programme for many years.

It was also a learning experience for me in leading a workshop on such a specific area of the IB - the MYP. The Librarian workshops I have attended in the Asia Pacific region are continuum workshops where we have librarians from all three programmes in one workshop due to the numbers. The IB Americas have a large number of MYP schools, and this workshop was specifically tailored to the Librarians needs and understandings of the MYP and how the library can contribute and is an essential part of the running of a successful programme. The more I learn about the MYP, the more I love it!

The total workshop was 10 x 90 minute sessions over 2.5 days. My challenge was to avoid chalk and talk style teaching in all of these sessions so each session was based on inquiry learning and was to be a workshop with much discussion and learning from each other. Lots of planning involved and much  research on my part.

For many of the participants it was their first time to an IB workshop, and for others, the first time for an MYP workshop. There are changes happening in the MYP where the librarian is mandated to take a larger role in helping to deliver the curriculum where collaboration and co teaching are at the core. As we progressed through the workshop some of the comments & questions from the participants reflected some of the problems that appear all over the world - time, money & support required to deliver the basics of a good library programme. I was shocked to find that some of these libraries receive only $3,000USD a year in funding, they are the only librarian in a school of over 2,000 with no support staff. How on earth can they do anything but survive on a daily basis?

We discussed ways to document what you can and can't deliver with the resources, doing monthly reports, creating an annual report, making time for meeting with your line manager, creating an annual plan. Create a vision of the type of programme you would like to develop and what you will need to get there, then give it to the powers that be. Using free resources as information sources, being creative on your resource supplier and most importantly using the IB documents to support your plan of action. The fundamentals of the MYP programme were also covered and how they could align their library programme with their new understandings about the MYP.

I hope they left the workshop feeling empowered rather than overwhelmed. It was nice to receive an email from one of the participants soon after the workshop which indicated that she took some of the tips we discussed and is now working with her MYP Co-ordinator to reformat the Academic Honesty policy for the whole school. It is baby steps but a start into playing a bigger part in the school.

I think I have managed to combat jet lag and I am now now into planning for the next workshop in November in HK with the IB Librarians across all programmes. Always learning and moving forward.

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