This post is by Karen Metcalf, CLC’s IB Coordinator and lead middle school science teacher and was first published in the Friday news.
This fall, our middle school students will travel to Americus, Georgia for a service learning experience. The area is home to the operational headquarters for Habitat for Humanity and site of the Habitat’s Global Village and Discovery Center. Here students will be able to see life-size houses from countries around the world and learn more about the importance of safe housing for all humans.
Coincidentally, this fall also marks our official foray into the implementation of an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (IB MYP) as a Candidate School. It’s fitting that as we join a global community of educators and learners, we are visiting a global village. There are three fundamental concepts of the IB education: holistic learning (promoting the development of the whole person), intercultural awareness (engaging with and exploring other cultures) and communication (encouraging open and effective verbal and non-verbal communication).
As was shared by a middle school student this week, “I haven’t noticed anything different (now that we are an IB program).” Well, that’s really not too surprising since the reason the CLC community chose to pursue IB has more to do with how CLC and IB are alike, than how they are different. IB insists that students are exposed to a balanced curriculum in 8 subject areas that include the traditional academic courses, but also physical education, arts, and design. Though IB prescribes the framework, talented teachers at Cornerstone continue to determine the curriculum, lessons and assessments.
What does change for Cornerstone is that our existing practices will be improved by the continued professional development opportunities, research-based practices, and interactions with an international group of educators. The IB initiative has actually given more time and purpose to collaborations between teachers as we plan for interdisciplinary education and support each other’s work.
The Candidate School status will give us two academic years to try on the fit of IB MYP before we will welcome an IB team for a site visit and evaluation of our program. Should the school and IB both agree that MYP is appropriate for our school, we will become the first and only International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program in Florida’s Big Bend region. At that point, the finest students and the finest middle school in Tallahassee will be formally recognized as world-class.
I encourage you all to learn more about the IB MYP. To date, four of our middle school team members have completed a month-long online workshop in one of the eight subject areas. I have been trained with other IB Coordinators at a three-day live workshop. The entire faculty (preK-8) have participated in an IB-led training workshop and will be able to share how they feel this implementation affects teaching and learning at your students’ grade level. Several parents were also present at this training and can give you their impressions from the parent perspective. As the CLC IB Coordinator, I am at your service to help you learn more about the IB MYP at Cornerstone. Fact sheets with more detailed information about IB MYP will be available on curriculum night.