Approaches to Teaching, ATL or whatever you call it! – love it or hate it you can’t ignore it.

All teachers of the IB programme (whether you teach PYP, MYP, DP or the Career Related Programme) are now expected to teach in accordance with the IB’s ideas on Approaches to Teaching.

So how do you go about implementing the IB’s Approaches to Teaching?

How do you evidence it?

I guess the most important question is ‘What are the Approaches to Teaching?’

The IB has released a lot, I mean, a lot of information on this – they have invested time and money putting this programme together – so please take it seriously!

All the information can be found, as you have probably guessed on the OCC – so if you haven’t seen it or looked at, now might be a good time to do so!

The Approaches to Teaching are as follow.

Teaching should be:

  1. Based on an Inquiry Approach
    This is experiential and problem based learning – isn’t that what Chemistry is all about?
  2. Focused on Conceptual Understanding
    Allows you to get to the heart of big ideas (the ‘essential ideas’ to coin a phrase).
  3. Developed in Local and Global Contexts
    Connections between students experiences around them.
  4. Focused on Effective Teamwork and Collaboration
    Allows you to see what the students have and have not understood.
  5. Differentiated to Meet the Needs of Learners
    This allows you to plan for differences in the classroom.
  6. Informed by Formative and Summative Assessment
    Formative assessment allows you to see where a pupil is a point in time – it’s assessment for learning, not assessment of learning. Summative assessment is the good old fashioned end of topic tests.

Sometimes, it is hard to get things in perspective. If you have been teaching for a while, some of these attributes may be new to you.

Likewise, if you are getting great results you may fear that changing how you do things may actually impact on the results – and I would understand you point of view entirely.

However, any good teacher worth their salt probably employs all of these attributes without even recognizing it. For example, when carrying out lab work in groups we hit statement 4 (effective collaboration and teamwork) or you differentiate your lesson (statement 5) when you ask students to write up their lab work (maybe you provide some scaffolding, but the detail is left to the student – this is differentiation by outcome).

So please don’t despair – the IB is not asking you to retrain, only to become more self aware and to try new techniques if you do not currently use them.

In the end, it’s going to improve you and this will rub off on the students as well won’t it?

I’d love to read your experiences of ATL below. Please feel free to share some examples of good practice with us all.