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How to get a TOK job?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by i like bananas, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. Hello everyone,
    Basically, I studied philosophy at university although ended up doing a maths PGCE (via a MEC course) as that was my easiest avenue into teaching. Did a couple of years of maths in the UK but now looking to work in Asia. Been doing some research into TOK and it sounds like id enjoy teaching it far more than maths (close to philosophy etc). However, I gather that most schools lumber random teachers with TOK hours rather than employ specialists. I guess im in a minority as im actually hunting for this opportunity. So any ideas on how I can start hunting for a P/T of F/T TOK job? Or is it a lost cause?

    The absence on the tes job search engine of a TOK option doesn't eally help either mind!
  2. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

    I'm a maths/ToK teacher and I really enjoy the ToK aspect, though it only occupies a small fraction of my timetable.
    I have not heard of a school that offers a ToK specialist, and in some respects I think that's healthy. In my school we have Maths, English, Science, History teachers, all giving it their own little slant. We often ask each other to come in to our class to speak about their own specialisms. We can share ideas and bounce things off each other.
    I think you could be in demand as a Maths teacher who can also offer ToK, but I would word your application carefully so as not to give the impression that your primary desire is the ToK aspect.

    What level do you teach maths? Do you have any IB experience? If you could get some experience and expertise teaching MYP maths (Middle Years Programme) you could look very attractive to a full programme IB school.

    Good luck.
  3. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    A misconception, bananaperson.
    As you are a Philosopher, I know that you cannot possibly be abusing the word 'random' as my daughter and her friends do.
    Nor will you seriously believe that a teacher can be 'lumbered' with a task so delightful as encouraging bright young people to think about thinking.
    Anyhow let me assure you that there is nothing aleatory about our own selection, and that we follow the practice outlined by ian60 above, with whose post I concur in all essentials.
    In our establishment, as in all the best IB schools, once a teacher is a proven stellar performer in his or her subject, with expertise in at least one other area of knowledge and a demonstrably wide range of reading and culture,then s/he may apply for selection to the ToK squad.
    If successful, s/he will join a multi-talented, polymath polyglot team of teachers in the engine room at the heart of the IB hexagon. S/he will also be expected to do missionary work among benighted colleagues who have not seen the ToK light and who need to learn how to introduce reflective theoretical and critical thinking to the delivery of their own programmes.
    So.. find a job as Maths or Philosophy teacher at an IB school, and work hard to deserve the call to greatness. Do not expect your 'number to come up' sooner or later in 'random' fashion.
    Sparah likes this.
  4. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Dude, you said it so well I can only gape in awe and despair at the pathetic post I was preparing in my head until I read yours.
    Fully agree.
    And perhaps just add that TOK slots can be highly prized. Selection is competitive, and most applicants lose out due to sheer numbers. Once someone holds a TOK spot, they rarely seem to give it up willingly, and after someone has proven themself for several years and gotten quite good, a school is pretty unlikely to push them aside for the new kid on the block.
    I've known at least one candidate who paid for his own TOK training course, hoping that would give him an advantage for the next opening. Didn't work, and he's still slogging in the Group 3 salt mines.
    So while I wish the OP the best of luck in his personal and professional endeavors, I must advise that he look for Maths positions, work hard, cross his fingers, and be patient.
  5. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    My New Year resolution - be kinder and nicer to those sweaty miners in Group 3.
    My own salt mine was the play-directing and drama-workshopping expected of every young teacher of English. For a sensitive bookworm introvert to have to strut and fret an hour upon the stage every year was torture, and looking back it seems I sought promotion not out of greed, ambition or will-to-power but in desperation for a rung on the ladder high enough to guarantee exemption from the theatre.
    Which brings us to another pointer for the OP - if you are not really good enough to be selected in the crack ToK team, give the system a run-around and become a Head or Principal.
    Then, like the little boy in the park who owns the football and therefore gets to 'be' Brazil, play centre-forward and choose his team mates, you can allocate yourself whatever takes your fancy. Or take the ball home in a sulk.
  6. Thanks for the constructive reply.
    Teaching maths 11-16 (UK, key stage 3-4) although yet to have any IB experience. Will make sure to present myself as a maths teacher primarily, ToK second. Also got 4 years of EFL experience which shouldnt do any harm.
    The MYP programme looks very interesting...
    Anyway, first things first, better find a maths job!
  7. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Sure, but no harm either in underlining the fact that your degree was in Philosophy. You are correct to assume that your EFL experience is an additional asset.
    I hope we didn't sound too much like a group of Elders barring the gate to the Temple.
    It is certainly true that no school that I've heard of has a dedicated full-time ToK specialist on the books - the timetable will insist that each ToKer is doing plenty of other things as well.
    Just wanted to correct the impression others may have given you, that ToK teachers are 'selected' out of the odds and ends left over when the mainstream timetable has been drawn up.
    best of luck and a very <strike>merry</strike> reflective Christmas.
  8. Various subjects in England are dealt out in such a manner, PSHE from 11 - 16, general studies at A-level 17-18 and to a certain extent critical thinking at A - level as well. It's good to know that ToK is treated in a more serious manner by some people/institutions. Should be more fulfilling if/when I get an opportunity to teach the subject.
    Anyway, merry Christmas.
  9. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Hmm... I might be going out on a limb here, but I don't think it will be all that straightforward for you.
    As a maths teacher, the biggest problem you are going to face is for someone to take you on with a degree in philosophy. There may very well be schools which will employ you exclusively as a MYP teacher of mathematics with an additional responsibility for ToK, but I cannot see a school, given the choice between two teachers, one with a degree in mathematics or engineering and the other with a degree in philosophy, opting for the philosophy graduate.
    If ToK is being taught then it is invariably an IB school and it would be looking for someone who can teach maths at the IB Level. You have no degree in a mathematical subject or experience of teaching at this level, neither of which are going to make life easy for you.
    It may be a long shot but your best option might actually be looking for ToK positions or Philosophy teaching positions. They do turn up now and again. Go to the IB website ( www.ibo.org ) and search for schools in the area that you are interested in and see which offer Philosophy. Then perhaps target them specifically, giving reasons why your background would make you an excellent addition to their staff.
    You could also look at the UWC schools ( www.uwc.org ). They do offer philosophy ( well at least some of them do ).
    Good luck.
  10. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

    That describes me so accurately it's uncanny! Have we met?
  11. Thanks for the reply Karvol, I have had similar thoughts about my MEC (maths enhancement course) actually. Either at IB or IGCSE level people are going to opt for a mathematics graduate, especially considering there's more higher attaining students at international schools and a maths graduate will be able to answer more 'off-curricular' questions. In the UK, where there is a shortage of maths teachers and maths till GCSE is quite frankly pretty simple, MEC maths teachers can find a job fine, but ive got a gut feeling its going to be quite a lot trickier abroad.

    So yeah, perhaps going for a dedicated philosophy teaching post would be my best option for getting a job at all in an international school. Maths and EFL could then act as a bonus. The problem with this is that I have of yet no philosophy teaching experience (due to the scarcity of philosophy teaching posts).

    Anyway, ill check out those websites and see what comes up.
  12. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    There actually are some schools looking for TOK teachers for the fall. PM me if you want the list. I can't vouch for the schools being great places to work, but it may be a start.
  13. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    If you PM me with an email address, I'll email you a copy of the ToK guide and also the Philosophy syllabus from the IB.
  14. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    there are about 8 schools advertising for ToK teachers at the moment.

    and many IB schools are on the lookout for someone to teach Maths Studies, releasing the real mathematicians to teach the SL/HL classes. ;-)
  15. Which schools are those?
    I can only find one IB economics/tok/humanities post on this website.
    Which website(s) are those jobs posted on?

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