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IB - Theory of Knowledge - advice

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by ann5an, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. Hi there,
    I have an interview for an IB Theory of Knowledge co-ordinator post and wonder if anyone has any idea about the questions which I might be asked.
    Thanks in advance
  2. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Er...Do you teach ToK?
    Anyway, those details aside, the typical questions will be along the lines of...
    How are you going to integrate ToK into the normal teaching cycle?
    When will the ToK essays and presentations be done and how are you going to run the course? Dec - Dec? Two years? Dedicated two week timetable to get everything done?
    Are you going to have a teacher take a cohort through completely or will there be a carousel system where different teachers teach their speciality, while all teach WoK?
    How are you going to get all the teachers on board, or is that not how you want to do things?
    How is the impact of emarking going to affect the essays?
    How many hours do you devote to ToK in the school timetable?
    Will there be plenaries for the different AoK?
    Bearing in mind that most students ( and teachers ) consider ToK a waste of time, how are you going to raise the profile of the subject other than " it is compulsory " ?
    I am sure there are others, but these are off the top of my head.
  3. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Full marks to the 'top of your head', Karvol, a thorough response.
    This is the big one. While I would modestly claim that chez nous ToK is not considered a waste of time except among a tiny rump of hopeless-case philistines, it is still true that teachers of other subjects have little idea how much they could support ToK, not by stealing time from their crowded subject syllabus God forbid, but just by 'flagging up' the more theoretical or reflective or connection-making moments that occur along their way.
    The carousel/cohort question can be managed so as to enjoy something of both.
    We have one teacher responsible for each of five groups of around 12 students per group in year 12 (first year IB). But in the third term of year 12, the groups have two weeks with each of the five teachers, who deliver five times on something they particularly enjoy - I do my unit on 'aesthetics' and by the third or fourth time it isn't too bad. Much better, anyway, than I would be on Maths, which is handled by the relevant guru. A side benefit for me as head teacher is the chance to meet every member of Yr12 in the classroom. Then, come September, we're back to our original group at the outset of Yr 13, for a major look at Ethics and then on to the essay (final draft due this week) and presentations (after trial exams).
    The point is, that's one way of doing it, and I'd advise you not to be too dogmatic about how you believe the course should be run/timed/structured. ( A 'dogmatic ToK teacher', should be a contradiction in terms but...)
    I know one school which claims to do pretty much all the CAS, at any rate the 'S' bit, in Yr12 and all the ToK in13, an unorthodox approach which would probably raise eyebrows among IBO watchdogs but which has its logic, and they say it works for them.
    As in all interviews you are interviewing them, and you need to be asking them how they currently have the course set up, what they consider to be their present strengths and weaknesses in ToK, and what kind of development of ToK has already been discussed. At the very least you will discover whether the SMT person interviewing you, cares or knows about the subject.
    In a larger school this can be a major and rewarding responsibility. In smaller schools you may be handed the entire load as 'co-ordinator' of a department of one, which is miserable unless you enjoy working in isolation.
    Good luck.
  4. Jaupua

    Jaupua New commenter

    Now that's the kind of answer I would expect from a HT!

    (I hope no sensitive soul infers criticism from that comment)
  5. Nezelette

    Nezelette New commenter

    I had two similar interviews in the last few weeks and Karvol's questions are spot on. You do need to know your TOK programme very well. Think about whether you prefer to use a textbook or not. Think about the ways to make students' TOK presentations and essays better. Think about the techniques you would use to motivate potentially reluctant teachers who have been forced to teach TOK because there was a gap in their timetable (as is the case in some schools).
  6. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Very important point we missed above. if you haven't seen them, try to get your hands on the three or four standard texts and speak knowledgeably about what they offer.
    We have multiple copies of three texts on hand, to fall back on or to offer support to teachers/students in specific areas of ToK where they are shaky - nobody can claim to be equally adept across the board. But we believe (not dogmatically of course) that no textbook should be used day in day out to accompany the course.
    Or... think very seriously whether you want the thankless task of co-ordinatiing ToK at a school which shows its disdain for the subject in this way. I'm proud to say that we have a 'waiting list' of teachers hoping for the day when there'll be room for them on the ToK team.
    If you're already at an IB school you will be able to go to the ToK area of the OCC and discover what other co-ordinators are bragging/bleating about.
    If I were your interviewer I'd probably ask you briefly to describe the best presentation you saw last year and sketch how you could help more candidates reach this top level. Then I'd allow you one minute to moan (and I would join in) about how those presentations are the most scandalously unmoderated aspect of the entire Diploma.
  7. Hi there,
    I just want to say a BIG thank-you for all the replies to my post. The advice and comments made will be invaluable in helping me to prepare for the interview. I really appreciate your time.
  8. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

    Crickey! I wish I'd asked some of those questions a couple of years ago!
    Still, I have really pushed to be given more ToK next year, I have really enjoyed it.

    (You can judge an IB teacher by the size of his/her <strike>Professional development portfollio,</strike> <strike>ToK,joke book,</strike> <strike>internal assessnent log book</strike>, Pinnochio nose)
  9. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Just as a silly post-script, my inbox contains 12 perfectly-crafted 1,600-word contributions to the sum of human knowledge, produced well inside our internal deadline by the splendid group of young thinkers whom I have been accompanying since September '09.
    The plan was, to sit down yesterday for two minutes with each one of them, carry out a final check, swear the solemn online no-plagiarism oath, and upload them to John Examiner via the IB's new e-delivery system.
    The poor dears could hardly contain their excitement, and even their ageing mentor came to school with a glad song in his heart, but...
    the process does not work. The IB "will get back to us on this one."
    Which means. "when some other poor bogger's ICT system forks up, sit back, feel good, enjoy the show."

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