Written By : George K.
The truth is that when you have completed about 12 years of continuous IB Physics teaching, and tutoring you are tempted to share a small part of your experience with students, parents, colleagues and any other member of the wider, now global, educational community.
First of all, it is important to state that I personally consider the IB as the most integrated curriculum that can lead a student to the top Universities of the planet, equipping them with the guarantees of both exam success and further higher studies. This is because the IB stands out for the scientific as well as didactic coherence of the examined units, the increased level of difficulty of its exams and the demanding structure of the side processes such as the EE and the IA. However, if the above inherent characteristics are distinguished as timeless, there are also some new facts that make the role of a teacher of IB, and especially of Physics, manifold important but also demanding. So let’s start checking all these from the very beginning:
The average student studying IB Physics is faced with a big challenge: Choosing the right preparation provider. Someone will say, but this is obviously the school. Yes, but which school? Let’s not forget that we are talking about an international curriculum, aimed at students of all countries, languages, levels, economic backgrounds, social strata and goals. In other words, how can we describe what is the ΄΄right΄΄ school for IB Physics, and not only for it? Even if we assume that we overcome the constant problem of funding from the parents’ side, the question remains whether the required specifications and the special characteristics of teaching Physics can easily be offered to every learner, from every corner of the world.
And somewhere here, the role of the IB Physics teacher comes into the discussion, especially nowadays. A role that starts with the need for a high level of training on the subject, extends to the impeccable use of the English Language and the relevant terminology of Physics, incorporates the need to use digital media and a variety of sources and is completed with the necessary communicability, extroversion and possession of a spirit of internationalized teaching and educational culture. It’s hard for all these to coexist in one person, right? You don’t say easy, but not impossible either. It all starts with the choice of the teacher in question. First of all, his role in a school is radically different from that of a private course, either face-to-face or at a distance. At school, the teacher should combine classroom management skills, experience and ability to use the school Physics laboratory, rational selection and management of available resources (e.g. books, past papers, etc.), extroversion and a cooperative spirit with colleagues, the managers-coordinators of sectors as well as the parents, fluency in carrying out or participating in activities inside and outside the school (e.g. lectures, conferences, workshops, etc.). With the spread of the Corona pandemic, the above role was disrupted, mutated and sometimes interrupted to gradually return to an earlier version of normality.
On the contrary, the teacher who teaches IB Physics in the context of extracurricular assistance must have some differentiated characteristics and focus on some other points. The most important of these is to cover any inadequacies, either of the student or of his school, then to have a multicultural culture since he is asked to collaborate online, mostly, with students from many countries but also to have the ability to pass knowledge, experience, targeting but also the feeling of human touch through a computer screen. Especially, when he is called to help in issues related to the elaboration of the EE or the IA, he can go so far as to turn his… home into a laboratory, using all the technological means (simulations, videos, virtual laboratories, etc.) staying up all night because of the time difference with his students and worrying with them about the final result.
It is reasonable to wonder if such an IB Physics teacher can exist or are we talking about hypothetical persons and idealized situations? Perhaps many consider it difficult to even impossible to find such a person, but the current situation probably helps to find him. The presence and activity of international prestige and high level companies that invest time and money in the selection and training of the most suitable Physics IB teachers, promises, and why not guarantees, that every student who fights with the “beast” called Physics IB is not alone. What is needed is time to search and distinguish the special features that we described in detail earlier.
In conclusion, it is not enough for the modern IB Physics teachers to just know laws and methodologies. They must be good managers of people, situations and processes, fans of multiculturalism and tireless advocates for the best possible outcome for their students. Anyone who believes in their existence has only to start his search…