Tuesday, April 5, 2011
IB teacher certification at OU is internationally knownBy Dan Bodene, contributing writer
At a time when the role of teachers is under a national spotlight, Oakland University offers a well-respected professional development program for teachers that is unique in Michigan, and extremely rare in the United States.
“International Baccalaureate (IB) programs treat teachers and administrators as the heart and the head of the educational process, as professionals who take their positions seriously and passionately,” said Carolyn O’Mahony, Ph.D., Director of International Baccalaureate Faculty Development Programs in Oakland’s School of Education and Human Services (SEHS).
The IB diploma program for upper level high school students was developed in 1968 by international school teachers, led by faculty in the International School in Geneva, Switzerland. “It began as a grassroots movement by teachers and administrators in schools serving the internationally mobile elite,” said Dr. O’Mahony. “Parents wanted a qualification that would be recognized in their respective home countries, while teachers wanted their students to be able to move seamlessly between schools in different countries.”
Today there are more than 900,000 IB students in more than 140 countries. The IB mission is “to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.”
The IB offers a rigorous, broad-based international curriculum within a sequence of three programs for students ages 3 to 19.
The Primary Years Program is for ages 3 to 12, the Middle Years Program is for students ages 11 to 16, and the Diploma Program offers studies culminating in final examinations, which prepare students for university life and beyond.
“What all of the programs have in common is an emphasis on conceptually driven, trans-disciplinary, inquiry approaches to teaching,” Dr. O’Mahony said.
There are only nine universities worldwide offering IB teaching certifications. OU is the only one in Michigan and one of only three in the United States.
To develop OU’s IB certification program, SEHS administrators worked with the International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, which was the first public IB school in the United States when it opened in 1996.
OU’s IB Teacher Award graduate certificate program consists of 10 courses of two credits each. The course schedule is flexible, and includes e-learning, limited weekend instruction and a summer institute.
“IB teachers must have the ability to plan learning experiences for their students – collaboratively. This flexibility in the framework allows teachers to address local standards and encourages them to use local resources,” said Dr. O’Mahony.
An IB Teacher Award is not only a prestigious credential; it also offers other advantages.
For example, the certification program also qualifies as an 18-hour planned program for teaching certificate renewal for Michigan teachers, and all credits can be applied toward a Master of Education in Educational Studies from Oakland.
“The ways of thinking about teaching and learning shared in the courses are best practices, even for educators in non-IB schools,” said Dr. O’Mahony. “People who understand the mission of IB programs say that it should be the mission for all of our public schools.”
For more information on the Oakland University IB Teacher Award graduate certificate program, visit the IB website.