Crossing over from Authorization toward Self Study

Lately I’ve been thinking about the crossing over of an MYP from being an authorized school toward deep implementation into the evaluation year. Recently inspired by Edna Sackson’s post on building a culture of learner agency using Ron Ritchhart’s 8 Cultural Forces as a framework, the idea of using the 8 Cultural Forces to frame an inquiry into enacting a full MYP began to take shape.

Authorization is based on 33 practices in place at the time of authorization; five years later, we assess ourselves against 73 practices. It’s a long journey and a complex one. How might we inquire our way toward building a successful MYP?

How do we speak about learning?

The MYP has several dimensions to its language of learning. We’re not referring here to the acronyms of ‘IB-speak’ but rather to the specific glossary of concepts around learning, that we use in the IB World.

  • Are we using the key and related concepts beyond their denotation; and with increasing sophistication and abstraction as students progress through the five years?
  • How do we facilitate depth of understanding of the discipline-specific concepts?

And, assessment criteria comprise the language we use to describe learning.

  • How do students reach specificity in their use and response to command terms?
  • How do teachers achieve shared understanding of the criteria and apply these consistently for student work?
  • How does Mr. K apply the same rigor for the skills of analysis as Mrs. P next door?
  • How do we use language to clearly present task specific clarifications so students can operationalize success?

How are our learning environments organized?

  • How do we make thinking visible?
  • How do we architect the place and flow of learning so that collaboration, communication, self-management and other approaches to learning manifest?
  • Are students able to revisit their thinking from the previous session, as they enter and interact in the classroom?

What opportunities might be available?

  • How do students gain multiple opportunities to explore key and related concepts?
  • How do we allow exploration of the global contexts?
  • How do we facilitate meaningful connections?
  • How do we allow for student questions to drive inquiry?
  • How do we provide opportunities to exhibit transfer? Critical and creative thinking? International-mindedness through linguistic and cultural contexts?

How is time designed?

  • Is learning concurrent?
  • Are we able to notice, support and advocate for each child in the time they are with us?
  • Are we providing time to rehearse meaningfully?
  • Do students learn how to manage time in the time they are learning skills and concepts?

How do we manifest the Learner Profile traits?

  • Are we modeling Academic Honesty?
  • Are we inquirers and risk-takers ourselves, embracing new approaches to teaching and learning?
  • Are we striving to be communicators with our colleagues through collaboration?
  • What traits are our students learning when they witness us working?

What routines are in place for learning how to learn?

  • How might we be thoughtfully embedding ATL skills learning and practice during tasks and assessments?
  • How do our assessments draw out ATL skills in our students?
  • In the science lab, PHE field or the design maker space, how do students practice safety?

What expectations might be shared and understood?

  • How do we support motivation through timely and meaningful feedback?
  • How do we make distinctions between formative and summative processes and make these clear to our students?
  • How do we decide on the most accurate demonstration of understanding?
  • How do we allow students to experience the open-ended tasks that characterize the culmination of the programme?

How do interactions nurture the whole learner?

  • How do we support student thinking through conversation? Through written feedback?
  • How do we allow students to recall prior knowledge?
  • How do we provoke thinking?
  • How do we honor thinking and multiple entry points to learning?
  • How do we bring service and agency into our subject classroom?
  • How do we model interdisciplinary thinking through collaborative conversations?
  • How does our subject collide meaningfully with the world and touch the minds and hearts of our learners?

There are more questions than answers as we begin to turn our attentions from authorization to full implementation. There is not one way to co-create the MYP and in each context there are constraints and creative solutions to interpret and enact the programme.

We are, within our Programme, cultural agents. We create the culture of our MYP. And, when we shift our minds toward inquiry and use professional collaboration deliberately, we can learn into a more robust implementation.


International Baccalaureate Organization (2014). Guide to school authorization: Middle Years Programme.

International Baccalaureate Organization (2014). Programme standards and practices.

International Baccalaureate Organization (2014). MYP: From principles into practice.

Featured Photo by Jose Llamas on Unsplash

Author: alavina

Cognitive Coach and author. I simplify personal power so you can use mental resources and find pathways to your goals, be more productive and feel in control every day.

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