At Ecole Internationale Montgomery (EIM) we implement the International Baccalaureate Programme (IB) as our exclusive curriculum along our three school sections, the Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme, and the Diploma Programme.
In the Primary Years Programme (ages 5 to 11), 2020-2021 has been the year where we are fully developing the IB, from our Back to School day on September 2 all the way to June 2021.
The Learner Profile
In my opinion, one of the most interesting features of the IB educational framework is the Learner Profile. This is a set of ten attributes or values that are integral to an internationally-minded student, which the programme seeks to instill into younger generations. At the background of our endeavour there is hope in all of us to create a better society around virtues such as justice and peace.
Among those Learner Profile Attributes, some are more intellectual, while others are of a rather moral nature. For instance, Inquirer, Knowledgeable, and Thinker promote the development of the human mind at school in order to help grasp the concepts that we see in reality; whereas attributes including Caring, Balanced, and Principled describe the behavioural side of the IB learning community member.
In order to structure the learner profile within the primary years, at Ecole Internationale Montgomery we have decided to dedicate each of the ten months, from September to June, to one attribute in particular. All pupils from different years focus monthly on the same value, together with the rest of their academic objectives.
In September the leit-motiv was Inquirer, perhaps the king attribute of the IB programme. October has witnessed a stress on Communicator, a value that is in between the intellectual and the moral spectrum: Aristotle rightfully defined man as zóon politikón; henceforth, we know that we are social beings who naturally live in society as one of our most clear elements of identity, interacting with each other through the use of our reason, will, and memory.
Communication teaches our students to express themselves confidently. They share with their peers the knowledge that each of them has acquired in a clear and hopefully brilliant manner, according to their respective ages. They enhance creativity when communicating, using several languages and in oral, written, and visual form – including proficiency with new technologies. They collaborate effectively, blending individual tasks with teamwork from an early age. And last but not least, they learn to listen carefully, as the skill to learn about the perspectives of others should not be underestimated.
At the end of each month, a student in each class is awarded a certificate for progress on the specific attribute at stake. This shows recognition and feedback for the work done, promotes agency so that pupils feel these goals as part of their own responsibility as learners, teaches by example as a form of action rather than pure intellect, and sets middle-term milestones which are so important at this stage of education.
The young Arthur, for instance, speaks English, French and Dutch. Before coming to Belgium, he was studying in India. In class, he has been distinguished for how he uses words and non-verbal communication to share his ideas and solve conflicts. He is respectful and polite when conveying his discoveries and opinions. We have observed -and fostered- his resilience for adapting to different environments; one can already perceive his improvement in social skills and self-confidence when using a variety of communication means.
On the other hand, Eliseo has chosen to prepare some reading during weekends which he would share with peers of younger ages. All of the EIM staff have valued the generosity and leadership embedded in his proposal. The school library has served as an ideal venue for bringing it to practice. Both the reader as well as his audience have found this experience groovy and to be repeated in the coming months.
Our next learner profile attribute for November is knowledgeable, which we have thought fitted for the season as the Christmas exams appear on the horizon. Surely this will produce a new line-up of motivated IB learners, another exciting opportunity for our pupils and our families, and an ongoing satisfaction for the EIM team to contribute to the advancement of our mission as educators.
By Miguel Toledano
Miguel Toledano is Primary School Principal and Primary Years Programme Coordinator at Ecole Internationale Montgomery, Brussels