FAST TRAIN Recognized by International Baccalaureate Organization

Posted: November 16, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Amy Biderman

Mason’s Center for International Education in the College of Education and Human Development has received recognition from the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) for a series of graduate courses in the FAST TRAIN elementary education program.

As a result, all elementary program graduates will qualify for the IBO’s Teacher Practitioner Award after completing the course work and one year of teaching in an IBO-authorized school.

George Mason is the first university in North America and the only university in the United States to receive IBO recognition for its graduate programs. Only the University of Melbourne in Australia shares this status.

Jonathon Marsh, head of the IBO’s professional development division, says the organization is piloting a new teacher award scheme in cooperation with universities around the world.

“The scheme seeks to provide opportunities for teachers to gain formal acknowledgement from the IBO for their ability to teach international baccalaureate programs,” he says.

The Teacher Award scheme recognizes teachers’ achievements and commitments to their professional learning while implementing IB programs. It was developed in conjunction with postgraduate programs such as FAST TRAIN that focus on building understanding of the IBO’s programs and their role in international education.

“The IBO’s award program is a good fit for us,” says Bev Shaklee, director of Mason’s Center for International Education and academic coordinator for the FAST TRAIN program. “The philosophy is congruent with our thinking on best practices for teachers in international schools.”

Shaklee explains that FAST TRAIN incorporates international baccalaureate (IB) themes into its curriculum. “These include our focus on inquiry-based learning, reflective practice, research and social justice,” she says.

FAST TRAIN participants
FAST TRAIN graduates celebrated completing their summer session. Twenty-four students from around the world enrolled in the program.
Creative Services photo

“That’s part of the international baccalaureate’s attraction. Not only will students become well-qualified elementary teachers by Mason and Commonwealth of Virginia standards, but they will be eligible to be recognized by international standards as well.”

Lynn Walker Levy, FAST TRAIN administrative coordinator, adds, “Having a credential recognized by the IBO that gives teachers a state license and a master’s degree from one institution is key to obtaining great jobs around the world.”

Shaklee notes that Phase II of the program with the IBO will entail creating postgraduate course work for practicing IB professionals. This course work will also be directed toward understanding and implementing the standards of the Teacher Award Scheme, as well as actively engaging in reflective practice and action research in the teachers’ schools.

Founded in 1968, the IBO works with 1,888 schools in 124 countries. More than 486,000 students from age 3 to 19 are involved.

This article appeared in a slightly different form in CEHD Magazine.

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