IB coordinators keep curriculum moving forward

Meet UCC’s dedicated International Baccalaureate Programme coordinators and learn why they love their work.
Dianne Jojic, Primary Years Programme

Dianne Jojic joined UCC in 1998 as its very first Grade 2 teacher as the Prep expanded to include all elementary school grades. She taught previously in Hamilton and in Europe.

At the Prep, Jojic taught both Grades 2 and 4 before taking on the position of IB coordinator for PYP (Grades SK to Year 5) and overseer of its curriculum. She meets with Prep faculty during each eight-day cycle to assist teachers in documenting the learning that is unfolding and to determine whether the curriculum is rolling out smoothly. Jojic helps them meet any challenges that may arise and will lend a hand in the classroom, teaching a theme or segment as a way of supporting her colleagues. She regularly co-teaches Year 5, focusing on the students’ PYP exhibition projects.

“One of the things I love about UCC is the continual change and growth being fostered,” she says. “I also love the creativity demanded by primary education. I have the opportunity to innovate and reflect afterward on whether the changes were a success or not.”

Jojic, together with her fellow coordinators and Academic Dean Julia Kinnear, form the IB’s academic program team and they meet regularly to discuss the entire curriculum, giving Jojic a wider view and the opportunity to develop whole-school initiatives.

She is a strong supporter of the IB’s concept-driven curriculum, noting that it encourages students to understand not only the information they are learning, but why it matters.

“They think about things more deeply,” she says. “As one of our students told me, ‘You make me think harder here.’”

When she is not in meetings or in the classroom, Jojic can be found working with the Admission team or coaching basketball at the Prep.

Joe Smith, Middle Years Programme

Joe Smith is in his third year at UCC serving the MYP (Years 6 through 10). He came to UCC from Toronto’s Branksome Hall where he taught design and worked with that school’s MYP. He currently teaches a Year 10 design course while overseeing the MYP curriculum and has the task of preparing for a formal IB review that determines whether UCC is authorized to be an official MYP school, the final step in UCC’s overall IB authorization.

“Our MYP teaches the Ontario curriculum within the IB framework,” Smith says. “The IB is distinctive due to its global context, its focus on inquiry-based learning and its support for project-based learning.”

Smith is also responsible for working with the personal project coordinator to match students with mentors for their MYP personal project and for facilitating collaboration across subject areas and grades. He regularly meets with department chairs and subject coordinators, putting systems in place to promote collaboration.

Smith is a strong supporter of the IB’s method of assessing students, a system that uses four criteria for each course that are tailored to the subject.

“Through MYP assessment students understand their grades and the criteria offer them good feedback that allows them to grow as learners,” he says.

He is also involved in planning Project Week for Years 6 and 7, a theme-oriented week that helps students explore a topic in-depth from a variety of angles. This spring, Year 6 students will investigate climate action, while the Year 7s will focus on the issue of poverty. Each theme ties into a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal.

“Being involved with the MYP for almost 20 years, I really believe in the program and what it does for students: building empathy, international-mindedness and the ability to listen to other perspectives.”
 
Colleen Ferguson, Diploma Programme

Serving as the DP coordinator (Years 11 and 12), Colleen Ferguson is a 23-year veteran of UCC, where she has taught English and served as the chair of the English department.

Ferguson oversees the DP’s extended essay requirement, linking each graduating student to a faculty or staff sponsor and ensuring sponsors understand the necessary IB outcomes and benchmarks. She’s also responsible for the DP assessment calendar, ensuring that students have no more than four tests or projects due in any one week.

She is very involved in the UCC committee that sets policy and practices and is working on a teaching and learning statement for the College.

“We’re shifting the way we see ourselves as a learning institution and I love that the sky’s the limit,” she says. “We have high ambitions and opportunities for creative, blue-sky thinking and outside-the-box solutions. It’s also an opportunity to be innovative in keeping what is classically good and integrating it so our students get a breadth of experience. It’s not often you get invited to help transform an institution.”

Ferguson teaches two English classes – Year 11 and Year 12 – and is also a liaison for families, boys and teachers. She maintains UCC’s new late policy that promotes early intervention if there are signs that a student is having trouble, providing support, rather than punishment.

Having spent a year teaching at the IB’s United World College and experiencing the programme in “its idealized form”, Ferguson strongly believes in the IB as “an educational institution for positive change.”

“It’s a full-person, full-mind challenge for thinking outside the norms,” she says. “It’s a way to make the world a better place.”
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