Thank you to everyone who attended the International Baccalaureate (IB) Global Conference, Toronto, in July 2023. We are so grateful to all who gathered in person to discuss Education for an inclusive future.
More than 1,300 attendees from 48 countries met in Toronto with the shared goal of fostering discussions to bring a newfound sense of inspiration back to the classroom. Attendees explored fresh ideas and skills for teaching and discussed best practices for education. The conference’s overarching theme, Education for an inclusive future, provided guidance in exploring innovative approaches to learning and teaching amidst the ever-evolving educational landscape.
Our esteemed line-up of speakers graced the stage to share their perspectives on education through their own experiences and areas of expertise. Their insights left a lasting impression, and we were truly inspired by the heart-warming sense of community.
On the first day, we were treated to an incredible performance by Kelli Marshall, Anishinaabe professional dancer and storyteller. We also heard inspiring teachings in the land acknowledgement by Stephen Paquette, indigenous knowledge guide, from Halton District School Board. It was an honor and privilege to hear the voices and stories of the indigenous community.
Antrina Leeth, Senior Development Manager for the IB, followed with the opening remarks. She detailed the IB’s conference theme of Education for an inclusive future, and vision to solve challenges relevant to the future of students today.
We proudly hosted IB alumni, Yasmin Said, who shared her story with the IB and how it empowered her to be her unique self. Having graduated from the IB programme in 2020, Yasmin believes that while anyone can do what they desire, it is more important to give everyone the equal opportunity to do so. She stated, "IB has taught me that if you believe you can, you will. You have to take that initiative for yourself and put in the work as if your dreams have already come true. IB is greater than just IB, it gives you the platform for which sets the stage for the skills that you need to be successful in any sector of your life."
Our first keynote speaker, Liz Kleinrock, award-winning educator and bestselling author, discussed how to create foundations for antibias and antiracism in classrooms and school communities through self-reflection and practical curricular integration. Her words filled us with inspiration and left us deeply moved by her impactful message:
"Antibias and antiracist education is not about telling students what to think. It's about teaching them how to think by developing the awareness, skills, language, and tools that allow them to make observations."
Watch highlights from Day One below.
The second day opened with a performance from our Community Voice and IB alumni, Yasmin Said. We thank Yasmin for her inspiring presence during this conference.
The General session started with the Festival of Hope Panel, which centered around fostering inspiration, community and action. We heard from youth leaders Roopak Brar, from Collège Miles Macdonell Collegiate, Mahrukh Hassan, from Bedford Road Collegiate, and Maya Mikhael, Founder of Maya's Friends. The panel was moderated by IB Chief Schools Officer, Nicole Bien.
Festival of Hope’s purpose is to create safe spaces for young people to come together and have a voice that inspires action. During this discussion we learned how we can turn fear into hope, build bridges, and make an impact in areas that need change.
We invite all to learn more about Festival of Hope here.
The panel discussion was followed by our community voice and IB alumni, Darren Sheh. Darren is currently a sustainability consultant at Deloitte, focusing on Sustainability and Technology and how organizations can leverage digital solutions to make Environment, Social, and Governance tracking more efficient and effective. He graduated from the IB Diploma Programme at Richmond Secondary in 2016 and pursued a degree in Civil Engineering with a minor in Management Science at the University of Waterloo.
We thank Darren for his profound speech and thoughtful message.
We then heard from our Keynote speaker, Dr Vanessa Andreotti on the topic of climate, complexity and relational intelligence. Vanessa invited us to rethink the role of education in face of unprecedented challenges, and in times characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. We were all inspired by her passionate presentation and important takeaways:
"If modern education doesn’t equip us to deal with and navigate complex issues, we carry those complexities on our back."
Watch highlights from Day Two below.
Finally, we wrapped up the conference with an astounding student performance by Stephen Babin, from Ridley College.
We then heard from a panel of CP experts who discussed the role of the IB in modernizing Career-related Studies in the Americas and around the world. Panelists included Craig Davis, President & Head of College, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific and United World Colleges, Andrea Kulas, IB Coordinator, Farragut Career Academy IB World School, Kimberly Merritt, Vice President, Arizona State University, Dan Seneker, Director Student Recruitment and Retention, Bishop's University and Chantell Wyten, IB Senior Curriculum Manager.
Our community voice, Lachezar Arabadzhiev, founder of SkildLabs, shared the importance of taking risks in the face of challenge, incorporating sustainability in every area of our lives and “sparking the light” in others.
Our closing Keynote speaker, author and award-winning STEM educator, Dr Michelle Zimmerman, discussed the complexities of balancing human capacities during the AI revolution:
"It is okay to be cautious when it comes to AI, as long as you don’t let it paralyze you, or use it as an excuse to avoid the messy and gray spaces. This is where you have a chance to model navigating ambiguity for young people. They are watching."
Watch highlights from Day Three below.
Apart from the general sessions, participants had the opportunity to engage in over 100 peer-to-peer and IB staff breakout sessions, thoughtfully organized into four distinct tracks.
These covered a wide range of the most relevant topics for IB educators and the larger global community today. From educational technology and innovation to inclusive education and well-being, learning and teaching to leadership, the breakout sessions offered abundant learning opportunities suited to the interests and needs of every attendee.
Session highlights included the following:
- Diversity, equity and inclusion in the IB: Sharing our schools’ stories—Dr Michèle Rice, IB’s Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Fidelis Nthenge, IB Director of Curriculum Development, and Lenny Dutton, IB MYP Curriculum Manager facilitated an insightful discussion to explore how to nurture international mindedness and intercultural understanding. This session contributed to understanding more about the issues facing schools on their DEI journey and the role of curriculum development in engaging all students. Find out more by reading the IB’s Diversity, equity and inclusion statement.
- ChatGPT in the TOK classroom – IBEN member, Marilynne Sinclair, discussed the rapidly evolving AI tools and how educators can use ChatGPT to help students navigate the ever-evolving challenges to knowledge, deal with implications of AI generated knowledge, and critically evaluate AI generated responses. We thoroughly enjoyed the discussions surrounding artificial intelligence and it’s impacts on education.
- Building a sustainable school: Leveraging leadership, context and culture – Nicole Jones and Valerie Hardy delivered a thought-provoking session on how they are leveraging school culture and local context to guide continuous improvement. Through capitalizing teacher efficiency, student interest and community partnerships, they have begun reshaping their schools mission to develop strategies to build continuity across the IB continuum. They have sparked inspiration is all of us, with their fresh ideas and perspectives.
We would like to express heartfelt thanks to our community of passionate educators, presenters, exhibitors and sponsors for joining us in Toronto. The success of this conference would not have been possible without you.
See you at IB Global Conference, Washington DC 2024!
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