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Keeping Staff in the Loop

In theory, all the DP teachers in your school should be regularly referring to TOK during lessons, and helping students to make explicit links to what they are covering in TOK classes. In practice, it’s easy for teachers to overlook TOK, and fail to incorporate its aims as they meet the demands of their own subjects.
One of the essential jobs of a successful TOK coordinator is therefore to communicate what’s going on in TOK, keeping other members of staff up-to-date with what you are covering, providing them with resources that they can use in their lessons, and even training them to bring TOK ideas into their classroom. Here are some ideas about how that can be achieved.

Faculty meetings & emails

TOK should have a central place in your faculty meetings, with a regular slot being given to the TOK coordinator to keep everyone up to speed with what’s being covered. This means referring to unit titles, and how their content can be reinforced by other teachers. You can obviously follow this up with emails summarising what you have said, and possibly links to the RLSs you’re looking at.

TOK noticeboard

It’s also helpful to have a TOK noticeboard in your staff room, serving a similar purpose to above. Given the frequency with which you move through different questions, topics, and concepts, a whiteboard is the most practical (not to mention most ecological) type of noticeboard to keep people up-to-date.

Pre-unit outline

Before each unit, it’s helpful to send out an email to announce a change of topic, and explain how the question or unit topic under consideration could integrate with other subjects. As we’ve discussed in the Structuring your TOK course page, this is where it pays dividends to create a structure for the course that is accessible by all teachers at all times. Having unit titles that are based on the elements of the course means there is only a limited amount of time most teachers can take part in TOK, whereas following a question-based approach to units means everyone can offer input at any point.

Newsletter

One resource that you can offer other teachers that will help them to bring TOK into their classroom is the monthly newsletter published by theoryofknowledge.net. There are two versions of this:
  • The free version, offering 8 different RLSs, one of which is presented in an ‘unpacked’ form
  • The premium version, with 15 unpacked RLSs, and five further ‘quick’ stories
RLSs are linked to relevant aspects of the course, and to other DP subjects, allowing all teachers to quickly identify which ones could be incorporated into their lessons. KQs are also offered, helping teachers to direct discussion and get students thinking along TOK lines.

Workshops

At the beginning of the academic year, you should be provided with an opportunity to deliver a TOK workshop for teachers who are unfamiliar with the course (or the DP in general). This workshop could focus on the following key aspects of the course:
  • The philosophy behind TOK, linking it specifically to the IB Learner Profile
  • The aims and structure of the course
  • How TOK is designed to integrate the different strands of the DP
  • The two forms of assessment in TOK
  • The role of KQs and RLSs in the course
You should also aim to follow this up later in the year by deepening teachers’ understanding of the last of these points, specifically, the concept of second order KQs.
In addition, you could also provide separate departments with subject-specific ‘mini’ workshops, that discuss how to incorporate TOK approaches and content within the context of their subjects.

Dedicated DP integration resources

Theoryofknowledge.net now produces a ‘DP Integration Tool’, which provides all DP teachers with the means to bring TOK ideas into their classes. It does this via links to articles, quotes, TED talks, and an outline of TOK concepts relevant to their subject.