On January 29th 2021, the Peterson Schools and over 27 IB schools around the world participated in the Internal Assessment Moderation Day for the second consecutive year. With the intention of learning more about the importance and significance of this special day for the IB teaching community, we later interviewed Julián Gómez Sepúlveda, High School Counselor at the Peterson Schools and one of the organizers of this annual event.
The IA Moderation Day, which is held once a year, gathers IB teachers from national and international schools that offer one or more International Baccalaureate (IB) programs of education to discuss and evaluate internal assessment assignments in an effort to provide IB students with fairer and more objective grades in each subject. It also represents a great opportunity for teachers to collaborate with other teachers of the same subject and exchange useful perspectives on pedagogical and grading strategies. In a word, it is a day for valuable cooperation and collaboration within the IB teaching community.
Last year, the Peterson Schools held their first IA Moderation Day at Cuajimalpa Campus. Despite their best efforts to invite all the IB schools they could get in contact with, it turned out to be a small event. According to Gómez, organizing an IA Moderation Day is quite complicated because not all schools are willing to drop their activities one day to go to another school and help other teachers with their grading. As a result, last year’s event had a very low turnout: 50 teachers were invited and less than 30 teachers actually showed up for the event. Nevertheless, teachers from some well-known schools did attend, such as Colegio Vistahermosa and Colegio Hebreo Maguén David.
As opposed to last year’s event, this year’s Moderation Day escalated into a worldwide virtual convention. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have shifted their in-person organized activities to virtual meetings. And this year’s Moderation Day was not the exception. As Gómez stated, “[this pandemic] gave us the opportunity to open our minds and invite people worldwide”. Consequently, 160 IB teachers from different schools around the world were invited to the event, which resulted in a record attendance of 120 teachers at the virtual meeting. Overall, 12 countries, 27 schools, 23 subjects and 166 teachers participated in this year’s event. Truth be told, those numbers would have probably never been reached in a face-to-face environment. The success of Moderation Day 2021 can be summed up best by one of the most remarkable quotes from Gómez: “The world is much bigger than Latin America, Mexico or Mexico City. And this event showed us that.”
IA Moderation Day 2021 started with an ice breaking session, in which the attendees had the chance to get to know each other and understand the rules and dynamics of the virtual meeting. Later on, two moderation sessions took place and teachers were divided into discussion groups depending on their subject. Accordingly, each teacher had a different experience within their respective group, but the overall experience was most satisfactory and “enriching”.
Even though the organizers and attendees had to deal with time zone differences, the benefits of participating in a worldwide virtual Moderation Day certainly far outweighed the minor disadvantages of not meeting in person. In fact, Gomez points out that through this event, they discovered interesting cultural differences beyond the predominant focus on gastronomy or customs. Gomez believes that a teacher’s entire background and experience is present in their teaching methodology, which is why each teaching practice is unique. Therefore, “by getting to know other teaching practices, you also learn about other cultures”. In his own words, he argued that this year’s event provided a space “to discover how other teachers are dealing with the same issue, other perspectives, other views that probably are as valuable as yours, if not more.”
Due to the remarkable success this year’s Moderation Day had, Gomez is more than willing to organize next year’s gathering with the same enthusiasm and commitment he has shown so far. We hope it proves to be even more successful and enriching, and it continues to provide valuable contributions to the IB teaching community. It would be, in fact, a marvelous idea to hold more collaborative virtual events in the foreseeable future and open up more opportunities to virtually bring teachers together even after we are finally able to meet face to face again.
Here's the video recap of the interview with Julián Gómez on YouTube: