IB Diploma Student: “What I Wish My Teachers Knew”
In this video, I interviewed Ezgi Ceren Pinarbasi, an IB Diploma student from Turkey who’s in her final year of the IB Diploma. In this video, Ezgi Ceren raises 3 practical issues for IB schools to consider:
1) What’s the point of continuing to simply warn IB Diploma student not to procrastinate…when it’s ineffective?
2) Is it fair for IB Diploma teachers to expect IB students to achieve all the IB Learner Profile attributes, if we aren’t demonstrating these attributes ourselves?
3) What’s the impact of school leadership styles on student well-being in the classroom?
THE INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
THE NEED FOR EFFECTIVE TIME MANAGEMENT TRAINING
ELENI VARDAKI: What is it that you wish your teachers knew about, you know, procrastination?
EZGI CEREN PINARBASI: They knew that this was a problem that they faced a lot. And they kept telling us that we shouldn’t procrastinate, but the thing is it didn’t really work out that way, and we still procrastinated.
Well, I stopped procrastinating this year, so I’m happy about that, but most of us still procrastinate.
Teachers don’t really do anything other than warning us about not procrastinating. I think they could do better than just a simple warning, because it didn’t help us at all.
So I wish there was a way to actually change that, because teachers affect us a lot. And I feel like they could do better than just warning us not to procrastinate.
ELENI VARDAKI: So it sounds like you’d like them to know that, you know, simply telling you not to procrastinate and warning you of the danger is ineffective?
EZGI CEREN PINARBASI: Yes, exactly.
WHAT STUDENTS WANT TO FEEL
ELENI VARDAKI: Is there anything else that you wish your teachers knew about the coursework that IB Diploma students need to do. Because a lot of teachers haven’t done the IB themselves, but they’re supervising the Extended Essay. And they’re supervising coursework. So what do you wish they knew about it?
EZGI CEREN PINARBASI: The thing is that the Extended Essay and other assignments are already stressful as it is. And when you have to hit a certain word count with another Reflection, it just frustrates us more.
And as you said, most IB teachers don’t do the IB themselves. So they don’t know the stress we’re under, and they don’t know the kind of sacrifices that we do in order to complete IB and to do our assignments.
And especially with the Extended Essay Reflections, it was very new for us, because when I started the IB, they didn’t tell us anything about Reflections. The Extended Essay being 4,000 words is enough of a work. And to add 500 words of Reflection to it is just too much for students.
And with the Reflections, what happens is we don’t write what we actually felt during writing our Extended Essays. We try to appeal to the Examiner.
Our personal lives affect the Extended Essay process a lot. And we can’t write about those things because the Examiner doesn’t want to see that. You can’t write how we developed as a person. I mean, I don’t feel like I’m exactly reflecting what I feel, in the reflection.
As I said before, we just try to appeal to the Examiner, and we just say things that they want to hear. And I don’t think that affects our psychology in a great way, because we, in a way, lie to ourselves.
ELENI VARDAKI: Is there anything else that you wish your teachers knew?
EZGI CEREN PINARBASI: IB has things like, you know, the Learner Profile. You have to be Reflective. You have to be Open-minded. And you have to be Caring. Yes, students have to be all of these things while doing the IB, but we need teachers to help us achieve these. And the teachers need to be an example for us. They need to have these profile attributes themselves, as well.
And what I’ve noticed is teachers don’t really have these attributes. They don’t really care about it, as long as students have it. And I wish that my teachers knew that we want to be cared for, because most of them start teaching right away instead of asking how our day is going, if we have any problems. They just dive right in, which most of us don’t like.
I’ve talked to my friends a lot, and they’re always telling me how they wish their Extended Essay Supervisor asked them how their day was going, instead of focusing on the end product. And I think if teachers cared more, we would be more successful.
ELENI VARDAKI: Interesting. So basically you feel that what you need is – there’s an emotional need that IB Diploma students have that goes beyond the simple academic, “Your job is simply to be an IB Maths teacher” or “an IB Physics teacher”?
EZGI CEREN PINARBASI: Yes, exactly. Teachers just focus on what they’re doing and on the product. And they disregard the students’ feelings, or whatever is going on in their lives. So if they were more involved, I think both the teacher and the student could be more successful and would work more efficiently. Even a simple “Hi, how are you?” means so much to so many students, because it’s the little things that matter.
LEADERSHIP AND LEARNING
ELENI VARDAKI: Is there anything else you’d like to add, before we wrap up?
EZGI CEREN PINARBASI: What I’ve noticed is teachers act kinda rude towards us, because the Head of Departments act kinda rude towards them. And the Head of Department doesn’t really regard their feelings, they just disregard their feelings. So that’s what they do to us. So they just kind of bring whatever they see to us. So that affects us, too.
ELENI VARDAKI: Wow, that is so insightful! So it sounds like you’ve perceived a knock-on effect, of what happens when a culture of leadership’s not really caring about the people in their team. And how that has a knock-on effect on students. Which is really deep, because a lot of discussion about how to help students with their learning in the classroom (when it comes to training teachers) focuses on strategies that can be done within the classroom.
Whereas what you’re saying is what would help us is if you also focus on having a kinder atmosphere (in schools), in general. Leadership to their team, and teachers (in turn) to their students. So, a more caring atmosphere.
EZGI CEREN PINARBASI: Yes, exactly. And also this kind of relates to how we met (kind of, I guess!); you found me because I did a TED Talk, and my TED Talk was about procrastination, and the general topic was Domino Effect, and so this relates to it as well. Because if the Head of the Department acts bad towards the teacher, the teacher acts bad towards us, so that’s basically the same thing.
ELENI VARDAKI: Yeah, and I mean, I was so excited when I saw that picture where you did a TED Talk on Instagram, and you were talking about procrastination. I was like, “I want to interview you! This sounds so interesting.” And I’m so glad that you’ve taken the time, because I know you’ve got so much going on, and you’ve also got, you know, exams that you’re preparing for. So thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview.
EZGI CEREN PINARBASI: Thank you for interviewing me, and just making my life better! Because I just love talking to you, because you’re such a relaxing person. You make me comfortable. So thank you so much.
ELENI VARDAKI: Thank you! That was very kind of you to say that. Thank you.
Eleni Vardaki graduated from the Anglo-American School of Moscow with the IB Diploma, and is also an experience IBDP teacher. She’s taught over 3000 secondary school students and over 300 IB Diploma students in the last 10 years. She’s on a mission to help bridge the gap between mainstream education systems and 21st century well-being skills. For youth mentoring, school bookings and free well-being training resources, go to: www.elenivardaki.com or subscribe to her YouTube channel.