Approaches to Teaching and Learning

At the heart of all IB programmes lie the Approaches to Teaching and Learning (ATLs). The IB recognises that we must think about how we teach as well as what we teach, and that students should develop the skills needed to develop the attributes of the Learner Profile and to become global citizens. Our in-school workshops for staff or students can be tailor made to explore the five Approaches to Learning and/or the six Approaches to Teaching for one or multiple IB Programmes (DP, CP, MYP, PYP).

Approaches to Learning Approaches to Teaching
thinking skills
communication skills
social skills
self-management skills
research skills
informed by assessment
Workshop leader

After teaching in the UK, Bahamas and Thailand, Malcolm Nicolson became Head of MYP Development for the IB from 2007 till 2013 and Head of Diploma Programme Development from 2013 to 2015. Malcolm initiated and directed 'MYP: the next chapter', the first whole programme review conducted by the IB. He designed the conceptual curriculum model with an emphasis on skills in context. As Head of Diploma Programme (DP) Development, he introduced ATL (Approaches to Teaching and Learning) to the DP and authored DP: From principles into practice (2015) and initiated research into student workload and flexibility in the DP. Malcom is the co-author of DP ATL Skills Workbook.

Sample agenda

Session 1 (90 minutes): Where do ATLs fit into the structure of IB teaching and learning. Why are ATL skills important and what are employers and universities looking for? How do we organise the teaching of ATL skills? How do we map generic and subject-specific ATL skills. How do we engage students in inquiry-based learning to develop concepts through contexts?

Session 2 (90 minutes)How do we assess and report ATL skills? How do we foster metacognition skills? How can we effectively inform our teaching by assessment?

Session 3 (90 minutes)How can we best collaborate and work as a team? How do we incorportate inclusive practices into our teaching? How can we design strategies to teach ATL skills

Session 4 (90 minutes): How do we design units of inquiry to develop ATL skills? How can teachers and departments develop and monitor action plans? What's the best way to reflect and promote reflection skills?


"Malcolm Nicolson's visit was a hugely beneficial experience for our school. Staff were energized and the leadership team has certainly benefitted from the external perspective. We look forward to future visits" - Kerry Gray, Vice Principal, International School of the Hague

"Malcolm has a great vision for the future and how students can realise their own potential in shaping our world. His work can inspire this generation of learners to help create a more restorative and regenerative economy, through a project-based, interdisciplinary curriculum and meaningful connection to your local community.” - Schools and Colleges Programme Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Let's talk!

Contact Malcolm Nicolson directly ( to explore the possibilities of in-school training, consultancy or coaching.

Last modified: Tuesday, 6 October 2020, 8:56 AM