SABEH Summer Teaching Blog

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July 24, 2019

Working with the teachers of Beijing No. 35 and their consortium of schools has been an absolute pleasure. Coming from areas including Beijing, Hainan, Harbin, Mongolia, Xi’an, and more, this cohort of teachers is amongst the most dedicated group I’ve met in any profession. During week one we worked collaboratively to discuss and understand the behaviors of effective learners and doers, referred to as The Sixteen Habits of Mind. In groups, students engaged in collaborative strategic reading (CSR) to learn two of the sixteen habits that lead to productivity in the learning and working spaces our students exist in. As teachers completed the readings, they were prompted to use a character analysis strategy to create a character who embodied these two habits or...

“How does our culture shape our dreams of who we are? On my first day of teaching with SABEH at Beijing No. 35 High School, I posed this question to my class. Very quickly we were immersed in a discussion, exchanging ideas about Chinese and American culture, which is exactly why I came to China.   

I have been in China less than a week and already I have experienced so much of what the Chinese culture has to offer. 

Food - I have tasted a delicious deep-fried pork dish, a wide variety of buns, and, of course, the “iconic” dumplings, among many other foods. I have attended a banquet complete with “traditional” toasts and seemingly endless vegetable, meat, and seafood dishes including roasted pigeon, which was new to me and thoroughly delicious.


Yesterday my class discussed the special nature of the adolescent brain and how the development of the pre-frontal cortex presents both a challenge and an opportunity for us as teachers. So today we did some thinking about the methods we frequently use to motivate our students. First, we sorted common motivators into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. It was a joy to hear the lively discussion among the teachers as they debated the nature of more complex motivators such as fear of failure, the desire to please one’s parents, or praise from peers. After the big reveal about what motivators belonged in each category came the true surprise – that so many of these common extrinsic motivators (that we experienced as students and which we were trained to us...

July 18, 2019

After the first day of classes, Chinese teachers identified what they were hoping to get out of the SABEH training program. Many teachers identified the need for students (and themselves) to write better questions to learn about a topic more deeply. To address this need, we worked through the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) as a group. The QFT creates an opportunity for critical thinking by providing a protocol around collaboration and questions.

Using an image, Chinese teachers worked in groups to generate as many questions as possible. Afterwards, teachers identified questions as either “open” or “closed.” We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each type of question. Teachers were insightful, noting that while closed questions do not often...

Climbing the Great Wall yesterday was one of the most-awe-inspiring experiences of my life. There are four sections of the Wall in the Beijing area, Badaling and Mutianyu being the most popular with tourists. We chose to visit Mutianyu because it has a reputation for being less crowded, and it’s the only part of the Wall where you can ride down by toboggan!

Mutianyu is about 2 hours from downtown Beijing, which makes it a commitment to get to. But in my opinion, it’s well worth the trek because it gives you an opportunity to get out of the city and see what life is like for rural Chinese families. You’ll get to contrast the sprawling, bustling hutongs and high-rise apartments of Beijing with the mom and pop fruit stands and mountain homes of the Huairou Dist...

This summer’s SABEH program at Greentown offered a co-teaching model for our week working with the children. This model included sharing the responsibilities for planning, teaching and assessing the progress of all the students in our classes. It also allowed for differentiating instruction and delivery, as well as classroom management. Much of our lesson planning was developed before we left for China, capitalizing on the strengths and expertise of my co-teacher Patrick, a very talented and energetic teacher. The children certainly had the benefit of working in smaller groups, and our teacher assistant/translator saw the advantages of this model.  The coordination of all our efforts had the children singing, dancing, creating, and problem solving, all whil...

My top 20 favorite cultural adventures I’ve had so far in China through my own travel and my time teaching with SABEH:

  1. Ordering dinner when the only Chinese words we know are “Hello”, “Thank You” and “Beer”.

  2. Staying in a hostel in an alleyway called a “Hutong” in Beijing.

  3. Watching our sweet van driver try out his newest English phrase with Cheryl each night.

  4. Successfully using my first “squatty potty”.

  5. Hearing my young students call my name, “Ms. Ahme”, across the courtyard.

  6. Sharing the history of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech with my Chinese teachers.

  7. Visiting a room with paintings of Chairman Mao where members of a local town would have held meetings during the Cultural Revolution.

  8. ...

It is 9:45 a.m. on the 4th of July.  The room is on the verge of uncomfortably warm.  Nine of us sit in a circle, from a variety of educational disciplines; STEAM, Chemistry, Math, IT, PE.  I listen intently as my interpreter helps to bridge the language barrier between the attendants and myself.  The question sounds all too familiar.  A 14-hour plane ride, 3 hours on a bus and 15 minutes in a van, yet, what plagues us is the same; time.  “ She says she is not sure about this idea.  She says she will not have time for this in her class; she needs to cover too much.  How does she make this work?”  I let go a sheepish grin.  What can I say, the concern is genuine and it is a criticism of growth mindset.  When do I have time!...

During our first teaching week in Hangzhou, our SABEH group set out one evening to explore He Fang shopping street. After dining in a local restaurant that had an amazingly delicious dish of cauliflower, we took in the sights and sounds of the shopping street. I enjoyed watching the pounding out of a chewy candy, the playing of a Chinese saxophone, and the grinding of tea all taking place before my very eyes. After meandering through many quaint shops for souvenirs, a trio of us went to hail a taxi to take us back to our hotel. We discovered that getting a taxi to stop for us was not as easy as we thought it would be, as it seemed all the taxi drivers were set on picking up pre-arranged fares. So we headed into a nearby Starbucks to ask for help. Before we...

This year we were fortunate enough to work with students our first week at Greentown. Working with the Chinese students was an incredible experience. They were all very engaged and enjoyed being challenged. For one of the lessons I co-taught with another SABEH teacher we read a book by Ezra Jack Keats called Peter’s Chair. All of the children really enjoyed reading a new American book. The art activity that followed was about the children’s rooms. We had the students create a 3D model of their bedrooms using construction paper. The results were interesting and really imaginative as well. We provided some guidance, but the students thought to create all new things on their own! 

When we worked with the older students, we simply showed a created model and prov...

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July 24, 2019

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