Learning is a two-way street
Signing up for this program, I saw it as an opportunity to share what I already know about creating a dynamic teaching environment. I didn’t necessarily think about all that I would learn, especially since I lived in China for four years. In the end, learning from the SABEH and Chinese teachers was the most rewarding aspect of the program for me.
The Americans teachers in Fuzhou are an incredible group of veteran teachers who have rich and varied teaching experience. Many have taught abroad, attended conferences, won awards, and worked with notable educators. As we worked together, I found myself learning about new theories, authors, and strategies that I had not been exposed to before. On a few occasions, Evan and Andi popped into my class to observe. This gave me the opportunity to ask them how they might modify the lesson to improve it. On more than one occasion, I took advice from the other teachers to improve my activities!
For example, I was having the Fujian teachers brainstorm questions according to Bloom’s Taxonomy but they were struggling with it. Andi gave me the idea to create the questions myself and have the Chinese teachers place the question in the proper category on Bloom’s and explain why it belongs there. The conversation this generated amongst the Fujian teachers helped deepen their understanding of Bloom’s and it led me to create some great higher order question about Confucianism that I will definitely be using in my own class! To top it off, when we did the activity, the Chinese teachers provided insights into Confucian philosophy that I had not known about.
Furthermore, when I worked with the Chinese teachers to model lessons and discuss how to implement them, I found the Chinese teachers raising questions that I had not considered myself. It is not often that you have the chance to model your favorite activities to a room full of experienced teachers and then discuss it with them! How would I modify this for a larger class? What lower-order level questions could you create to help students get to this analytical activity? I showcased some of my best lessons that I have used for many years, lessons that I thought were pretty polished. Yet having a room full of experienced teachers thinking about the lesson from a fresh perspective forced me to really dissect them and rethink them in a critical way.
I look forward to returning to my classroom in the U.S., armed with new knowledge and bursting with new ideas for my own teaching!