Teaching in Beijing
While preparing my lessons over the last few months, I was very nervous about the type of topics, strategies, and lessons that would go over effectively with the Chinese teachers. I searched through various novels, short stories, and news articles in an attempt to find relevant and meaningful content. By the time I arrived in Beijing, my lessons were jam-packed with activities, strategies, and resources. However, as I approach the end of our time at Beijing No. 35 High School (International Department), I realize that the teachers appreciate learning deeply about one topic or strategy, as opposed to briefly encountering many ideas.
Each day after our 3 classes, we have the opportunity to spend an hour working intently with a small group of teachers in a “tutoring group.” The teachers work on incorporating some of the strategies into practical lesson plans for their classrooms. I have truly enjoyed getting to know some of the teachers in these small groups while working on adapting our strategies to their classrooms.
Many of the teachers have 40-60 students in a small space for 40 minute periods. So we often talk about how to use stations or centers in the classroom in order to get students moving around the room, or working with their peers. For example, a group of English-Language teachers decided today that they would use reading, writing, listening, and speaking centers as a way to engage all students in various capacities. The speaking center would take advantage of WeChat by allowing students to record themselves speaking English and send it directly to their teachers to assess fluency. By the end, the teachers and I appreciated the extra time that we were able to spend working specifically with one or two strategies which they can adapt in multiple ways.