On Friday, each grade performs skits on a school-wide theme
Guan Ai Primary School is the headquarters for our program and acts as a laboratory for high quality rural education. The program is run by program staff called "Teaching Coaches" who have professional experience in teaching. They are based full-time, year-round at the school working to support the local teachers.
At Guan Ai School, we are accumulating expertise and developing practical methods that can be shared with other rural schools. After cultivating a team of excellent local teachers at Guan Ai, they will train and network more educators across rural China to share strategies and lessons learned. Here is a glimpse of progress made in the 2008-2009 school year so far. For monthly updates, subscribe to our newsletter and visit our blog!
Every afternoon, the teachers and program staff run extracurricular activities that students voluntarily sign up for. On any given day, one can walk around the campus and observe students involved in arts and crafts, preparing a school newspaper, learning Chinese yo-yo tricks, practicing trumpets, singing English songs, and many other activities. These activities are almost unheard of in rural Chinese schools and are a testimony to the initiative and commitment of the teachers.
Several teachers have also been boldly experimenting with creative lessons within the regular curriculum. They include story-telling and poetry recitation contests to cultivate students’ speaking skills and love of reading in language class, taking students into the village to learn about the community in Social Studies, conducting experiments in Science and letting students manage their own small businesses in Math.
School Management & Outreach
We have improved the teacher evaluation system so that it better their teaching performance and innovation. We have also helped the principals to articulate their educational philosophy for the school and present it to the teachers. Last semester, we began a Parent Training Program. Around thirty of the parents who have demonstrated the most active involvement in their children’s education were nominated to be the first participants. We invited them to the school and the teachers shared with them about what was going on at the school and in their teaching. They then engaged the parents in discussion of practical parenting topics that were of great concern to the parents. The first meeting focused on parent-child communication and the second on effective ways to help children with TV addiction. According to feedback from the parents afterward, these meetings were found to be useful and fill a need for parents to talk to each other and to their children’s teachers about common problems they face. We will continue this Parent Training Program this semester. Eventually, we hope that these parents who benefit from and regularly attend the trainings will form the nucleus of a new Parent’s Association that can be involved in strategy and development of the school.
Teaching and Professional Development
The RCEF Teaching Coaches made strong progress helping local teachers to gain confidence in using new student-centered teaching methods. In addition to a regular schedule of listening to and assisting with classes, the Teaching Coaches participated in lesson planning, post-lesson feedback sessions, and facilitating subject- and grade-level meetings. Systems were also set up for the teachers to learn from each other. Every month, teachers have to observe six other classes in their grade level or subject and be observed six times. They take notes and fill out a feedback form afterwards that is posted on the wall of the teachers’ office. In addition, every week, the teachers write a reflection about problems they are encountering and lessons they’ve learned. These all serve as a way for teachers to be accountable to each other in an open, honest, and supportive atmosphere.
Over the winter holiday, an intensive training was held for all of the teachers in the program. Three teachers from Dulangkou Middle School in Shandong Province were hired as trainers. They brought deep expertise in participatory teaching methods. The format of the training was designed to give our teachers as much hands-on practice as possible. Teachers discussed theory and practice as they planned lessons together and then delivered them in front of regular students later in the day. The trainers planned some of the lessons as demonstrations, explaining their values, logic, and methods clearly. After each lesson, there was a thorough discussion about what happened in the class, what could be done better, and what questions the teachers had. The feedback from the teachers was very positive and we have already seen them put into practice many of the methods they learned during the training.
Teaching Coach Ron Sung helps Fourth Graders in Science
Teachers at the Winter 2009 Teacher Training