Last week, a team of five Chinese teachers were welcomed in grand, white Michigan winter style, to the halls and classrooms of Sandy Hill and Bauerwood Elementary Schools. For eight days, these teachers were invited to participate fully in the learning opportunities that Jenison Public School students enjoy each day they walk through our doors.
In cooperation with JIA Director Rebekah Redmer, Bauerwood Principal Crystal Morse, and a team of others, this group of eager professionals observed and taught Jenison students in preparation for a possible partnership between their Beijing school and ours.
“We’re exposing our students to new cultures, giving them a greater global perspective and increasing their understanding of diversity. The kids have been so conscientious while our guests have been here. We’ve seen a greater amount of citizenship because they know that they’re not just representing JPS, but the United States of America! They’re demonstrating a lot of respect for our Chinese friends…it’s been wonderful to see,” said Mrs. Redmer.
Mrs. Redmer first met these Chinese teachers last June when she, Superintendent TenBrink, and a handful of others first traveled overseas. This initial visit was followed by a second trip later in the summer which gave a team of JPS teachers the opportunity to lesson plan, teach, and interact with Chinese students in their environment.
Mrs. Morse recalls a very different learning atmosphere in the Chinese schools than what our children experience:
“In China the teachers do not collaborate or work in partnerships, so for them, seeing how we “do school” is very different. They’re learning new systems and methodologies by watching our teachers prepare lessons and differentiate their instruction.
Chinese teachers in each grade level are instructed (by the government) to teach from the same page on the same day. So for example, if you teach 4th grade, all the 4th grade teachers must be on page 89 together, regardless of the needs of their classes. They typically don’t know the names of their students, either, and instead just point to individuals who want to answer a question. There is a high suicide rate because of the pressure put on children to perform and succeed.”
Mrs. Jun (pictured right) is a teacher determined to change the atmosphere of Chinese schools. Her sweet demeanor and kind smile are hints at the heart she has for children. During the time she spent with JPS host families in Michigan, she and the others enjoyed home cooking, a trip to the symphony, ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle, and more.
“I’ve loved the atmosphere here. People here are very kind and helpful. It is very easy-going. In China it is very serious. We have many more examinations. Children here are happier. They learn abilities and skills — not just bits of information,” Mrs. Jun reflected.
Because many Chinese parents are noticing the same, there is currently a big push to internationalize schools. That’s where JIA comes in: we believe that our schools possess the level of excellence demanded by the Chinese, and in today’s world of information technology, we have a way to bring our expertise to their doorsteps.
Just as importantly, we also believe that the way we seek to capture kids’ hearts each day can revolutionize the classroom experience of Chinese students who are waiting to be transformed by the efforts of personalized education.
We’re excited to see what the future holds!