A Time for Learning and Growth
McKay School student and teachers expand their education experiences in China
The McKay School has had student teachers in Washington, DC, Houston, Mexico, Polynesian Islands, and New Zealand. Now they have established a successful student teacher program in China.
The McKay School student teachers who left for China in April are back. Damon Bahr of the Department of Teacher Education and Peter Chan from IP&T, accompanied the eight students to China to fulfill their student teaching requirements.
The McKay School students taught at the Clifford School in the Guangzhou province. The Clifford School is a private bilingual school, where students are taught in English in their content subjects for half of the day and the other half in Chinese. Parents send their children to the Clifford School to learn English and learn about other cultures from a more global perspective.
Teaching in a foreign country give the student teachers the opportunity to have a different cultural experience. “It’s one thing to go to a different culture and be a tourist, but it’s something else to be a part of that culture in some meaningful way,” said Bahr.
For students in the program, Bahr said an additional benefit of teaching in a foreign country is “when you teach students of a different culture in their culture, you come to appreciate students’ differences and their similarities,” he said. “[The student teachers] fall in love with the students’ cultures and that affects their view of students from multiple cultures in their future teaching experiences.”
Bahr explained that this is a good opportunity to prepare future teachers for teaching English language learners. “Students that taught in China live that all day, everyday, and not just with a few students in their classroom, but their entire class.” While Bahr admits that there may be cultural barriers to overcome, teaching style was not much of an adjustment.
“For the most part they still need to prepare their lessons the same way they prepare here,” said Chan. “They still need to apply educational principles, instructional strategies, and pedagogies that they learned in the McKay School, but they have to apply them in a different context.”
For example, one student teacher, Lauren Angarola, was preparing a lesson on the Korean War for her students. The United States and China were on opposite sides of the war, so Angarola had to take on a whole different perspective for a different audience. In addition to stretching academically, student teachers on the trip had meaningful personal experiences. Angarola, who is part Chinese decent, was able to visit her ancestors home village and find more than a 1000 names in her genealogy.
“It really stretches them and helps them to understand themselves more and understand what it means to be a teacher and understand their students,” Chan said. For them it is a very awakening experience and they need to ask themselves tough questions on how they can effective teachers.”
September 27, 2012