Monday, June 13, 2016

Teaching in China

When I walked into my classroom the first day, I was pleasantly surprised. The desks were easily arrangeable, the technology appeared to be of an acceptable level, and the view out the windows was to be desired. Working through anything in China, however, presents itself with many cultural and language based challenges. *It is unclear* has been a common theme between SABEH, the American program I am with, and the Chinese school as we try to work through any issues that arise.
How much time will we have with our classes tomorrow? (It is unclear)
Do we have access to the wifi? (It is unclear)
Can we set the computers to English instead of Chinese? (It is unclear)
Why does the printer release smoke while printing?! (It is unclear)
For example, check out this makeshift computer lab they created for us, which is strangely only made up of monitors, keyboards, and mice.  The computer towers were lost in translation.  It was unclear.
In establishing the professional development content, the language barrier is unlike anything I have experienced before. We have even had the good fortune of being paired with some of the best translators in the school and yet so much is still lost in translation. It’s amazing how many different answers you can be given to the same question from the same person. In the end, though, everything always gets cleared up, as was the case as we moved into our classrooms.
My first week I will be working with a group of 13 elementary math teachers from grades 1-6. I will be teaching demonstration lessons, using the teachers as the students during the demonstration. Keep in mind only about four of these teachers speak English! After each demonstration, we will have a lengthy discussion about the specific teaching methods I used and how they can incorporate them into their teaching.
It was quite exciting being able to plan yet another new classroom layout after having just planned the layout of my upcoming second grade classroom. This one, however is not as bright and colorful. Check out the panoramic photo of the room below:

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