Friday, July 20, 2018

Somewhere in Southeast Asia

Ok, so my blog has been slacking a bit this summer. We actually finished teaching about a week ago and I have been traveling ever since. It’s still been hectic, though, as I worked to finish paperwork from my SABEH responsibilities. I am currently typing this from my closet sized hotel room in Singapore, which, by the way, is a remarkable city -- which I will get to in a future blog post.

Our week of teaching, though went remarkably smooth. I lucked out as this was my first time as a lead teacher, but I was given a fantastic group of teachers that truly embraced the flexibility that comes with working in China. 

One event of the week that nearly pushed me over the anxiety edge was when we had a very formalized question and answer experience with the Chinese teachers. It started out with this really cheesy “talk show” where the SABEH board chair and Greentown’s program leader both engaged in a super cheesy mock talk show. Only in China could something like that be pulled off successfully. 

The q&a ended up going really well. Our SABEH teachers brought their best and it turned into a really interesting back and forth about problems in education both in the US and in China. Not surprisingly, we share many of the same issues. The Chinese educators kept coming back to “how do we fit everything into our day?” And they learned quickly there is no good answer to that question, even in America where we have been teaching this way for decades, there are still things that have to be weighed in the value of importance when attempting to squeeze everything into our short school days.

 I was also shocked to hear a teacher ask how to accommodate an autistic student in her class.  This is the first time in my four summers in China that I have heard any acknowledgment of special education students.   Traditionally, any students who are not up to par were shipped off to specialized schools.  To hear a teacher not only mention a special education student but ask how to meet the child's needs was very inspiring.  

Of course, as with everything in China, the q&a devolved into a never-ending photo shoot with the Chinese teachers.  If you are ever short on self-esteem, visit China.  I always feel like a rock star by the time I leave!

Overall my time spent with the teachers this year was spectacular.  Although I was not teaching every day, I still found ways to connect with many of the Chinese educators and have made several new meaningful friendships.  The Chinese organizer of the program was extremely pleased with all our work and has already invited us back next summer, with the hopes that I will continue to be the lead teacher.  I really hope to return to Zhoushan as well.  The campus was stunning, I have so much more to see on the islands, and I really would enjoy working with those teachers again.  Only time will tell where I will be next year.

For now, I am about to head out to meander around the streets of Singapore.  Expect additional blogs more regularly now that the work portion of my trip is complete.

If you want to see more about our week of teaching, check out this fantastic write up with professional photos from the Greentown School about the program.  it's in Chinese, but can be translated via Google.

Happy Reading!

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