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Teaching the Teachers at YCIS Beijing
By Brett Snipes and Christine Xu 23-Mar-18
This autumn, Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing) continued its partnership with the Beijing Institute of Education through an exchange program with teachers from local Chinese schools. For the seventh year in row, YCIS Beijing was selected to host local teachers at our Honglingjin Park campus to observe classroom lessons and learn more about the unique learning communities and bilingual co-teaching model on offer for students. Below, YCIS Beijing Chinese Co-principal Christine Xu explains more about the exchange program, including three key revelations that local teachers took away from their time on campus. The Program’s Beginnings Seven years ago, the Chinese Education Bureau began the exchange program in an effort to help local schools enrich their curriculums. International schools use cutting-edge methodologies from which local schools can learn and benefit, and thus can serve as a wonderful resource. The Education Bureau selected several well-known and well-respected international schools to participate in the program, of which YCIS Beijing was one. Eventually, the Beijing Institute of Education took over the program, but it has remained the same in practice. Local teachers visit the YCIS Beijing campus for four weeks, observing classes, meeting with teachers, and writing extended reflections on the aspects of the school that have marked them most and which they feel they could take back to their own classrooms. Educational Mindset During the past several years, visiting teachers have consistently left with a few key takeaways, one of which has to do with the education mindset at YCIS Beijing. Local schools are traditionally knowledge-based, whereas YCIS Beijing follows a skills-based and student-centered model. At YCIS Beijing, differences in students’ learning, aptitudes, and backgrounds are taken into account during curriculum design and implementation, and skills are taught that will prepare students for unexpected challenges in the future. Strategies for Engagement The second takeaway is teaching strategies. While visiting teachers are familiar with lecture-based classes and standing in front of a room full of students who are dutifully taking notes, teachers at YCIS Beijing engage students using a wide variety of strategies, including games, apps, and frequent classroom discussion. Community Culture The final takeaway has been about the unique culture at YCIS Beijing. Visiting teachers write in their reflection papers that they feel YCIS Beijing is more than simply a collection of international students, but instead has a thriving community culture. Through frequent school activities, student leadership opportunities, and a familial atmosphere, the YCIS Beijing school culture is a model of a healthy school community. The local exchange program offers a wonderful opportunity for visiting teachers to learn more about the unique teaching model at YCIS Beijing and to take aspects of YCIS back to their own schools. Christine Xu has been with YCIS Beijing for 20 years, serving as Chinese Co-Principal since 2008.>
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