One of the goals of the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation has been to continue to improve the international program. In order to achieve this goal, a group of five staff members; Mrs. Heather Noesges, Mrs. Amy Tucker, Mrs. Nicole Privett, Mrs. Delinda Deckard, and Mrs. Stacy Muffler, took a twelve day trip to Anshan, China in hopes of enhancing the educational practices in China schools.
Upon arrival, the group from Mt. Vernon received a tour of the school to see the environment of the classrooms, but ultimately, the teachers’ training they led occurred in an auditorium with students. The student-teacher relationship is vastly different in China and America. Something notable about the students in China is that they have a desire to please their teachers and not act out; students even refer to them as “Teacher” rather than their names.
The Mt. Vernon staff worked with over one hundred English speaking 4th-6th grade teachers and their students to demonstrate the power of hands on teaching and interactivity in the classroom. The teachers were essentially the students in this situation- with the group of five Mt. Vernon faculty members being the teachers. They showed, rather than told, the “students” how to teach a lesson as though they were in America.
Traditionally, Chinese schools use the lecture method to teach their classes of 40-60 students, without effectively engaging their students in the lesson. The group of Mt. Vernon educators proposed the method of dividing the class into smaller groups and using technology, games, and engaging lessons in order to be able to interact more with each student and fulfill all of the students’ educational needs. The main concern of the Chinese teachers with this method is behavioral problems that would arise in the students. However, the same behaviors seen in America’s schools are seen in Chinese schools, showing that the use of creative teaching styles does not promote problem behavior. Eventually, teachers from both schools taught alongside one another, with the Chinese teachers acting as student teachers and putting into action the teaching methods they learned. The teachers were excited and relieved upon knowing a multitude of new ways to teach their students.
Another point shown to the Chinese educators was that all subjects learned in school interact in one way or another and that not all students are going to be the best at each subject. Pointing out this fact made students more confident in their abilities to succeed in school. Additionally, something that Mrs. Amy Tucker, Fortville Elementary’s special education teacher, noticed is that there is no special education program in China schools. She was able to explain how to teach students who are not necessarily on the same path as the rest of the students. This experience gave her a sense of purpose and made her feel as though their work is not done.
Mrs. Tucker’s feeling that their work is not done is one shared among the educators who traveled to China. A goal of this group is to visit Anshan, China again and continue to help instruct students and teachers at the primary level and eventually at the middle and high school level.
Several students and staff from China shared a message with one of Mt. Vernon's elementary students who is fighting a serious illness. Please take a look to watch the video encouraging Tyler through his daily challenges: