At Kennedy School, as teachers Heidi Ochoa and Leah Hildebrand and Principal Allison DeGraaf prepare to travel to China this June, they are taking advantage of current technology to connect and prepare for the trip. Heidi and Leah utilize Facetime to communicate with Chinese administrators, teachers and students.
Heidi and Leah work with students to teach them classroom management techniques, practice English and math lessons. In one lesson, Heidi walked students through basic techniques of practicing saying English words, identifying whether they were nouns or verbs and recognizing the number of syllables in each word.
The work our teachers are doing with the Chinese students is reminiscent of a story I once read. In a biography of a man named Brother Andrew, he shares his experience of studying English. He begins his studies in Holland, where he is natively from, before moving to England for his education. He spends months developing his English skills with a teacher from Holland, who briefly before his departure confesses, “There’s something on my mind. Something I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time. Only I didn’t quite know how to do it. You see, Andrew, I’ve never actually heard any English. But I’ve read a lot of it, and a lady I write to in England says my grammar is perfect.” When Andrew arrived in England, he discovered that his English was not only unintelligible, but also laughable. He spent the following two months intensively restudying the English language.
As we build relations with other countries that speak languages other than English, it is crucial that we build solid language skills. Communication is key to building relationships and developing a solid partnership. Utilizing Facetime not only provides an opportunity for the Chinese students and teachers to familiarize themselves with our teachers and begin learning some SDJ practices, but it has also helped prepare our teachers for their trip to China, as well as teaching here in Janesville. Heidi stated that she is learning to explain things in a different way to meet the needs of these specific students. She is also learning about the different culture and climate of Chinese schools. The elementary schools follow more of a middle school model here in the United States.
Overall, the technology available to us has helped to prepare both the students, and our teachers. The benefits of this technology have helped to grow the resources available to the SDJ, and it has been amazing to watch our teachers at Kennedy utilizing this technology to build international relationships.
A big thank you to Dr. Smiley and his AWESOME technology team!