This June members from the School District of Janesville will embark on an overseas adventure as they visit two schools in Mainland China. These teachers will work alongside Chinese teachers, sharing classroom management techniques, as well as math and English curriculum. To help the Chinese students and teachers prepare a handful of our teachers have been utilizing Skype to communicate with and teach Chinese students.
While this prep work helps to prepare both our teachers and the Chinese students and teachers, we also see a need to help acclimate the School District of Janesville teachers to a new culture, learning the dos and don’ts of the Chinese people. There is currently a committee planning and preparing activities, readings and a Q&A session for the teachers heading overseas. This orientation session is modeled after methods that the Peace Corps and study abroad programs utilize because these programs have proven success.
Because of the fast pace movement of the district’s Chinese language program, everything being worked on is relatively new and moving quickly. Currently, this orientation session hones in on the Chinese culture and is highly specific to the nature of the Chinese world; however, as the SDJ’s international programs grow, the expectation is to build a more generalized orientation that will be utilized for any teachers working with any foreign country.
The SDJ has been blessed to have teachers with an expansive international experience, and we plan to tap into the resources of those experiences. One of the key focuses of this orientation will be to help Janesville teachers learn and understand the differences of working and teaching in a collectivist society. The approach to authority, leadership and coworkers varies rather drastically from the United States. We want the SDJ teachers to be prepared and confident, so that this experience can positively impact the schools we will be working with in China, as well as the teachers working in our district.
I would personally like to thank Bill Conway and Brett Rusert for their help with this endeavor.