A friend writes:
I’ve been in China now for a few months, and here’s what I’ve seen in the kindergarten I’m helping:
The original ‘experienced’ principal was struggling to handle the implementation of the ‘new school’ and was let go during the first year
(mmmm… familiar theme – experienced as principal is not same as experienced starting a brand new school). She had organized the room set-up with some basic materials and created a very basic parent handbook and staff handbook, I am told.
Okay, Year 2. The owners have stepped in to lead – but need support for implementing a play-based child-centered program. The Chinese curriculum director speaks very good English and we talk daily about Everything.
Teachers hover over children keeping them safe, but there is little engagement with them.
There’s a thematic curriculum based on the Bell ESL program from the UK and a framework from a consulting professor from Peking University for the Chinese base. Curriculum outlines are sent to her 2 weeks in advance, she critiques them, then does a classroom observation very 2 weeks and meets with the staff to make suggestions for improvements. I have been at several of the meetings and her corrections reflect changes for a DAP curriculum (for example she told the teachers they had to cut their 40 minute teaching circle time to 15 minutes – bravo!)
I am meeting with foreign teachers and adding in extended curriculum and modeling teacher-child interactions for all staff.
We are making baby steps to change the schedule from a very didactic method with lots of transitions for the whole group to longer open time frames. I have a few ideas for other changes including room designs, added materials support, and sprinklings of extended activities to support the current running theme.
So, there are many struggles and bumps along the road to as we move towards…ah…well…creating a strong foundation!
Your lecture helped reaffirmed what I am already seeing and gave me some insight for supporting change. I have already conducted 2 parent salons and have the framework for some individual professional development training.
It is a new and budding program – but I believe the possibility is there for change. The more deeply I get to know the owners, the more I believe they are truly wanting quality education for some of our youngest students!