Following on from the exchange as documented below, Annabelle and Carly established a Teacher Research Group (TRG) with local schools trialling aspects of Shanghai teaching that they observed and how these apply in our classrooms.
The TRG is open to all to join, if interested please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Annabelle Grose, Headteacher at St Michael’s Primary School in Lyme Regis reports back on a recent Exchange Visit to Shanghai.
I travelled with Miss Carly Gardiner, a teacher at Redstart Primary School in Chard, Somerset. We are the Lead Primary Schools for the Jurassic Maths Hub in the Shanghai Teacher Exchange Project. A total of 73 teacher/leaders travelled to central Shanghai and we made strong links with the Cornwall, Bristol and Cheltenham teams. We were given the names and addresses of partner Shanghai Schools and on Wednesday 24 September 2014, travelled in a taxi 35 miles west to MingQiang Primary in the Minhang District. They have 4,100 pupils from Year 2 to Year 6! Miss Gardiner spent the rest of the time at Tianyuan Foreign Language Experimental Primary School also in the Minhang District and they have 2,500 Pupils! Miss Ding, from Minqiang and Miss Lu, from Tianyuan will be the teachers joining us on Wednesday 05 November until Friday 14 November 2014. We were able to work with them whilst we were there and they have been chosen from a significant number of specialist Maths teachers who applied to be in the Project. During our stay we planned that the teachers would come and focus on the teaching of multiplication when they join us.
The project is focusing on five Key Aspects:
- Teaching for mastery: procedural and conceptual variation; intelligent practice to embed deep understanding; “the answer is only the beginning”
- Calculation practice and developing number fluency
- How lesson designs achieve these
- Effective use of high-quality textbooks
- Assessment and feedback of class and home work.
We were given an opportunity to explore the city for three days – it is an amazing and friendly city! We spent five days in school, observing and talking about Maths teaching with everyone possible and three days at Shanghai Normal University, focusing on the theory of Maths teaching in China, whilst also trying to cope with jet lag! We also worked with the other English Maths Hubs for two days on the action we will take in the future. My first impressions when arriving both at Shanghai Normal University and then the school which was hosting me was that this project is highly important to Shanghai Schools and its teachers. I was greeted with flowers as I arrived at the school and my name in lights! Each classroom had an English Corner where the children and parents had made posters about the child in both Chinese and English – everything is on a bigger scale if you have 4,100 children!
The main opportunity was to observe many lessons along with Chinese teachers; I was surprised by the numbers of teachers observing with us – up to 30 teachers watching lessons was not unusual! We joined the school’s teacher research groups where the detail of a lesson and the questioning was discussed. The Chinese teachers are very interested in how they may adapt their teaching further, with discussions about how we help each child and use resources already being talked about. I mainly observed the equivalent of Year 2 and Year 3 where the lessons are at a fast pace, fun with lots of praise and supported by clear varied examples which children work on independently – there is daily homework which is used to support the learning. Yes I did get the chance to play ping pong, see the marching band, attend the flag raising ceremony and be interviewed by the School Council! This interview was filmed and shown live in each classroom so all 4,100 children were all involved. Talking about St. Michael’s at the staff meeting to the 250 teachers was a new experience – I am not sure who was more nervous – me or my 20 year old interpreter!
Now we have returned to England, we will start to work with just the two Lead Primary Schools for our hub – thinking about how teachers work together and how teachers design lessons. We will produce more information about how our alliance children will be involved in this.
I see this project as highly valuable over the short, medium and long term with the impact starting in just a few classes on just two key aspects initially and developing further. Teachers from across the South West will be invited to specific events in November and our teachers will be at the centre of this carefully planned thinking.