Project Update: "Great Schools" and Training for Principals
In recent years, training for teachers has become a focal point in OCEF's continued efforts to improve rural education in China. To cultivate an ideal environment for professional growth among teachers, the role of a school principal is critical. As the driving force and chief executive of a school, the principal has a direct influence on the development of reading programs at his school through his vision and depth.
In December 2013, OCEF co-hosted a themed training program, "Great Schools and Teaching to Read," with Liu He Foundation. A delegation of 24 principals and local government education department representatives from the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Guizhou Province was invited to visit four elementary schools and a daycare center in the City of Changzhou and the Dongzhou Elementary School in the City of Haimen, Jiangsu Province.
The training program was organized into three parts: (1) lectures by Ms. Xu Dongmei and a visit to the “Getting Closer to Your Mother Tongue” program pilot in Nanjing; (2) demo of "New Education" and the framework of "Great Schools" at the Hutangqiao Elementary School in Changzhou; (3) participation in the "Immersion in Reading" program at the Dongzhou Elementary School in Haimen and a tour of the Institute of New Education.
Quoted below are feedbacks from some of the participants.
Principal Wu Cheng, Gaoya Elementary School, Haiyuan, Ningxia: “Each of the classes [we attended] was unique and great in its own way, and they really opened my eyes. I came to the realization that you need to lead the students in different ways when dealing with different types of reading materials. Because of this experience, I am now a firm believer that reading exercises for the kids should start with reading exercises for the teachers.”
Liang Wenshen, Department of Sports and Education, Haiyuan County: “This tour has been a great inspiration for reading development at our schools and for the pursuit of a better campus culture. It has widened our horizon and provided new ideas on how to improve our performance. In the future, in addition to supervising the cultivation of reading programs and campus culture at our schools, I will also pay attention to the 'inner growth' of our schools and a balanced development of all schools in the county. As long as we remain committed to this approach for 5 to 10 years, I believe what we see in Haimen today will be our future, and we, too, will have a complete and wonderful education system.”
Ma Hongmai, Xiangtong Elementary School: “This training program served as an 'ah-ha moment' to me. We need to make sure the purpose of reading is the pursuit of happiness for the students. We cannot afford to turn students into reading machines; rather, we should help develop their natural capacity in a balanced way.”