I have arrived!
11th November 2019
After a ten-hour flight travelling almost 6000 miles, myself and lots of other teachers from the UK arrived safely in Shanghai on Sunday. The weather is beautiful, they call the current season ‘the golden season’, the sun is bright and the colourful leaves are falling from the trees. After checking in to the hotel I found I was going up to the 33rd floor, the views are fantastic!
Today the real experience began as we visited Shanghai Normal University for the launch day of the England-Shanghai Mathematics Teacher Exchange Project.
Representatives from the English and Chinese departments of education warmly welcomed all of the teachers. They each gave a short speech about the journey of the project since 2014 when Mrs McCollom first visited.
After the welcome ceremony and a huge group picture with over 100 teachers we were given an in-depth lecture by Professor Gu Lingyuan. He shared the finer points of his research of the development of teaching for mastery and how teachers in China teach lessons in a logical order arranging key teaching sequences to highlight the key points of the learning steps within concepts.
One example Professor Gu highlighted was subtracting with regrouping. He shared the theory of pupils having multiple steps of thinking. The first stage is using concrete apparatus such as bundles of straws.
If the calculation is 26 -7 the pupils would be provided with the 26 straws and they remove 7. They would then count the total of straws remaining in the bundle. This could also be taught by using pictorial representation such as ten frames.
The next stage is the algorithm using the abstract form.
The final stage would be the mastery stage where the pupils would truly understand the reasoning behind regrouping and master the concept e.g.
26 -7 = (20 – 1) + (6-6) = 19
This example by Professor Lu was a good reflection of the mastery approach we have at St Augustine’s and it was refreshing to know that our strategies are similar and have been successful since it began in 2014 as a result of Mrs McCollom’s visit to the country.
After a delicious lunch provided by the university, my UK partner teacher (Mrs Prince) and I met our Shanghai partner teachers Ms Yiwen Li and Ms Heng Gu. We will be visiting their schools in Shagnhai and observing lessons over the next two weeks. It came as no surprise that they are very passionate Mathematics teachers, keen to share their practices and grow as professionals. We shared ideas about Math pedagogy, discovered the similarities and differences of our two education systems and began thinking ahead to their visit to England in March.
After a very busy day at the Normal University, my partner teacher Mrs Prince and I took the opportunity to visit some of Shanghai’s fantastic attractions. We walked along one of China’s most famous shopping streets Nanjing Road, it had a huge variety of shops and neon signs which illuminated the night. We then stopped at the Bund which is part of Shanghai’s colonial past where rice trading would take place. It now has the most spectacular views of modern futuristic buildings all displaying dazzling bright lights. Our final stop was the world famous Shanghai Tower, it is the tallest building in China and second tallest building in the world standing at 632 meters. We entered the fastest elevator in the world travelling at 18 meters per second – our ears were popping all the way to the top. The sun sets very early in Shanghai and as it was around 8pm we were greeted with breath-taking views from the 360 degree observatory – it was spectacular!