This is the latest post from the IPS team at an education conference in China. The writer, today, is teacher Amy Wackerly. [She is joined by Chris Collier, the head of Center for Inquiry Schools in Indianapolis and by Ann Mennonno, the new IPS Teacher of the Year.]
We began the final day of the Beijing portion of our Elementary Education International Conference at the Wu Qing Conference Center. There were around 600 participants in the audience. The session started with opening comments from the president of Beijing Normal University and a senior professor from the same university. Next we listened to the keynote speakers from Stanford University. Professor Ann Lieberman presented on networks and partnerships and Professor Andrea Whitaker discussed using teacher portfolios to support student learning.
The conference center had theater-style seat with desks in front of each row of chairs. We listened to translators on headphones as different groups presented. When our group got up to present some of the teachers from YuYing School commented on the lessons Ann and I did. They were very complimentary of our lessons and felt we were very patient with the students. They said the students were very shy and nervous about speaking English but we were very encouraging and supportive of the students, and they were very much at ease as we got into the lessons. They also felt like we really take the time to get to know our students. Chris, Ann and I also provided comments about our experiences in the school. We discussed similarities and differences we noticed while working with the students in China in comparison to US students.
After a buffet lunch we had to bid farewell to our friends from Hong Kong. We left the conference and were able to do our first sightseeing since our arrival. Our stop for today was the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace used to be an imperial palace but is now a beautiful park. We toured the site with another group of teachers from Kennedy Elementary in Janesville, Wisconsin. I think we were all impressed with landscape and the architecture. I especially enjoyed the Long Corridor, the area around the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, and all the rocks within the walkways. The Long Corridor has over 10,000 paintings on the wood beams and ceiling depicting important parts Chinese history and culture.
After dinner we headed out for some nightlife. The area we went was called Houhai. It was an area around a lake with all kinds of shops, bars and people. We went with our friends from Stanford University, Kennedy Elementary (Janesville, WI), Guoli Liang (the conference organizer) and some new Chinese friends. We heard great music and the area reminded us of Broad Ripple meets San Antonio Riverwalk meets Bourbon Street. The whole area was lit up in neon and different types of lighting. One of the shops we passed had fried scorpions on a stick. In case you were wondering, there were no takers in our group.
Tomorrow we are off to explore the Great Wall.