Teachers from China participate in Lesley institute and early childhood education field experiences.
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Fourteen early childhood teachers travelled from Nanjing, China as part of the International Early Childhood Education Professional Development Week from March 22 to 28, facilitated by Dr. Yvonne Liu-Constant, Assistant Professor and Acting Program Director of Early Childhood Education in Lesley’s Graduate School of Education.
The partnership offers American and Chinese educators the opportunity to share philosophies and approaches to early childhood education, and to impart Lesley’s knowledge as a leader in the field of early childhood education. The Chinese teachers have studied about various early childhood education pedagogies and philosophies, and they are interested in observing in classrooms and learning about teaching practices first-hand during their visit to the United States.
”This program is part of Lesley’s global education initiative to increase international connections and cross-cultural exchanges,” said Liu-Constant, who is one of several inaugural Global Center Faculty Fellows funded to advance global initiatives at the university.
Lesley’s instruction and methodology is inspired by many progressive approaches to education, including the Reggio Emilia approach, based in Reggio Emilia, Italy. This approach focuses on fostering relationships among children, teachers, parents and the community. Lesley has a longstanding and deep connection to Reggio Emilia through Lesley’s annual Reggio Emilia Inspired Institute, coursework, and study tours to Reggio Emilia.
“Carlina Rinaldi of Reggio Emilia talks about the idea of ‘Reggio as a mirror… where one finds an image of oneself,’” noted Liu-Constant. “We are hoping that by studying the Reggio Emilia approach side-by-side with our visiting colleagues from China, we will all reflect more deeply on our practices as early childhood educators.”
Following the Chinese visiting teachers’ participation in the Reggio Inspired Institute, Lesley arranged for a week-long series of field experience in local Reggio-inspired schools. The week started with observations in the classrooms and culminated with the visiting teachers’ sharing Chinese songs, nursery rhymes, art activities, and traditional games with the children.
The Chinese educators said they were impressed during their field experience by the way the American teachers engaged with their students, listened to them, followed their interests, and encouraged a connection to their environment. One teacher noted the level of parental involvement and help in the classroom, which she does not experience in China. Another teacher recalled the way a teacher leading a group of students on a walk allowed them to stop by a construction site, ask questions, interact with the construction workers, and continue the conversation back in the classroom.
“One of the things I noticed is this idea of learning as a process, not an end product,” one of the Chinese teachers explained, translated by Liu-Constant, during a luncheon in Lesley’s University Hall with Associate Provost Lisa Ijiri, Graduate School of Education Dean Jack Gillette, Assistant Professor Mary Beth Lawton, Visiting Professor Debbie LeeKeenan and other members of the Lesley community.
Lesley arranged for the Chinese educators to engage in field experiences at the Advent School, the Charlestown Nursery School, the Newtowne School, and the Soule Center. They also participated in educator workshops at the Museum of Science, the Children's Museum, the DeCordova Museum and the Lincoln Nursery School.
“The Reggio Emilia approach emphasizes active learning and respect for children, who are not just vessels who need to learn their ABCs,” notes Lesley’s Dean of Faculty Dr. Lisa Fiore. “Through this special partnership, the Chinese educators have a chance to learn more about this approach to foster the development of creative children and citizens.”
View more photos of Lesley's partnership with teachers from China.
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