From October 15 to 26, 2012, fourteen faculty members from Sichuan Normal University (SNU), in Chengdu, China, visited UFV to attend a professional development program offered by UFV’s Teacher Education program (TEP), with support from UFV International.
The visiting faculty train middle and high school student teachers in a range of disciplines at SNU. The 10-day UFV training was custom-designed to provide them with a comprehensive snapshot of the teacher education curriculum offered at UFV.
In addition to providing a birds eye view of the TEP program and the education system in Canada and BC, workshops covered topics such as lesson planning, classroom management, language arts and literacy, assessment and evaluation, action research, critical thinking and science education.
“As teachers, our goal is to help our students become active participants in their learning,” says Awneet Sivia, head of the UFV’s Teacher Education program. “We designed the program to model this type of student-centered learning and provide opportunities for SNU faculty to reflect on the role they play in shaping their students’ learning environment.”
Sivia and her team ‒ Barbara Salingré, Sheryl MacMath, Heather Compeau and Sandy Hill ‒ delivered the training sessions. Visiting scholar professor Huan Huo from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, assisted with program hosting and translation.
The SNU group also visited two local schools in district 34, Clayburn Middle School and Sandy Hill Elementary School. Four young Mandarin speakers who attend these schools shared about their Canadian experience with the SNU visitors. A tour of UFV ESL and Education classes complemented these visits and provided another opportunity to see teaching principles applied in the classroom.
“The beauty of working across language and culture,” says Sivia, “is that it challenges us as academics to clarify our own understanding about our fields of interest. In discussing what we do with teachers who come from a different culture and context, we examine our own worldview, methods, and approaches. There is no doubt that this intercultural experience was as much a learning opportunity for us as it was for our SNU colleagues.”
“We covered a lot of ground,” Sivia adds. “Now we’re looking forward to hearing how participants unpack what they have learned and apply it in their own context at SNU.”
For the first part of their visit, the group was accompanied by Wang Wanming, professor and vice-president of SNU and Yang Tianqing, professor and associate-director at SNU. UFV took this opportunity to sign a new agreement to receive SNU students for one or two semesters, as a study abroad portion of their SNU degrees.
SNU already sends students to UFV and hosts UFV’s Kinesiology and Physical Education students for a 12-week summer program in martial arts.
“The partnership between UFV and SNU is longstanding,” says John Potts, UFV’s Manager of International Partnerships. “The teacher training program held at UFV was a valuable addition to an already successful collaboration and helped create new links between faculty members at our institutions.”