31 May, 2018
10 : 00
On 17th May, 40 teachers from the Beijing Institute of Education (BIE) visited Yew Chung International School of Beijing to learn about our unique approach to education. We speak to Co-Principal Ms Christine Xu about the visit and YCIS Beijing’s role in paving the way for innovation in education.
Please explain the purpose of the BIE visit
The BIE have been running school visits between local and international schools since 2012. At first these were open to senior leaders of local schools only, but recently they’ve expanded so that talented educators of all levels can visit international schools and learn from their different approaches to teaching.
The teachers who visited us were from local schools in the Tongzhou area. The visit is part of an ongoing programme between YCIS Beijing and the BIE – we’ll be running a similar day in July for another group of teachers, and this October we are inviting a group of teachers to immerse themselves in our school and lessons for four weeks.
Why did the BIE choose YCIS Beijing?
We have a reputation for being at the forefront of international education. In particular, our bilingualism and blend of East and West makes us very suited to leading information sessions for local educators.
What did their day involve? How did you and other staff here contribute?
This day was not just a site visit, but an in-depth introduction to our teaching methods.
Mr Thomas and I introduced the principles behind our Learning Communities, bilingual education and character education. Then our Chinese teachers led sessions on the pioneering approaches to teaching that are not yet widely implemented in local Beijing schools. Their main areas of focus were “Visible Thinking” and “Understanding by Design”.
Visible Thinking is a research-based approach to integrating the development of students' thinking with content learning across subjects.
Understanding by Design, or UbD, is an approach to educational planning. UbD is a type of “backward design” – whereby you look at the desired outcomes of learning in order to design curriculum units, assessments, and instruction.
What do you hope that the visiting teachers gained from their day here?
Visible Thinking and Understanding by Design are highly effective teaching methods, now implemented across many international schools. I hope that our visiting teachers were able to see and understand the benefits of these methods, and can find a way to incorporate them into their local schools.
Adopting these different approaches requires a change of mind-set and a break from content- and assessment-based curricula. But when they are put into practise, students become better prepared for life-long learning and skill acquisition rather than being vessels for filling with information.
In March we held the “Reinvention: The Future Beckons” conference – would you consider YCEF to be a leader in educational innovation?
Absolutely. Yew Chung has an 85-year history of pioneering education. We have always held onto our commitment to innovation, from Dr Chan’s advocacy of play-based learning in her kindergarten in the 1970s, to our unique co-teaching model and innovative Learning Communities today. We have a history and a reputation that is hard to compete with. It is this history that affords us the confidence to continuously strive for innovation for the 21st Century.
What is your ambition for the future of education in China?
As a leading international school, we have a responsibility towards improving education for all. I would like to continue to work with the BIE and local educators so that, for very little cost, more local schools can benefit from our expertise and learn about approaches that have been implemented in the international sector.
It is fantastic to see that in the most recent government curriculum revision, a move towards international education is being supported. As Beijing becomes a more globalised city, there is a growing interest in an international style of education for local programmes – while still maintaining strong roots in Chinese culture and identity. We feel privileged to contribute towards such innovation in local schools and hope to maintain our close relationship with the BIE and Beijing teachers.