As another school year draws to a close and children look forward to the summer holidays, it's time for teachers to reflect on the months that have passed and all they have achieved.
With this in mind, we asked Shanghai teachers to tell us a story about a standout moment from their year that left them inspired. Whether it was witnessing pure acts of kindness, embracing technology for higher efficiency, developing students into confident writers or taking a step back to see how far the class had matured, Shanghai teachers have spent the year learning themselves.
What a memorable way to finish off the year – a reminder that their dedication and passion has resulted in their students possessing a desire to excel, and that all who enter a classroom can learn and grow.
So, let's take a look at what left a lasting impression on the teachers of Shanghai this year. This week, we talk with Ester Keuning, who is a Year 3 class teacher at Wellington College International Shanghai.
This year, one of my most uplifting experiences has been witnessing the progress and sheer enjoyment displayed by my pupils in their lessons on the writing process. Developed from my teaching methods and blended with international best practice, we have used a learning philosophy that helps pupils engage with writing in a more exploratory, flexible and fun manner, while still supporting the solid technical skills that they need.
When learning English, pupils have grammatical rules and technical writing conventions to master. They are then asked to create work that reflects the writing skills we've been learning. The system we utilize supports a gradual approach to the writing process, whereby pupils build up their writing in stages. We start with brainstorming and drafting, which is followed by a series of incremental refinements. Pupils then polish their initial ideas and drafts into a more cohesive and wellstructured outline, while working in examples of the grammar rules and conventions we've been learning. Next up is peer review, which they love, as it gives them a chance to share their ideas, enjoy each other's stories and become inspired. This whole process prepares them for the final writing stage; they are warmed up and ready to express themselves.
In short, pupils can take a little more time with their writing while reducing the pressure they feel. This time provides room to breathe, to explore language, experiment with it and ultimately create more ambitious, yet technically sophisticated pieces of fiction and non-fiction. This process has led to so many incredible writing highlights throughout the year, such as our recent exploration of myths and legends; the class loved learning about heroes, monsters and quests before creating a mythological story of their own. Like many of our best works, we've turned this one into a collected anthology of the entire class's stories, which are then displayed in the college library.
Experiences like this allow pupils to solidify their grasp on key technical writing skills and elements of grammar. They also have time to consider their writing, to order their ideas and become excited about utilizing the knowledge they've gained to compose better stories and non-fiction works. This has inspired them to overcome moments of writer's block and come up with some truly wonderful pieces this year.
Ester Keuning is a Year 3 class teacher at Wellington College International Shanghai. She has taught and lived in The Netherlands, France, Kenya, Indonesia, Cuba, China and India, with her husband and three daughters, over a period of 23 years. She was one of the founding members of Wellington College International in Tianjin.