JESIE 2017 Orientation Workshop
As the August sun soaked Nanjing in his glorious rays, 25 teachers gathered in Nanjing for JESIE's 2017 Summer Orientation workshop (August 21-26). This year's workshop was filled with presentations covering over 20 topics. Each presentation was meticulously designed by JESIE's staff to provide JESIE's teachers, both new and veteran, with a week's worth of theoretical and practical teaching knowledge.
Associate President SUO Ping opened the week's training with a short introduction to JESIE and Jiangsu Province. Experienced teacher Andre du Plessis followed with a very informative talk about working in China as a foreign employee from his unique perspective as a former banking executive in South Africa. Assistant Head Teacher Tom Butler reinforced Andre's talk with his own advice about Chinese workplace culture, which included very important information for all new teachers to China.
Academic Director Valerijus Gagas then gave a brief introduction to the Chinese school system, followed by a tutorial on the techniques, methods, and strategies employed by JESIE teachers in the public school classroom. After lunch, Lyra Luo led a talk with all new JESIE teachers on how to smoothly adjust to life in China, as well as some recommendations on places to visit during their time here. Academic Supervisor Kathleen Oleksiuk and Head Teacher Tony Smales closed out the first day with a series of tutorials on learning styles and habits of Chinese students, and how to give proper feedback to students in an ESL classroom.
Day two of the summer orientation workshop was kicked off with two talks given by Academic Director Valerijus Gagas. The first talk detailed the ABCs of lesson planning and class preparation, with a focus on the unique setting of an ESL classroom in China. The second talk was aimed at new JESIE teachers and outlined the importance of scaffolding, followed by a demonstration of a well scaffolded lesson focused on teaching beginner students a simple sentence.
While Valerijus Gagas was teaching scaffolding to the new JESIE teachers, Head Teacher Julie Levesque led a round table discussion on how to fix a poorly written lesson plan with other experienced JESIE teachers. After another delicious JESIE lunch, JESIE teachers were split up based on the level of their students to discuss lesson plans and textbook materials. Academic Director Valerijus Gagas gave a tutorial to all primary school teachers while Academic Supervisor Kathleen Oleksiuk gave a similar talk to all senior school teachers. Following a short break, all Nanjing teachers had their first official staff meeting, so new teachers could have a chance to meet with their supervisors and discuss any questions that may already be on their minds. The day ended with a tutorial on teaching conversational English led by Academic Supervisor Kathleen Oleksiuk and Head Teacher Tony Smales.
Wednesday was a very useful learning experience for new JESIE teachers, as they were given a chance to show what they have learned with a demo lesson focused on teaching vocabulary. Demo lessons are always a nerve racking experience for any teacher, new or experienced, and this year was no different.
On Tuesday afternoon, new JESIE teachers were given their demo assignments by Academic Director Valerijus Gagas, and they had less than 24 hours to design and write a lesson plan. After each demo lesson, JESIE's experienced teachers had a chance to give their feedback to each new teacher. The morning session also included several tutorials on learning through playing games led by experienced teachers Amber Cameron, Hart Ponder, and Assistant Head Teacher Tom Butler.
The highlight of the afternoon was a lesson on learning colors given by Academic Director Valerijus Gagas in a foreign language. The purpose of this lesson was to give JESIE teachers a glimpse into what it is like to be a student in a foreign teacher's classroom in which they are absolute beginners. This tutorial left all JESIE teachers with a better understanding of the need to plan properly scaffolded lessons, speak slowly, and exercise patience with new learners. To wrap up day 3, Head Teacher Julie Levesque and experienced teacher Hart Ponder shared some of their mistakes and valuable lessons learned in their first year of teaching. Each talk was full of excellent advice which will hopefully help steer JESIE's teachers down a path toward a smooth year in their public school classroom.
After an exhausting day 3, JESIE teachers returned for day 4 rejuvenated and refreshed for another day of workshops. Experienced teacher John Davis, Academic Supervisor Kathleen Oleksiuk, and Head Teacher Tony Smales again took to the stage to impart some crucial knowledge about teaching pronunciation. The morning was then rounded out with several demo classes on teaching communication skills. Following lunch, most of the afternoon was geared toward classroom management, which is one of the most important skills a teacher must master in order to be successful in a public school classroom. The last major workshop of day 4 dealt with professional conduct followed by a Wuxi teacher staff meeting.
The final day of the summer workshop saw JESIE teachers and staff gather in the JPDE building for several extremely informative presentations. The first of which was given by a local Nanjing police officer, who brought all JESIE's employees up to speed on the rules and regulations governing foreign workers in Jiangsu Province.
The second presentation, given by Head Teacher Matthew Van Orden, experienced teacher John Davis, and experienced teacher Jafar Abbas, focused on what they wish they knew before living and working in China for the first time. Each teacher focused on a different aspect of being a foreign teacher in an unfamiliar culture, and some ways to make the adjustment easier. Academic Director Valerijus Gagas then gave a talk about the JESIE OPEN DAYS and how each teacher will be expected to contribute.
Before Head Teacher Matthew Van Orden took to the front to give an overview of the year's social media goals and expectations, an exhibition and award ceremony was held to recognize the previous year's video contest award winners. The 2017 Summer Orientation was concluded with a delicious banquet lunch and smiles and laughs were shared by all.