January 7, 2016
In their colourful classroom at Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS)’s Regency Park Campus, Kindergarten 3 (K3) Early Childhood Education (ECE) Co-Teachers, Nadine Fletcher and Michelle Wang, guide the learning of 20 three- and four- year-olds. South African Nadine and Shanghai native Michelle discuss how they work together to create an inspiring and friendly learning environment for inquisitive young minds.
Please tell us about the benefits of the co-teaching relationship.
Michelle: Co-teaching is a great way to engage the students in a dual language and cultural environment. My relationship with Nadine is similar to a marriage, where there has to be good and constant communication in order to be successful. As teachers, we are also always learning, and although I’ve been working as a Co-Teacher at YCIS for over 12 years, I greatly appreciate how Nadine offers her own unique perspective.
Nadine: I agree! It’s great to work with Michelle because we can plan and deliver our lessons together, and the children are very comfortable with us both. The atmosphere is particularly comforting for those students who are starting school for the first time.
How does co-teaching in English and Chinese help the students?
Michelle: It creates not only a bilingual environment, but also a bicultural one, where from an early age the children become comfortable around different languages and people from different cultures. It certainly is a huge benefit for their language development, as we use both English and Chinese to explain our lessons and activities.
The “learning through play” model is special at YCIS – can you give any examples of this in action?
Nadine: Learning through play allows the children to experiment and take a role in their own learning. This term, for instance, we observed that our children were interested in mixing paints, so we created lessons around colours and used primary paints to encourage the children to mix them together to make different colours. This led to more lessons where we explored the colours of the rainbow and sang related songs.
What do you enjoy most about working with your students?
Michelle: Every child is unique in the their interactions, the way they express themselves, and how they learn. Getting to know the children and seeing them progress over the course of the year is extremely rewarding.