Mrs. Isaacs travels to China as part of teacher exchange program


Elyse Perry, Staff Writer

During July, English teacher Mrs. Isaacs joined a group of teachers from Indiana in traveling overseas to China to teach Chinese students. They traveled with an organization working from Indianapolis called the Chinese Education Connection (CEC) to teach Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math, often referred to as STE(A)M. During the trip, Mrs. Isaacs was able to practice new methods of learning and teaching, as well as experience a new culture. 

Mrs. Isaacs arrived in China on July 2. However, she did not start teaching until July 5. With these four days, she took some time to acquaint herself with the culture. She said that going to China really made her appreciate everything she has here. From toilets to food, life is very different. “It makes you come home and be very appreciative of the simple things… like toilets, toilet paper, a variety of food.” One night she was confronted with a bowl of live shrimp sitting on the table in front of her. She stated, “My rule as far as eating was to keep an open mind, but it had to be cooked, and it couldn’t have a head staring at me.” She was also able to go sightseeing, which entailed attractions such as the Great Wall of China, the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square. However, even with all of these major tourist destinations, her favorite thing to see was the way in which the people lived and interacted with one another. 

During her month teaching, Mrs. Isaacs worked with a teacher from Zionsville at a school in Hangzhou, China. Together, they taught the students about kinetic and potential energy, as well as gravity through a unit on roller coasters. Due to the STEAM curriculum, most of the activities were taught through hands-on experience. Though the Indiana teachers learned a handful of Chinese phrases, a translator was needed to bridge the language gap between the students and the teachers for full understanding of the lessons. Although she went there to teach, she knew that she was going to learn new techniques and methods of teaching as well, especially as she is an English teacher and not a primary teacher of STEAM. She said, “It was interesting just to see how their education has adapted their way of thinking versus the way our students think.” The education system in China is very dictated, causing the students to think inside-of-the-box in contrast to the creative, out-of-the-box learning approach used in the United States. She mentioned the similarity in our education systems, stating, “[It was] not really so much different, because I think kids are kids no matter where you go.” Mrs. Isaacs has already applied to go again next year.