A Nepali and an American Walk Into a Classroom…
July 1, 2016
Elise, an English language teacher from the US, was a little hesitant when asked to co-teach 8th grade chemistry in Nepal. To put it lightly, she doesn’t know anything about chemistry. But she does know how to get students talking and working together. And fortunately for Elise, her Nepali partner teacher in the TIEs summer program is Roushan, who can rattle off chemical equations in his sleep. When these two pooled their respective areas of expertise, the result was something totally new and exciting for the class.
Roushan began his 8th grade science class with a short review of chemical equations. Elise then passed out dry-erase markers and mini whiteboards (TIEs collaborated with the school staff to make these from local materials). You could sense the class’ reaction to these materials: “Ooh! This is different!” Elise instructed the students to work in pairs on the whiteboards to balance Roushan’s equations, then hold their boards up high to share.
It might seem like all Elise did was bring a set of whiteboards to the class, but her contribution was much more than that: she introduced a method of engaging students that Roushan hadn’t seen before. Roushan loved it so much that he used the boards in another class period that day. He especially liked the boards as a quick tool for checking student understanding.
This example illustrates the potential of cross-cultural co-teaching. Methods and materials that are commonplace in one part of the globe might be revolutionary in another. And this works both ways. Amy, another American teacher in TIEs’ summer program, discovered a simple yet efficient method for organizing math problems from her Nepali partner teacher, Sabina.
When you step outside the world you know, the littlest of things can have a profound impact.
Written by Timothy Kobus – Founder/Director, TIEs with Teachers
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