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Shanghai teachers: report from English primary classrooms published

Created on 20 November 2014 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 20 November 2014 by ncetm_administrator

The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) has brought out a special report on the progress of the current Shanghai teacher exchange, which is a central component of the England – China project, itself one of the main areas of work being run within the Maths Hubs programme.

Twenty-nine teachers from schools in Shanghai are working in 22 primary schools across England this month (November 2014), teaching in exactly the same way they do in China. In each school, the Shanghai teacher is working closely with a partner teacher who participated in the outward leg of the exchange, when 71 English teachers visited Shanghai in September.

Among the striking elements of the report are quotes from the English host teachers, who’ve been closely observing, and working with, their Shanghai colleagues since the beginning of the month.

Among the comments are these:

‘We continue to be impressed and slightly humbled by the ease with which they (the Chinese teachers) incorporate procedural and conceptual variation into their lessons, and the students that they are teaching are already showing a deeper understanding of the underlying concepts covered.’

‘Teachers in our school have been impressed by the small steps that are taken (by the Shanghai teachers) to develop deep understanding, and this has enabled them to reflect on their own practice, and they are keen to try out some ideas in their own classrooms.’

‘Our teachers have been blown away by the variety of concepts taught (by the Shanghai teachers) within 35 minutes.’

‘The detail in which the concepts are taught is striking and nothing is assumed, everything is taught explicitly.’

Commenting the progress of the exchange visit so far, the NCETM’s Director Charlie Stripp, said:

‘I am thrilled by the success of the exchange so far; by the positive reaction to Shanghai teaching of the English teachers who visited Shanghai, by the quality of the teaching from the Shanghai teachers currently in England, by the willingness of our pupils to adapt to being taught maths by a teacher from Shanghai and by the open and enthusiastic way in which the Shanghai and English teachers are working together to observe and analyse lessons in great detail, so we can understand and learn from the subtleties of the Shanghai teaching. The teachers and pupils involved are really benefitting from the exchange and I’m sure it will help catalyse lasting improvements in our primary maths teaching.’

The Maths Hubs programme is coordinated by the NCETM and funded by the Department for Education.

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09 December 2014 13:51
The teachers in China do have less contact hours its true, but they have many more students to look after and have more responsibilities outside of class.They are every bit as burdenened as teachers in England!

I have been working closely with a primary school in Beijing this year to help the teachers introduce student centred methods and have worked closely with the maths teachers to deliver lessons out of the text books and make them student centred. Their maths text books are extremely comprehensive. As you have identified, the main difference is how well thought out their text books are so that the teachers can really teach new concepts in fantastic detail. The teachers are also given support materials that are excellent too. They really are worth having a look at.

However they can also learn from us in the way that we help students to understand connections between concepts. They are still teaching in quite a linear way-for example they don't discuss the connection between decimal division and place value.
09 December 2014 12:12
This is fascinating work and an extremely worthwhile project. However, I am very frustrated at the lack of conversation about the amount of contact time the Chinese teachers have. This is at the absolute heart of the entire Singapore/Shanghai approach. At secondary level (as I understand it) a teacher will rarely deliver more than two hours teaching a day, with the rest of their time dedicated to the sort of meticulous and thorough marking, planning and CPD described above. This is the elephant in the room. Give teachers time to the their jobs well and they will.
By tomdodson101
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09 December 2014 11:35
Either these teachers have been handpicked, or Shanghai is completely different from the rest of China. I now teach in China and the Chinese students I teach tell horror stories about their past in local schools - rote learning in large classes driven by Chinese University entrance tests that are very narrow with no application or understanding required.
By likeglue2
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26 November 2014 19:56
This sounds very similar to the methods I saw being used in Hong Kong and Singapore - very methodical, embedding deep undertsanding before rushing on to the next topic as we must do in this country. The results speak for themselves.
26 November 2014 12:41
What a great read. This is such an exciting project. I makes me want to return to the classroom to try these ideas out. I notice that the children in the photos have been arranged in rows although no mention is made as to whether this is an influence from Shanghai approach.
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