Xiao Yin, a professor at Central China Normal School, enjoyed visiting Pam Delfino ’10 and her first-grade class at Minetto (N.Y.) Elementary School in June as the students gave PowerPoint presentations about Hurricane Katrina in a segment about “Wild Weather.”
Yin said she was impressed with the small class size, the technology sophistication, equipment available in the primary school classroom and the style of teaching. She said it was very different from her son’s classrooms in Wuhan, China.
The visit to the Minetto school was an important part of the day’s activities for the 18 teachers from China who were attending SUNY Oswego’s International Professional Achievement Academy at the School of Education. The visit enabled the Chinese delegation to see the practical application of a lesson taught by School of Education Professor Amanda Fenlon earlier in the day about using technology to educate students in an inclusive setting.
“We’ve been an inclusive school for 25 years,” said Minetto School Principal Julie Kimmel-Gorman ’94 M’01 CAS ’11. “I hope our visitors look in our inclusive classes and can’t tell which students have [individualized education plans] and which don’t.”
Robert Duffy CAS ’07, director of special programs at Minetto, said the school adopted an inclusive model decades before others and based the classroom setup on the “zone of proximal development,” or an idea that kids learn best with others, especially alongside other children.
The International Professional Achievement Academy brings teachers, administrators and scholars from around the world to learn about a variety of learning styles and methods from School of Education faculty. This summer, the school hosted the Chinese delegation for two weeks in mid-June as well as approximately 30 principals and school leaders from India earlier that month.
“These groups are coming to SUNY Oswego because we have been recognized as a leader in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment,” said newly appointed School of Education Dean Pam Michel. “We focus on the individual needs of the particular group. Each professional development series is designed by our faculty to meet the needs of whatever institution or organization is being received.”
For example, the presentation for the Indian delegation focused on educational leadership while mixing in curriculum, instruction and special education topics. The on-campus presentations were building on the work of School of Education faculty members who traveled to India last year to deliver professional development courses.
“We came to show them what SUNY Oswego has to offer, and they loved it,” said Jason MacLeod ’12 M’14, project and operations coordinator for the Achievement Academy. “They couldn’t get enough of the instruction they were receiving. They wanted to come to the United States and learn about pedagogy, technology and educational leadership. And who better to teach that than our School of Education faculty?”
The workshops for the Chinese delegation covered how to use instructional technology to enhance teaching for all learners. These educators’ involvement in the Achievement Academy stems from a larger partnership between SUNY Oswego and Central China Normal School, which encourages opportunities for faculty and student exchanges.
“When we bring people from other countries to our campus, we certainly learn about new cultures,” Michel said. “They expand our knowledge about teaching as well.”