Friday, April 7, 2017

Working towards the Final of Teaching Excellence Award 

What a pleasant surprise! We have been accepted to represent Taichung City for the Teaching Excellence Award held by the Ministry of Education, competing with other excellent teams all around the country. This award focuses on teamwork, complete with features like student-centered learning, interdisciplinary collaboration, professional learning community, benefitting the majority of students, long-term goals, the involvement of parents and neighboring communities, etc.

It was such a surprise because the judges' feedback and comments were not very positive or friendly after our fifteen- minute presentation and the Q and A session for the preliminaries last Friday. Each of them pointed out some weaknesses and offered their professional advice, leaving us only about three minutes to defend ourselves. What's worse,  we were supposed to have another three more minutes to answer the questions while forcibly interrupted and stopped by the bell ring sounds.

Last year, I almost single-handly prepared for this competition with such short notice, so I didn't expect anything from the preliminaries. It turned out that we only received honorable mention for the final result. This year was a bit different. We already won the International School Award by the British Council Taiwan by conducting a series of Skype Exchange Projects, which gave us much leverage to compete and prove we're truly worth it. On top of that, I really felt I was working with my teammates very hard towards the award this time, with my driven partners' homemade real-life escape rooms built by the students.

Some pressing issues must be addressed properly and effectively if we really mean business to win the grand prize. First of all, we need to build a much stronger bond between those two topics, international education, and real-life escape rooms. Following that, we have to involve more students in both plans, which the principal's help is absolutely necessary to handle red tape and anything like that. Last but not least, students' feedback and reflection on these two have to be well organized in the forms of videos and journals.

It's likely that we'll still end up with nothing in the final this year even though we actually manage to solve all the problems. However, I'm really glad some colleagues of mine can finally come to understand the value of promoting international education in the school, especially when everyone thinks we need to make a change to fight the uphill battle of the shrinking amount of students while very few walks the walk. 

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