SPIRAL presents model for creating successful international education programs

SPIRAL president, Emily Guo, and senior advisor Dick Taylor, recently travelled to Beijing to appear at a large educational conference organized by Mind Education, and attended by schools and educational organizations from all over the world. They presented a blueprint for building successful international education programs, based on techniques and processes specifically developed and put into practice by SPIRAL. In fact, since May 2013, SPIRAL has worked extensively with Xiang Jiang Secondary School in Guangzhou, China to create a successful AP American high school. The result is:

  • an American curriculum which models that of a successful American public school;
  • highly integrated faculty and administration teams of Chinese and foreign teachers and staff with knowledge of advanced American educational philosophy and best practices;
  • administrators who are well-trained in American leadership skills;
  • and institutionalized short and long term exchange programs for students.  

The program’s success has been notable. All of its graduates have been accepted by top 100 American universities, and 60% of them were admitted to one of the top 50 American universities.  

In order to reach this successful result, everyone involved has worked very hard. SPIRAL’s first step was to find a suitable American school to be a concrete model for Xiang Jiang Secondary School. We invited East Lyme High School in CT, an outstanding American high school, to be the partner school for XJ. Secondly, we hired foreign teachers to teach at XJ, as well as a SPIRAL senior consultant to work on aligning the curriculum and academic structures of the two schools.  And thirdly, SPIRAL set up regular visits (more than 15 trips in 4 years) between the administrators of the two schools which have been very fruitful. For example, after shadowing EL’s principal for three weeks, XJ’s principal made several important changes upon her return to China, including establishing student advisory systems.  In addition, every year, a team of XJ teachers and administrators come to the US for two weeks’ training at EL. EL middle and high school principals have brought teams of teachers to XJ to conduct demo classes. And SPIRAL set up an online teacher mentoring program allowing XJ and EL teachers to connect via Skype or email to exchange ideas about curriculum development and teaching skills and techniques.

Teachers and administrators are not the only participants who have learned a great deal from this experience. For most Chinese youngsters, English is learned out of books, and their only knowledge of American life comes from what they see on TV.  Thanks to the international exchange and study opportunities now built into the students’ curriculum, American language and culture are studied in real life contexts, and the skills learned become meaningful instead of abstract.  These learning activities also provide opportunities for the Chinese students to gain firsthand experience of American schools and to make friends with their American peers, thus preparing them for future study at American universities. 

Click here to see the entire presentation.


Categories: News