Where does your international research/engagement take place?
Please briefly describe your research/activity?
Since 2016, I collaborate annually in research and teaching with the faculty at the Center for Teacher Educational Research, Beijing Normal University. We focus on sustaining teacher growth and professionalism. Each year, in late spring and/or the summer, I am at the center working with BNU's faculty and their graduate students on designing, teaching in & researching face-to-face and virtual teacher professional development programs. I am accompanied by IU graduate students & instructors.
Why does your research/activity matter?
The activity provides a means for my IU graduate students and I to not only exchange ideas but also to gain comparative insights into the unique and situated sociocultural factors that mediate as well as support teacher growth. Additionally, involving teachers from both sides of the cultural aisle in sharing teacher insider knowledge, is one of the most effective form of professional development. Teachers trust each other’s insider knowledge and experience more than anything else.
What led you to this research/activity?
I see research and practice as having a symbiotic relationship as one informs the other and vice-versa. From a sociocultural perspective, teacher development is a situated phenomenon. Each context and instructional medium bring about new opportunities and challenges for the teacher. Understanding them helps me to be a better researcher and teacher educator.
What problem do you hope this research/activity will solve/what are your hopes for this work?
Our project attempts to address two prevailing problems. First is the disjuncture between theory and practice. When teachers and teacher educators are immersed jointly in this project, they engage in theorizing practice together. This project attempts to debunk the stereotypes of the superiority of expertise from one source or another. In our case, we are able to see how teacher knowledge from the US & China complement and jointly inform our practices and research.
How will your work create change for the better?
The research & teaching activity provided my team and I a chance to reflect on what we and our Chinese colleagues are doing well. We bring all the back to our respective classrooms. For example, what impresses the Chinese teachers is our use of dialogue & interaction in teaching. On our part, we are impressed by the multiple reinforcements in the Chinese classroom & the life-long teacher mentorship (jiaoyanzu). It is evident through the project that we have much to learn from each other.