Steve Seid, Superintendent of Clarke Community Schools, recently had the great opportunity to present at the 2nd Annual Conference of Global K-12 Education Research Association held in Shijiazhuang, China.
The education conference, focusing on Global Literacy, was held at the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School, a private school of about 12,000 students ranging from kindergarten through 12th grade. Approximately 500 attendees from 15 countries including Australia, Great Britain, Russia, Denmark, Italy, and Japan, spent five days at the school, sharing ideas about how to battle the growing need for stronger literacy plans. Three days were spent giving and watching presentations from diverse educators, including Superintendent Seid, while the final two days allowed attendees time to experience the school. They were assigned students to shadow in various classes such as music, English and art classes, and were able to sit in small group discussions where students and educators could ask questions and share ideas. One such question from a fourth grade student was whether Superintendent Seid thought learning through theory or hands-on was more effective.
Literacy is already a strong focus for Clarke Community Schools, and some new programs implemented throughout the district were very well received by representatives from other countries with strong education reputations, such as Finland. Clarke’s “Win-Win” program, which provides students additional instruction in subjects they may be struggling with rather than sitting in a study hall, was the topic of many conversations. Superintendents and Principals from more than one country approached Superintendent Seid to learn more about the program. For Steve Seid the presentations from other countries were confirmation that Clarke Schools is on the right track when it comes to literacy.
Things we have already implemented at Clarke are innovative, and schools from around the world are asking how we have done Win-Win and how we integrate literacy into all curricular areas,” said Superintendent Seid. “Clarke students don’t see literacy as a separate subject. For example, our math teachers begin each lesson with reading strategies, because it’s important for the students to realize that literacy is imperative to understanding and excelling in all areas of curriculum.”
While literacy was the main topic of the education conference, there was an exchange of ideas among the teachers, counselors, and other educators regarding the global epidemic of mental health issues in schools and communities, as well as the way students are assessed and how that information is presented.
I found that a lot of countries don’t assess all of their students, the way we do here in the United States and that there are other discrepancies that skew the data,” said Seid. “Some of the countries that we view as leaders in education don’t assess 100% of their students, perhaps only the top 90% are included. You hear about the long school days in China, but what you don’t hear is that all students and teachers take a nap in the middle of the day. The school we visited had an excellent curriculum that included art, dance, music and robotics as well as core subjects, but it’s important to remember this is a private school without the budget restrictions of public schools.”
If you have any questions or would like to ask Steve about his trip, please contact him by email or give his office a call at (641) 342-4969.