In April 2012, 16 principals joined a study trip organized by the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools (AHSS) to Weifang, Shandong on Self-regulated Learning (SRL).
The trip was initiated as the Association was aware of the latest classroom reforms that took place in Shandong Province, China – SRL, a new learning and teaching mode in contrast to the conventional mode of ‘chalk and talk’. It was a great break- through especially in the classrooms in China.
The reform first took place in a rather low standard school in which many of its achievement indicators were below average, if not poor. The principal was brave enough to introduce a complete overhaul of the lesson structure which emphasized the reduction of teachers’ teaching (‘lecturing’) time while fostering students’ participation and ownership of their learning. Such a change did not mean that teachers could do nothing and adopt a laissez faire policy on students’ learning. Instead, teachers spent much of their time in preparation and detailed planning about the learning goals students need to master. They meticulously planned for the lesson structure, students’ preparation work sheets, probing questions that aroused students’ interest and solicited their higher order thinking.
At the same time, students need to prepare well for the lesson with the help of the preparation work sheet before coming to the lesson. With good knowledge about what was to be covered in the lesson, students could engage in very meaningful discussions, mutual teaching and presentation about their findings. Everyone were on tasks in lessons and they participated very actively. They would also take turn to present their learning and findings. They would evaluate, comment and appreciate one another’s presentation and viewpoints. The role of the teacher in the lesson was more like a facilitator.
This turned out to be very successful, resulting in tremendous improvements in all areas. The success had prompted many schools in the province (and later some other regions as well) to follow suit and this has attracted many educators who are committed to classroom reforms. With the kind introduction and recommendation by Professor Hau Kit Tai (侯傑泰教授), the AHSS was able to organize the 2012 trip which participants all found very fruitful. Of course, pre-trip reading and briefing were also contributing to its success.
After the trip, many participants were interested in introducing the reform concept in local classrooms settings based on their own schools’ situation. Six schools joined together and formed a quality circle in which they shared very practical experiences on its implementation. Most changed classroom settings and held joined staff development day on the new teaching and learning mode. Besides very detailed lesson planning, they also took time and efforts in designing the preparation and revision worksheets. Lessons were open for colleagues’ observation within and between schools which resulted in very good mutual exchanges.
The interest in this new classroom reform was so intense that another trip was arranged in March 2013 to the same city. This time, not only principals went but also teachers of the learning circle as well. Altogether there were 3 principals and 27 teachers. The trip was as fruitful as the first one, if not more. This time, principals and teachers were able to get wisdom on very practical issues as they have started the implementation as well. Besides the trip to Weifang, several trips were organized in those two years to Guangzhou for some schools there were trying out SRL (or its adapted mode).
This the second booklet which contains a collection of participants’ learning and reflection during the two trips to Weifang. While the articles are mostly written in Chinese, it is much hoped that non-Chinese readers are able to get some ideas from this executive summary. They are encouraged to contact the Association or individual schools for more details.