What does it take to be a top school when there are 280,164 schools? Our Mayerson Academy team is honored and delighted to work with Principal Zheng who knows exactly just what to do to achieve that at the Nan’ao Experimental School Affiliated with Beijing Normal University.
Here is a short list of some of the things that make this leader and this school stand out among K-8 schools in China.
Honor teachers and the teaching profession
Offices are something most professionals take for granted, but for K-8 teachers, office space is a rare luxury. At the Nan’ao Experimental School, all teachers have office space that they use when they are not teaching. Teachers teach three classes a day (about half of their day) and the remainder of their time is spent preparing for classes, engaging in professional learning, and working with parents and students. Teachers have two collaboration periods and one whole group meeting every week with seven days committed to professional learning each year. What is the result? At the end of each semester, they publish a book documenting what they have learned and how they have improved.
Invite and engage parents (really)
Parents are invited every Thursday to drop in anytime, anywhere in the building to observe, volunteer, collaborate, etc. When they come to the school, any day of the week, there is space dedicated to them to make it easily accessible and inviting for them to be active members of the learning community.
Activate authentic learning and student voice
School leaders actively seek to bring noted authorities to campus to build the capacity of teachers for their continuous growth and development. As a result, teachers work across disciplines to create robust project-based learning that encourages student leadership and voice. This year, students are welcoming back teachers with a whiteboard that shares their thinking about what will help them grow and develop this year.
Build long-term connections
Having joined the founding leadership team 15 years ago, the principal himself is a model of a long-term connection. The school also seeks to build long-term connections with each one of its students. Each student contributes a book to the school library which becomes part of the school’s permanent collection. Students come back to the school after they graduate to read notes they wrote to their future selves while they were still enrolled. The school is a living timeline, with beautiful photos and stories depicting and celebrating the school’s milestones and connecting the community to its shared history.
Attend to the whole child
It is clear from the stated and enacted mission expressed by everyone from the school leadership to staff and faculty that students are seen as unique individuals with unique capacities for which the school has both the privilege and the responsibility to develop. With an extraordinary range of learning experiences from piano lessons to hair styling, to soccer, the school is committed to meeting the interests of all learners. As the staff seeks to know individuals through their strengths, they are continuously supporting their engagement, motivation, learning, and performance.