Some 30 education directors from private schools in China converged on Revere High School (RHS) last Thursday morning for a personal tour and general discussion about how to keep on the cutting edge of urban education.
The educators – who also toured Boston Latin School, BC High School and Boston Renaissance Charter School – came to Massachusetts as part of a cooperative program run by UMass-Boston Professor Wenfan Yan. Yan runs a program that many Revere educators have participated in and that connection has led him to believe that Revere is a perfect showcase for urban education.
On Thursday morning, the Chinese educators walked excitedly around the hall ways – enthusiastically taking pictures of long-forgotten plaques on the wall, admiring trophies from another decade and videotaping the movements of students through the corridors when the bells rang to signal the end of a period.
Following the playing of both the American and Chinese National Anthems in the RHS Library, the 30 Chinese educators settled down for a discussion with Supt. Paul Dakin, Mayor Dan Rizzo, members of the School Committee and Principal Lourenco Garcia.
The discussion was translated by an interpreter.
Garcia talked a lot about the “flipped classroom,” a new practice where students take a more active role in the learning process.
“The students actually listen to the teacher lectures at home on their iPads,” he said. “When they come to class, it’s for discussion of the lesson. There is a flip in learning going on that requires students to dig deeper and show up to class to discuss the material on a deeper, cognitive level. It’s no longer a lecture period where they just listen to the teacher. The teacher in front of the classroom lecturing and determining the curriculum being taught is old. It is no longer useful. We can’t do that any longer.”
Mayor Rizzo said he hoped the visit could spark more of partnership with the Chinese schools and Revere.
“Hopefully one day you all will be able to welcome us to a school in China as well,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to share what we’re all doing.”
Supt. Paul Dakin said one of the keys to the change in education at the high school is the decade-long investment in technology. He said the school has one of the largest and fastest data lines in the state – allowing the infrastructure to handle so many students using iPads.
In addition, the RHS first-ever Mandarin language class welcomed and sang for the guests.
The class has seen great interest, with 35 students opting to take the new language offering this year.
Members of that class wrapped up the morning by giving the guests guided tours through several classrooms at the high school.
“I thought this was an amazing experience and it was far more than what I expected,” said School Committee member Dan Maguire. “We were able to showcase our school to an international audience and that doesn’t happen every day. They were all excited to be here and learn from us.”