Staff Focus: Our Chinese Coordinators

Written by Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer

Let’s meet Michelle Wang (ECE), Sissy Shen (Primary) and Amy Yang (Secondary), the heads of the respective Chinese Departments as we unravel the reasons for 4 consecutive years of IGCSE First in the World in Mandarin awards.

YCIS is known for keeping their teachers for a long period of time. Please tell me about your study background, how long you have been working at the school and what you have taught or which position you have occupied before?

Michelle: This is my 15th year (I joined in 2003) – I have a teaching degree in Early Childhood and my specialty was drawing. I liked water color painting and cartoon character drawing. I started at YCIS as K1 Teacher (at that time there was a class for 18 month children). Otherwise, I have taught every level K2, K3 up to K4 which allows me to fully support teachers in my role of ECE Coordinator. Apart from every child’s need being different, every key development stage also has their needs and specific areas of development.

Sissy: I have been teaching in YCIS for almost 10 years, and this is my 13th teaching year. I graduated from East China Normal University where I got the master degree in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages and my teaching degree in Childhood Education. I also have a bachelor degree in Administration and a vocational qualification of Psychological Consultant. I have taught from Primary Year 1 to Year 6 and I’m still teaching Year 6 Chinese. I enjoy spending some time in the classroom to teach, which helps me to understand more about students, optimize the curriculum and support teachers as well. I am passionate about pedagogy, psychology, international education and leadership. I think it’s very important to provide a holistic education for students, supporting their social and emotional development, as well as their academic development, to prepare them for the wider and longer experience of life. That’s why I love YCIS’s philosophy – to nurture the whole person and raise globally competent and compassionate leaders, and our school and the whole YCIS community put the philosophy into good practice.

Amy: This is my 13th year and 8th year as head of department. The reasons why I have enjoyed staying at our Pudong campus for such a long time are: Stable leadership team, low staff turnover and good professional relationship between western teachers and Chinese teachers. Every year, I have new experiences. I took an IB training and became an IB examiner together with my colleagues. I applied for Apple Distinguished Teacher with ICT teachers and try to apply those pedagogies to our CP iPad programme. Furthermore, I benefitted from the experiences of developing the Chinese curriculum and being involved in the Bi-cultural programme. CIS (Council of International Schools) invited me to be part of an accreditation team and I attended accreditations for schools in Hong Kong, Adelaide and Tasmania. Currently, I’m studying a Harvard online course together with 12 other staff in Secondary and during our school days, we are excited to share our interdisciplinary teaching strategies through our Pineapple Board (Peer Observation). So working in YCIS Pudong makes me stay humble and keeps me enthusiastic about learning and teaching. Furthemore, I also got opportunities to turn my hobbies of photography and visual designs into my expertise. I enjoy running Photography CCA and helping editing Secondary WeChat posts very much.

Thank you for sharing! And thank you Amy for already anticipating my second question! What do you like about YCIS? What keeps you at YCIS?

Michelle: I really like the ECE Programme, because it follows children’s interests and thus allows more learning opportunities for them. YCIS is a nice community to work in. ECE is like a family, a multi-cultural family. Different colleagues – different cultures. What makes it special is our Co-Teaching model that takes place all day long. Every day, we learn and experience how Western and Eastern culture work together and most importantly, we are a role model to the children who will be living in this global world.

Sissy: I like YCIS for the unique bilingual environment and structure. As Chinese teachers, we do not only teach about Chinese language but we are also a main teacher and we teach and learn about world education. I really enjoy learning from all my colleagues both the international and Chinese teachers. All knowledge learnt is valuable. You see, in the school, I get to use all my different skills and interest: management, communication, teaching, design, dancing and even drama skills!

Amy: I would like to add that seeing students grow is what keeps me at YCIS too. When students are very young, you cannot see what they will become. But when you stay longer, you can see all seeds you may have planted grow and feel proud of them. What motivates me in teaching, is to see their achievement and amazing results, and you see them progress as a person. Also, at YCIS through the CAS programme and the CCAs, you can see the students who have built their own area of interest and develop their skills. Sharing my skills with the students is also something that I enjoy a lot!

Do you want to know something special about them?

Michelle is Shanghainese and before, people lived very close to each other because of the Shikumen building architecture. She was the oldest child in the building so during Summer holidays, she was taking care of all the other children of the building by organizing a lot of games. In her pastime, she enjoys reading stories all kinds of books. She also likes to travel. My favorite place is the Maldives because the view is a poster card view in real life: ocean, beach

Sissy had her first job in a local school where she questioned what real education might be. Then she wanted to change her career to be a psychological consultant and in 2008, after the massive earthquake in Sichuan, she went there to help some schools in remote areas. After she came back from Sichuan, she decided to join YCIS. Her different interests and studies converged in her current job position in the global education with YCIS. You never know what your future holds for you. Every step you make will take a shape, every choice you make will have a meaning. Do you know about the story of Steve Jobs and the Mac Fonts? An interest in a calligraphy class and work in a computer company! “Keep learning and experiencing new things. You never know how or when it may make an impact in the future.”

Amy’s parents were both teachers and when she was a university student, she got a national scholarship! Her dedication in her personal interests in photography and visual design speak for themselves! If you don’t know about the photo committee, go and check the school photo gallery (password: RPCP). Also, the students’work will be printed in postcards and distributed as prizes during Chinese New Year House Competition! If you haven’t seen the CP Open Morning leaflet, go and check the Wechat Subscription for Lower and Upper Secondary!

Last but not least, both Amy and Sissy have been invited this year to Changshu to run workshops in a conference with more than 300 participants from other international schools!