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Cutting Edge Professional Development

Lila, we are so happy to talk to you today about the exciting launch of the IETC in China. First, can you tell me a little more about yourself and about the IETC?


I was born in Hong Kong, but grew up in Latin America and eventually studied in the United States. I came to China 20 years ago after working in public schools in California, and have been working in traditional international schools with predominately expatriate population. In the last 8 years, I helped develop, launch and oversee new models of international schools for Chinese host country nationals. This has been an exciting time because these particular schools are relatively new in China, and have been growing at exponential rates – fueled by the growing need for global education at the tertiary level. These schools are unique – their curriculum and many of the teachers are Western-trained non-Chinese speakers, while the students are English language learners. These students are their families are seeking an education that will better prepare them for university studies outside of China, but they also want to maintain their language and cultural identity.

Economic growth in China and the growing awareness and interest about international education has driven the need for new staffing and professional development models – meaning, more Chinese teachers trained to deliver a 21st century learning curriculum, based on proven effective practices.


How did you first realize this need existed for the IETC? Can you share any personal stories or anecdotes?


When I was a classroom teacher, I often asked myself, “What is the relevance between what I am teaching to what my students need to prepare for college and life? How do I measure the effectiveness of my teaching in relation to the learning?” Teacher effectiveness is the greatest predictor for student success. How do teachers become more effective?  My own journey to improve took me through an array of professional development opportunities. Most of these focused on how to apply new strategies and ideas while checking against a predicted outcome, but it was the ones that taught me how to reflect that I found most compelling.

“The biggest effect on student learning occurs when teachers become leaners of their own teaching, and when students become their own teachers.” John Hattie

John Hattie’s Visible Learning had great influence on the founding mission of IETC. Over the years in international education, I’ve met countless non-Western trained educators who are eager to learn and apply pedagogy that are very different than the way they have learned it. They were open to challenge, but more importantly, they were ready to put themselves on the line to reflect on their own values. From my conversations and work with these educators, it became clearer to me that, just as our students in the classroom, the teachers also need to learn in scaffolds. They need to see the relevance of the learning to their teaching in their context.

As host country schools seek to internationalize their education, and traditional international schools aim to better understand and leverage the local language and culture, there is a growing need to help local teachers become proficient in international education practices. IETC believes the professional learning community of international education should be represented by global educators and thus, we believe in helping build capacity amongst the host country educators to facilitate that dialogue. This is an exciting break in traditional thinking, and it is the right thing to do.

What would you say are some of the challenges that exist for Chinese teachers, why would they want to participate in the IETC?


Teachers – local or international – all have long-held beliefs, values and practices that may be in conflict with IETC’s research-based methods. Our challenge as a professional training provider is to present and reinforce new teaching practice in a supportive environment, while respecting each teacher’s gifts and experience. We want to help teachers find connection, expand their knowledge base and elevate their practice so students can benefit.


Can you share any personal stories or observations about the impact this approach has had on Chinese teachers? What are they saying either about the need for it, or what happens to their practice when they experience this kind of learning?

“Transformational” has been the most used one-word description by teachers who have attended our training. Teachers who were very reluctant or even resistant to try the new practice in the classrooms returned to share the immediate impact they registered to student learning: “My students said that was the most interesting and fun activity they have done and they will never forget what they have learned.”

I have been humbled to see teachers who are so open to reflect on their own teaching, experiment with new learning, and delight in the positive impact they have on their students.


What happens to their practice when they experience this kind of learning?

I am looking forward to the time ahead as more teachers participate in the IETC, and we can contribute to the rich dialogue about cross-cultural education.

Check out all of our events and conferences | 2018/19 conference dates: Atlanta, GA, USA (December 9-11, 2018)  •   Bangkok, Thailand (January 4-7, 2019)  •   San Francisco, CA, USA (February 7-10, 2019) |