Last week, 23 educators from across North America gathered at Stanford University for the 2019 East Asia Summer Institute for High School Teachers, a teacher professional development seminar offered by SPICE in partnership with the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia. Over three days of rich content lectures, discussion, and experiential learning, institute participants deepened their background knowledge on Asia and began to rethink and revamp their curriculum plans for the coming school year.
This year’s participants came from as far away as Concord, New Hampshire and Vancouver, Canada, although most attendees were high school teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area. They represented a wide range of teaching subjects, from history and language arts to statistics and genocide studies, but all sought to strengthen their teaching through a clearer, more nuanced understanding of Asia, U.S.–Asia relations, and the Asian American experience—the three main areas explored in this year’s summer institute.
The institute’s guest speakers came from similarly diverse backgrounds, being scholars, artists, authors, and Stanford University professors with expertise on a specific aspect of Asia, U.S.–Asia relations, or the Asian American experience. Interwoven between their captivating content lectures were classroom-focused lesson demonstrations, hands-on activities, and pedagogy discussions facilitated by SPICE curriculum designers. “We make sure we balance subject-matter content with practical application in all of our teacher professional development seminars,” notes SPICE Director Dr. Gary Mukai. “That’s why we focus so much time and energy on pedagogy and lesson demonstrations. We want to help high school teachers translate their newfound knowledge directly into the classroom.”
To that end, summer institute participants each receive several free books, films, and SPICE lesson plans to help them bring Asia alive for their students. They also receive a stipend and become eligible for three optional units of credit from Stanford Continuing Studies.
“Being in the Bay Area—and particularly at Stanford University—we have access to such incredible experts on these subjects,” says institute coordinator and facilitator Naomi Funahashi. “Our job is to connect those experts with teachers in a way that supports teacher needs. That’s our goal for this summer institute.”
Although the high school teachers have now returned home from Stanford campus, their work is not done. They will now use the content they learned at the summer institute to create original lesson plans to incorporate into their own practice. When they reconvene for a final online session in late July / early August, they will share their lesson plans with each other, and each teacher will walk away with 22 brand new lesson plans designed by their colleagues. “We can’t wait to see what kinds of innovative lessons our teachers will come up with!” says Funahashi. “And we can’t wait to see how they incorporate these new lessons into their plans for the next school year.”
To view photos from the summer institute and read a more comprehensive recap what happened, please see the SPICE Facebook page.
In addition to our high school institute, in most years SPICE also offers the East Asia Summer Institute for Middle School Teachers. To be notified when the next middle school and/or high school institute application period opens, join our email list or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.