When the closing ceremony for the Teaching Excellence Fellows Program ended on Thursday, none of the participants seemed in any hurry to leave the room.
The 13-week program, which began in November, brought 26 faculty members from Chongqing Normal University, the Chinese partner university to TROY’s Confucius Institute, to the Troy Campus to study educational methods in the United States. TROY’s Confucius Institute, Office of International Programs and the College of Education were partners in the program.
After receiving certificates for their participation in the program, the visiting faculty members milled around the room, taking photos and bidding farewell to members of the TROY faculty who served as their mentors during their visit.
“We are excited and eager to go back and share what we have learned here at TROY with our colleagues,” said Ting Cao, a lecturer at CNU. “We also take back good memories of TROY, the wonderful people we met, and the experience we have had. All of those will never be erased from our minds.”
Through coursework and observation, the program focused on teaching methodologies, curriculum development and educational technology.
“I believe I learned a lot about teaching practice and the field trips allowed us to observe the educational practice at the various levels educational institutions from pre-school all the way to the University,” Ting Cao said. “I have a better understanding of the teaching theories such as the active learning, inclusive learning, the instructional system design, the STEM curriculum and the educational technology.”
Dr. Earl Ingram, Senior Vice Chancellor of Academics Affairs, said the program focused on the scholarship on the process of teaching.
“As teachers, we must always be researching the best ways to do what we do,” Ingram said. “Sometimes the content and method doesn’t change much, but the students do change. The opportunity to share is very important. I believe that our TROY faculty mentors probably learned as much about teaching and gained an understanding about the Chinese perspective about teaching. This has provided a doorway for the faculty of TROY and CNU to pass back and forth as they share ideas.”
Ingram said the program cannot and will not be a one-time event.
“It must be the start of a continuous teacher and maybe student teacher exchange program between TROY and CNU,” he said. “We must continue to look at curriculum and methods that make us better as teachers. The lives that we touch keep going out and touching so many lives, so how we do our job as teachers has a tremendous impact.”
Dr. Dionne Rosser-Mims, who led the program, agreed, saying the forging a long-term relationship was one of the main goals.
“One of the main goals of this program is to forge a long-term relationship with Chongqing Normal University to have faculty from there to come here to experience this program, but also for us to send our faculty and students to their university,” Rosser-Mims said. “They came here to learn from us, but we learned a great deal from them. The faculty and staff involved have learned a significant amount about the culture, their research interests and methods of teaching.”
Dr. Curt Porter, TROY’s senior international officer, hopes the program will lead to an even greater sense of internationalization at TROY.
“We hope in the future that TROY faculty will be able to spend time at CNU and that we can continue to develop these relationships that have begun through this program,” Porter said. “We hope that, together, we can bring about a synthesis that leads to an even higher level of internationalization.”