Partnership offers support to K–12 students internationally

By

Meghan Krein

The Maple Leaf Partnership, which kicked off this semester, placed eight MLFTC Secondary Education master’s degree students in virtual classrooms in China to complete their internships. The partnership is with Maple Leaf Education Systems in China and is another way Mary Lou Fulton Teachers college is broadening its global reach. 

The MLFTC students work in teams with lead teachers in China, and are also connected to the leadership of their placement school for additional support. 

“Through our partnership with Maple Leaf Educational Systems, our MLFTC interns support Maple Leaf educators and students by providing personalized learning that supports individual campus needs, through synchronous and asynchronous virtual instruction,” says Gina Conner, clinical assistant professor. “This model enhances the current Maple Leaf instructional framework, provides support for Maple Leaf educators, contributes to personalized learning experiences for students, and broadens the expertise and cultural competence of our pre-service teachers.. 

Maple Leaf Educational Systems was founded in 1995 and operates the first and largest offshore Canadian accredited dual-diploma boarding school program in China. The school offers a variety of programs, in a variety of academic settings, accepting students of any age. 

“The college's vision is for a long-term partnership that will lead to an on-ground cohort teaching in China and expanding to other countries,” says Tera McDonald, instructor. 

In addition to the required coursework, students attend three live virtual sessions about international education in China. Lead teachers also receive training at the beginning of the semester, such as guidance through weekly office hours from instructors and WeChat connections — the only approved social media in China — to offer support. 

The MLFTC interns work with students, all of whom speak English proficiently, to learn the best teaching practices, internationally. “We are able to compare and contrast frequently to better develop lessons that engage students,” McDonald says. 

“I am working with two lead teachers and have the opportunity to participate in multiple class settings across three subject areas. I’ve been able to observe a diverse range of teaching styles and gain a better understanding of working with students in their English immersion coursework. The students have been fun to work with and seem genuinely excited to have me there,” says Warren Harris, an MLFTC student in the program. 

Despite the 15-hour time difference, each month MLFTC’s lead teachers and Maple Leaf’s superintendents use Zoom for updates. This ongoing communication allows data to be gathered in an effort to improve student progress and growth. 

“We hope to grow the program to include master’s-level elementary teachers, in addition to secondary master’s apprentice teachers in the fall. Our long-term goal is to allow the apprentice teachers to go to Maple Leaf sites to complete their internship and student teaching opportunities,” says McDonald.