They are kindergarteners in a Mandarin language program, but we are not your everyday Chinese language class!
What makes this program unique is that our school has a high percentage of historically under-served students and we have no native Mandarin speakers, so our students are learning Chinese as a second (and in some cases third or fourth) language. It's stunning to see how much Chinese our students learn in one short year! By second grade, they are having complete conversations with their Chinese teachers. It's truly amazing.
Our program model is a one-way immersion in which students are with me for half the day learning in English, and they spend the other half of the day immersed in Mandarin. It's a puzzle, but I like puzzles, and the classes at this conference go a long way to help me put the pieces together so my students have a positive and enriching kindergarten experience.
So often, professional developments are aimed at "primary" or "K-2" teachers, but the chasm between first day of kindergarten and first day of first or second grade is VAST. This conference knows that, and has gathered some of the best kindergarten teachers in the country to share their knowledge. I will attend 14 classes in 4 days, and I will be able to choose my topics to fit my needs, as there are usually 6 or 8 classes to choose from in each session. I have done this for the past two years, using up my professional development funds, but I really hope to make it again this year. It's the most enriching professional development I've had in my 14 years of teaching.
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