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HCPSS Welcomes Korean Science Teacher Delegation

January 23rd, 2020

South Korean and HCPSS teachers observing a female student doing a science experiment.

Earlier this month, HCPSS welcomed its seventh delegation of South Korean science teachers in a professional development and cultural exchange program, benefitting both visiting and HCPSS participants. The 41 teacher delegates visited secondary classrooms to study best practices in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) instruction and implementation of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

International Student and Family Services Specialist Min Woo said, “It’s wonderful that our teachers and students can embrace that we’re on the cutting edge of science education, as we’re the only place the Korean Ministry of Education sends its teachers for STEM science professional development. At the same time, our teachers can gain valuable perspective on how others teach around the world.”

South Korean science teachers observing students.

“We researched which county is the best county to send our teachers into the classroom, and we feel lucky to cooperate with Howard County, which has a high quality of education here,” said Suryun Han, the secondary science and GT supervisor for the Busan Metropolitan City Office of Education in Korea. “This is a great chance for our teachers to see how American teachers manage project-based and STEM-based NGSS classrooms, control behavior and help different abilities.”

Among the many benefits gained from the exchange, HCPSS Coordinator of Secondary Science Mary Weller and her team emphasize that Howard County schools can share how they teach “all standards for all students,” meaning all students take a sequence of high school classes that provide them with rigorous learning of science applications. Visiting teachers can see “how engaging science practices with diverse populations deepens the understanding of science.”

Female HCPSS teacher speaks to students while female South Korean teacher listens.

Wilde Lake High School, which hosted five Korean teachers this year, exemplifies how a school can support a diverse body of students, with a population representing more than 70 countries. Wilde Lake Advanced Physical Science, Forensic Science and Biology Teacher Stefanie Jones, who formerly served in the military and has seen schools around the world, said: “No matter the kid’s background or level, we help each student access the curriculum here.”

The teachers are paired by speciality while getting glimpses into a range of classes. Visiting teachers at Wilde Lake observed student-centered learning through microscope analysis of blood samples, group problem solving on carbon cycling issues, a lab on circular motion, and more.

Male South Korean teacher observes HCPSS students doing math.

Biology Teacher and Science Instructional Team Leader Jamie Proctor concluded, “The best parts of the experience are: building relationships with teachers across continents and learning what teaching looks like somewhere else; and having conversations on why we’re doing this because the reasons are the same. Regardless of language or culture, we’re all teachers to support student growth and get students excited about science.”

Smiling female South Korean science teacher.