Gezhi High School is located a stone’s throw away from People’s Square.
Michael Sainsbury, China correspondent of The Australian, visits Shanghai’s Gezhi High School, one of the top local high schools to find out why this city is consistently producing the world’s top PISA scores. Here’s what he found:
There are no laptops on the desks at Shanghai Gezhi High School. And the blackboard isn’t what you would describe as “interactive”- just chalk and a duster. But the low-tech classroom, filled with 40 kids, is producing great results, possibly the best in the world.
Class sizes in Shanghai are big, sometimes double an Australian class size, but they frequently have two or more teachers in the room at any one time as part of the mentoring system that runs throughout Shanghai.
Every teacher – even the senior teachers – have a mentor who observes their classes and gives feedback on how they might be improved.
Master teachers, who must publish research and have at least one paper peer-reviewed by a selection panel to qualify, work with senior teachers, including principals, in half a dozen schools.
Junior teachers watch at least one class taught by their mentor each week and attend demonstration classes to improve their practical skills.
The result is that every student has a team of teachers working for them, able to adjust the teaching to ensure they keep pace with the rest of the class.
Guo Feiyan, the director of Gezhi’s American high school program, which prepares students to sit US college exams, says one of the keys to the school’s success is the homeroom teacher system. “Each class has a classroom – the teachers, not the students, rotate – and each class has a homeroom teacher who also teaches them some classes,” she says. “The mission of this teacher is to monitor everything – like class rules, the academic performance of each student and the communication with the student’s parents.”