For six weeks, teachers from foreign countries, as a part of the Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program (TEA), visited the US and were hosted by various schools to spread cultural knowledge and help the teachers improve their skills. Teachers at AHS hosted the foreign teachers for seven days, and during that time, the visiting teachers observed how AHS classrooms function.
According to Ms. Doucet, a science teacher at AHS who hosted one of the teachers, The Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program, which is coordinated by the US department of State, strives “to engage teachers from nations that usually academically have a lot of challenges.” AHS is not the only school that is participating here in Massachusetts. Chelmsford also hosted the foreign teachers, who were part of the UMASS Lowell section of the program out of three different locations participating.
To make the most out of their stay in the US, the TEA program included a full itinerary. The week of January 27th the teachers arrived in Washington D.C., where they stayed for the first week of their trip. Then, according to Doucet, “they [broke] up to their individual schools and they [learned] about education through courses at UMASS Lowell.” The teachers also spent seven school days at either AHS or Chelmsford High School to observe classes.
In the classrooms at AHS, the teachers worked differently depending on what they teach in their home countries and “their personality and how comfortable they are with English,” according to Doucet. In order to be accepted into the program, the teachers had to take a verbal and written test to see how proficient they are in English. Teachers who are more proficient in English had an easier time communicating and connecting with the teachers and students at the schools they visited.
The TEA program not only allowed foreign teachers to learn from how US teachers worked, but it also allows students to discover new information about the foreign countries. Each TEA student not only observed classes, but they also conducted a lesson about their home country. Even though it may have been nerve-wracking to present in front of 25-30 high schoolers for 83 minutes, the teachers were still able to “[highlight] some of the strengths, some of the weaknesses, and the best part….was that students had many more questions than I was expecting,” Doucet said.
The TEA participants were in the US for six weeks in total and left on March 13th. Even though their time here has come to an end, the TEA program has helped connect teachers from foreign countries with AHS, and hopefully their time here resulted in a new perspective for both students and teachers alike.
By Kinsey Ogden