Shu Mei Elementary School
2016-2017 ETA: Danielle Berkowsky <Danielle.berkowsky @ gmail .com>
Location: Northeastern Jinsha Township (near Shamei)
Commute: Short – 3 km. By scooter, it takes about 7 minutes. You can bike in less than 15 minutes. There is also a 7:00 am bus that leaves from the Shamei station.
Resources: ShuMei provides you with a desk and computer, and you have access to everything in the office including teaching supplies, wifi, printing (color and & black and white), a laminator, and tons of crafting material. The school is usually fine with purchasing additional materials or ingredients for any projects or recipes. The English curriculum is provided for your co-teaching classes, and there are various references available for your solo classes. The classrooms all have smart boards, projectors, etc. and the school has many iPads you can use with the students. ShuMei is very active and you are welcome to borrow any sports equipment. This includes items for camping, biking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities. The culture is very open and relaxed so you can do just about anything you want with the resources at the school, be it cook pizza, make piñatas, or organize a school-wide art project.
Teaching: About 50% solo teaching and 50% co-teaching (8 co/7 solo), grades 3 to 6. This year, I had two co-teaching classes per grade, per week. These are textbook curriculum classes. I also had one solo class per grade per week, in which I created my own curriculum or finished something we didn’t have time for in the textbook class. Finally, I had morning classes 3 times a week (3rd grade, 4th & 5th grade combined, and 6th grade) that were more relaxed and meant for games, cooking, crafts, or culture lessons in English. The students are active, enthusiastic, and generally well-behaved.
ShuMei is a school that underscores the importance of learning by doing, and they are always open to ideas. Don’t be surprised if your classes are canceled for a school-wide 3K run, a cookie making class with local culinary students, a bike ride, or a volunteer trip to help the elderly in nearby villages. Go outside, play music, cook, and have fun!
Average Class Size: Small. The largest class is 13 students. The smallest has 8. Since the classes are so small, you are able to develop a deeper relationship with the students and find their individual learning styles.
Co-teachers: 3 LETs: Victor, Sandy, and Violet. They are all great to work with in their own ways. They are very open to ideas and are willing to try new things, and also are extremely knowledgeable, experienced resources. They are used to the co-teaching system and will push you to establish your own teaching style and lesson plans.
Specialties: Shu Mei is pretty well-rounded, and the students are extremely active and musical. We have a choir as well as impressive cello, guitar, and piano programs. The students frequently go biking and hiking, and Friday afternoons are left open for outdoor activities. Some students have biked the entirety of the island.
ShuMei is one of the smallest schools on Kinmen in the beautiful Northeastern corner of the island. The students have a great work ethic and are respectful. You will get to know their families, their villages, and their lives through teaching and interacting with them in and out of the classroom. This is a place where adventure happens daily. It’s a place to always say “yes,” be it to biking across the island or taking an afternoon stroll to the beach.