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Sara Norberg: Being a Facilitator of Students’ Learning

May, 2018
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A mum of five and a teacher of many, Sara Norberg is full of passion when talking about kids and their learning.

Moving from the US to Beijing in 2012, Norberg has been teaching at Springboard International School of Beijing (SIBS) for over five years. She started as a Kindergarten teacher, and is now a Grade 1 teacher, focusing on four subjects: English language, English math, English science and English social studies.

sara-norberg-sibs-teacher6She believes teachers are facilitators of the learning that’s happening, “We know the kind of stuff we want the students to learn at the end of the year, so, especially within the Grade 1 team, we work together to have projects, do work sheets, read books…that will help them learn that stuff, and facilitate the learning.”

“We come up with ideas that we can facilitate the kids’ learning of different things, and it is a lot less of me standing in front and telling them what to do and what to repeat,” she continues.

Her first rule of teaching is that every child is unique and special, and such a mindset infiltrates everything that she does as a teacher, “It affects the lessons I prepare, the resources I make or buy, and the ways I choose to manage the classroom and behavior.”

As language learning is fundamental to the development of younger children, Norberg always gets asked by eager parents how their kids can learn English quickly. Her answer emphasizes exposure to the language. “The more they hear, the better. They’ve just got to listen and practice. If they get half an hour of TV every day, make it English. If they are reading, have them read English books.”

That’s exactly what she asked her kids to do, except in their case it was Chinese that they were learning. “All of my children are fluent in both English and Chinese. They can easily serve as a translator for me when my basic Chinese can’t get the job done,” says the proud mom. Currently four of her kids are studying at SIBS in Grade 4, 3, 1 and K1, with the fifth, now 18 months, to join them when the time comes.

Making sure their kids don’t miss the opportunity to learn to speak, read and write Chinese and learn all that they could about China and Chinese culture was why the Norberg couple decided to choose SIBS for the kids’ schooling after the family moved to Beijing due to Mr. Norberg’s change of work.

“We have not regretted that decision and we are grateful to be a part of the SIBS family. Five-and-a-half years later, we still feel welcomed, we are thankful for all of our children’s teachers and we know that SIBS has been one of the best decisions we have made here in China,” says Norberg.

She argues that at such a bilingual school as SIBS, the blending of Chinese and Western cultures helps to foster global citizens. “The students are coming from one perspective, and they are learning a second. Not only the language, but how things work.” And if the children are able to honor both cultures and figure out how to take the best of both, they can easily adapt to a third one, because the world is becoming smaller and smaller and they may well end up in places with a variety of other cultures.

Being a working mum, Norberg finds it challenging to keep the balance of work and home. But she sets herself a few rules and has the discipline to stick with it, “I do all of my work during school hours, even if it means staying a bit later a few days a month. By following this rule, I don’t have work things to distract me at home while I am with my family.”

And once a week, usually on weekends, the Norbergs will do something as a family, be it as simple as a movie night or running stairs and playing at the local park, or an outing to a local venue or restaurant. The point is, as Norberg puts it, “that we are intentional about doing it.”




By Qin Chuan, LittleStar Magazine


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