By Han Xiong Educational Psychologist
Han Xiong, one of our educational psychologists, has been providing services at Taihu international school (TIS) in Wuxi since the start of the academic year. TIS contacted us to access our unique experts in order to improve their support for students who would thrive at TIS with just some additional help.
My experience working with Taihu International School in Wuxi has been extremely rewarding. I’m so happy to be able to support a school in an area without many resources, with the goal of training their staff and working with them to develop better support systems for their students.
I’ve been going twice a month for about seven months to offer trainings on behavior therapy for teachers and shadow teachers, as well as pull-out one-on-one therapy sessions with children. As we’ve developed a relationship, I’ve been conducting teacher phone consultations twice a month as well. My trainings are mostly about how to reduce problem behaviors while reinforcing appropriate ones, as well as how to structure coursework and arrange classrooms to suit the needs and level of all students. My therapy sessions are focused on social skills, group activity participation, and emotional regulation.
I think my training for teachers has functioned more like a guideline. The teachers understand the difficulties of children who need additional support, and through our work they have developed more tools and knowledge for how to support these students. Over time, the school has become more and more supportive and accepting of challenging behaviors and difficulties. This is not only as a result of my work, but also because of a lot of people’s effort and patience (from shadow teachers to the principal).
It’s been a process of mutual learning and growth, as we try to understand each other’s perspective. While I bring a professional, therapeutic and developmental point of view, the school discusses their practical difficulties (such as unpredictable changes in a classroom with more than 10 children), and we try to find realistic solutions together. I try to meet with the teachers of the children I work with every time I go there, even if we don’t have a training scheduled. The shadow teachers usually observe my sessions. They are always more than willing to deepen their understanding of their students’ possible needs with me.
I’ve often been moved by how the teachers and the school are really trying their best to provide the best support they can. For example, some class structures have been made clearer, so the students can understand and follow them better. Teacher are doing this for the children who need extra support, but believe that it will benefit everyone.
This experience has shown me how people can understand the challenges of working long distance and work together, trust each other, be patient with each other, to overcome them. Trust-building is a very important part of the process. When a situation arises in which the staff requires support to formulate a response, I have learned to stay calm, try to give the best possible suggestions and trust that they will know how to implement them because they in turn trust my expertise and recommendations. I have really enjoyed going there. They are really good teachers, who really try to offer the best to students, with limited resources.
This experience has brought us together; we have become a team during this process. For the students I’m working with, I think it is a very valuable experience. Their endurance to changes and challenges has greatly improved, and they have made very good friends in school, which was one of our explicit goals, and is priceless. We have also promoted integration, and other children have grown to be more accepting and even helpful. If the opportunity arose, I would love to develop such relationships with similar places for sure.