Dr. Christopher Gareis' visit to China began in the city of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province and the location of Yunnan Normal University (YNU). The partnership between the School of Education and YNU was initiated three years ago by James Stronge, Heritage Professor of Education at William & Mary, and Yaling Sun, Professor of Education at Yunnan Normal University. Since then, faculty members from both universities have engaged in collaborative research and educational exchanges, including a recent visit to the School of Education by delegates from a consortium of universities across Yunnan province.
While in Kunming, Gareis visited local elementary and high schools, where he observed instruction in classrooms, informally interviewed and provided feedback to teachers, and met with school administrators to discuss practices in curriculum, instruction, and assessment respective to the United States and to China. Particular areas of attention were content breadth of curriculum, targeted cognitive levels of instruction, and the use of formative assessment practices by teachers. Teachers and administrators in the schools were most interested in learning ways to promote their students' creative thinking, which is reflected in China's current educational policy to lessen the influence of the country's college entrance exam system.
Gareis also met with members of the staff of the Office of International Relations for YNU with the purpose of exploring future opportunities for faculty and students. Additionally, he delivered two lectures to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as YNU faculty. He first presented on the School of Education's Clinical Faculty Program, which is an integral component of the SOE's teacher preparation programs and was commended in the NCATE accreditation review earlier this fall. China's teacher preparation programs tend to emphasize theory over field-based practice, but education faculty are interested in models such as William & Mary's that accentuate clinical practice. Gareis' second presentation was on the role of assessment in teaching, another topic of interest to educators in China as they attempt to de-emphasize the role of high-stakes entrance college entrance exams, teach a broader curriculum, and reach more of their students.
The second leg of Gareis' visit was to Beijing Normal University (BNU) in the country's capital city. The College of William and Mary is partnering with BNU as part of the College's new Confucius Institute (WMCI), which will be launched formally this February. The Confucius Institute is an interdisciplinary, multi-year, international initiative to promote the study of Chinese language and culture outside of China. The WMCI is overseen by Yanfang Tang, Professor of Chinese, and both Gareis and Ginnie McLaughlin, Dean of the SOE, collaborated in crafting the proposal for institute. The School of Education will play a significant role in several WMCI initiatives, including the teaching of Chinese language in area schools. Gareis' visit to BNU provided an opportunity to nurture this new partnership.
Gareis earned his B.A. at Washington and Lee University, '88, as a double major in English and East Asian Studies.