In the seven years that I've been with EF, the number of centres and English schools in China has grown at an astounding rate. One of the main factors behind this growth is the ability to recognise and enthusiastically implement changes. This is due in no small part to equally quick changes in technology, as well as the need to introduce new courses to match students' study requirements. EF recognises that change is not just desirable, but vital for continual growth. It's safe to say that we have really been embracing new technology and modern classrooms in recent years.
When I first arrived at EF at the end of 2009, everything- my school's appearance, the courses and ways of doing things were very different. The classrooms had small whiteboards and regular computer monitors built into the wall. When it was time to watch a movie or a PPT, students would race their chairs to the front of the room so they wouldn't have to crane their necks from the back row to see the screen. Progress reports were done entirely by hand, and we relied completely on physical flashcards for High Flyer lessons, which took up a lot of office space. At the time I joined, we were completing the rollover from the Playway series to Small Stars and were still teaching the old, old Trailblazer series (the one before Ros, Nyomi and the aliens, if you don't know who they are, you will do soon).
Of course, there have been a lot of changes over the years. Whiteboards were replaced with IWBs (interactive whiteboards) connected by computers and have now been replaced by touch-screen TVs with wireless keyboards in some centres. Progress reports are done online, and the flashcards for the High Flyer series are now entirely in digital form. Small Stars 2.0 is an improvement over the previous Small Stars series, and we're now getting ready to roll over into Trailblazers 3.0. Our centre has been extensively renovated twice, making the old classrooms with the bright orange walls and grey carpets a distant memory.
That's a lot of change in such a short time, and if it's proven one thing, it's that it can be unsettling and inconvenient for a time but will always work out for the better. A case in point was the latest renovation on my centre that was carried out between July and October this year. The centre had to be closed, and we were constantly running between two centres to teach our classes. We have close to 30 teachers in GZ1 and space was so tight in one of the other centres, we had some classes in their kitchen due to lack of available classrooms. However, It was worth it in the end. The new centre is much brighter; the office is ten times more comfortable andspacious, and morale has improved significantly.
The old saying that ‘the only constant is change' is very true. True, it can be a little difficult at first to get used to teaching new courses and mastering new technology. However, I know that as the students enjoy using the iPads in the classroom, enjoy the almost cinematic experience of watching High Flyer videos in class and lounge on the mini sofas while reading books from the new library, they probably couldn't imagine having it any other way.