The Australia-China Digital BRIDGE program, supported by the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations and implemented by the Asia Education Foundation, aims to connect teachers from both countries and to provide them with professional development opportunities.
This fully virtual program has successfully brought together a significant number of educators from schools in Australia and schools in China.
One of the participants, Belinda Elliot, Head of Teaching and Learning at Orange Christian School in NSW, shared her thoughts on the program.
Belinda expressed her appreciation for “having a deeper understanding of our partner schools' context and situation” which changed her perspective of “how schooling works from a different perspective. It’s really opened my eyes.” The program has allowed Belinda to reflect on what is, and is not, working at her school in terms of supporting students’ health and well-being, and to consider how teachers can develop and improve.
Belinda's experience with the Australia-China Digital BRIDGE program is just one of many stories of the positive impact of the program. The program has been successful in connecting educators from two different countries, allowing them to learn from each other's experiences and cultures. As a result, teachers have gained new knowledge and insights that can be applied in their teaching practice, ultimately benefiting their students.
The program has also enabled participants to build relationships and collaborate. The school partnerships and student learning initiatives that have been developed between Australian and Chinese schools provide opportunities for students to learn and grow together, building their intercultural understanding and global competencies.
Belinda highly recommends the program to other teachers and supports the virtual exchange format. “Even though it's a time commitment, it's a real opportunity to develop a felt need that I think all teachers have in this day and age.”
Another teacher who reflects on his positive experience with the program is Simon Huang, a teacher from Newmark Primary School in Victoria.
"I really enjoyed the conversations with the Chinese counterparts, finding out what they teach and how their work process is and their school weekly routine. […] I appreciate more about how much work they do in China and [this helps me to] reflect on my role and my school.”
The program's success lies in its ability to foster mutually beneficial collaboration and learning between teachers from different countries. Simon encourages other teachers to engage in the program:
“I recommend the program to any teacher that is passionate about intercultural understanding and wants to build a sister school partnership to join. [I have] developed professional networks in China and hope in the future we can have a formal sister school and we can have children travelling to China and visiting schools there."
The Australia-China Digital BRIDGE program is an innovative initiative that contributes to building a global community of educators dedicated to improving the health, wellbeing, learning experiences, and outcomes of their students.