In early August 2017, Li Chunlin arrived at Beijing Experimental Middle School in Lhasa, capital city of southwest China's Tibet, filled with yearning, determination, and unsure nervousness, thus beginning her two-year post as part of aid-Tibet.
Bringing mind maps into the classroom to help students learn divergent thinking
Li Chunlin served as mathematics teacher for two 10th grade classes in the school. After the first week, she and her students engaged a special kind of communication, which she hoped would be able to further her understanding to students. Li Chunlin asked the students to express their relationship with mathematics and their mathematics teacher on paper in writing or drawing. At the end of the semester, she once again asked them to do this. After a full semester of getting to know each other, the students had a lot to say on their papers and added many of their own ideas.
"In mathematics, I have found that many children are very firm in their way of thinking. For example, if they are doing a math problem, but the form is changed slightly, they won't be able to do it. So, I thought of using mind maps to help them broaden their way of thinking about math problems. The students really like this vivid teaching method," said Li Chunlin.
"I will never give up on you"
Kelsang is a typical "problem student" at the school. She likes to skip class and sometimes does not return to the dormitory in the evening. After several communication failures, the homeroom teacher Mr. Zhang became very worried, but then thought of Li Chunlin.
After discussing with Mr. Zhang, Li Chunlin was surprised. From her impression, Kelsang smiled a lot and was very polite. What was really going on? Li Chunlin could not understand it.
Li Chunlin volunteered to meet Kelsang several times to have a heart-to-heart chat, and Kelsang eventually decided to open up to Ms. Li. Because of problems during her childhood, Kelsang had always closed herself off to others, not wanting to discuss her anxieties and pain with people. But that day, Li Chunlin and Kelsang talked for a whole afternoon. Kelsang said that she often went to the riverside, often feeling like she had no will to live.
Opening up her heart finally brightened Kelsang's spirits. "I am very grateful to the teachers. I'm now studying very hard, and I'd like to get a good score to repay my teacher," she said.