Hong Kong Adventist Academy organized its very first faculty retreat at the Royal Park Hotel from January 23 to 24, 2017. This kind of retreat is recommended in order to help teachers enhance their teaching skills as well as learn how to integrate faith and learning. The administration invited Dr. Richard Sabuin, education director of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division, Dr. Rita Green, professor at AIIAS, and her graduate student Ruth Patino to be the facilitators of the retreat.
A classroom environment was settled to simulate an ideal day in a Christian school, starting with morning devotion, which included background music, singing, and an inspiring message. The activities were oriented and designed to show the multiple strategies that can be used to lead an effective teaching process. Objective lessons were presented through practical illustrations that can be integrated in different learning areas. Dr. Green emphasized the effectiveness of establishing a Christ-centered perspective in the teaching/learning process. Literary references as well as practical exercises were exerted and strongly recommended by the presenter.
One of the most valuable strategies is dividing the class into small groups and then assigning tasks to each member. In this sense, the students feel included and encouraged to express their feelings and to share their opinions. By using this strategy, students will gain the confidence to participate freely in group discussions. Other teaching strategies, such as Either/Or, Continuum, Fold the Line, and Inside/Outside Circle, among others, are also valuable activities that promote critical thinking for subjective themes.
Transitions were made with refreshing snacks, fellowship time, and a touch of high cuisine gastronomy. A wonderful lunch buffet was provided each day, which exceeded the expectations of all. The audience was so absorbed in performing all the tasks that time passed by smoothly. The two days ended by answering the following questions: What went well, what could be improved, and what comments or questions do you have for improvement? This questioning period led us to the Feedback Strategy, which according to Dr. Green, is one of the most important tools to be used in a classroom.
It was definitely a very enriching experience. The venue and the program ran smoothly. Expressions of gratitude were shown to the organizers and facilitators for the amazing event.
Frank Tam, HKAA Principal