Thursday, June 21, 2012

Seconda Classe A (Second Grade Class A)

{Warning: This is a long post. If you aren't very interested in education, it may be a little boring. Don't say I didn't warn you!}

The main point of this trip was my work in the school. I was placed in second grade and I absolutely loved my class. The kids were so sweet and were really excited I was there. There is no way you can be upset with a little child speaking Italian. It's just impossible.

welcome sign for the group at the front of the school

my welcome sign at my classroom

There were two teachers for my class: Cristina and Federica. The teachers would switch off teaching each day; one would teach in the morning and one would teach after lunch. I had 20 kids in my class, including two with special needs. One of them just had trouble remembering simple facts; the other had more of a behavior issue. Because of these students, we had an extra "teacher" in the class every day. Giovanna was there to help the students with their work and she would often pull them out of class to work with them individually.

All three teachers spoke a little bit of English. Giovanna was the best. When she was in the room, she would translate things for me if I didn't understand. If it was only Federica in the room, we would use sign language and attempt to communicate while laughing our heads off at how ridiculous we looked. Cristina did not speak to me very much. Whenever she would teach, I would just sit in the back of the room and journal.

As far as actual teaching, I did not do very much. It was a lot of observation to compare Italian and American schools. I taught the students "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" and helped them with basic English. The only big thing I really got to do was help with math. The students begin to learn English in elementary school so they were already learning numbers. There were many days when I would call out math problems in English and they would have to first translate the numbers, then solve the problems.

blurry...but a poster my teacher asked me to make
Italian schools are very different from American schools in the sense that there is not a lot of group work. The students stay in their desks all day. The teacher calls out problems or tells them to write certain sentences and they do it. It is similar to the image you probably have for a pioneer school from America's early days.

my classroom (the way it was when we left during the earthquake...details here)

Our schedule was mostly the same everyday. I was in the school from 8:30-12:30 each weekday. We worked from 8:30-10:30, then had a 30 minute break until 11. The kids could eat a snack, run around outside, and just get their energy out. They worked from 11-12:30 and then it was time for lunch. I ate at school the very first day, but went home every day after that.

our classroom door and the area where the students played during break

PE with one of my teachers (Federica)

Lunch at an Italian school is amazing. They have a three course meal each day complete with pasta, meat/vegetables, and dessert. It is absolutely incredible. The responsibilities of the students are a little different for each stage of schooling. In preschool, the students set the tables, serve the meals, and clean up the trash. In elementary school, the students are served by cafeteria workers, but they must clean up the mess. I assume it is the same in the upper levels, but I'm not positive because I never witnessed it. In middle and high school, most students go home for lunch or go somewhere in the city. Elementary students can also go home for lunch, but most stay at school.

lunchroom rules

our lunchroom
Each Thursday afternoon, our group got together for our "seminars." We would talk about things we were seeing in the classrooms and different teaching styles. I won't bore you with the details, but we had some great conversations. I honestly did not expect to get a lot out of it, but every week I came away with something new. It is such a great experience to teach or observe in another country and I hope I get the chance to do it again!

If you made it all the way through this, I'm sending you a big high five. A lot of this is for me to remember so I appreciate you reading through my thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. i love this... so interesting to hear the difference between school in america and other places.


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