We are moving beyond the beginning of our experience to the heart of our time here in Florence. Highlights from this week include: practicum, Octoberfest, Dr. Hauerwas’ Intercultural Horizon’s conference, discussing Bud, not Buddy in literature circles and candy apples.
Entering a new school for the first time can be overwhelming, but the PC ESE abroad students, did this and more this week. Each pair took the city bus or commuter rail to their practicum school in Florence to meet their cooperating English teacher and their upper primary age pupils. They were welcomed into the many classes they will be working with for the next ten weeks. What follows are some reflection excerpts from their first day; excited and engaged students learning about themselves and another culture in the intercultural context of elementary schools.
My first experience at the Italian school was amazing! Lauren and I are teaching at Santa Maria All’Antella in Antella, which is a small suburb located right outside Florence. The school is very small parochial school with one class per grade, except two for fifth grade. I will be teaching a fifth grade class which will be exciting because I have only taught first and second grades. My first impressions of teaching English as a foreign language is definitely that it will be harder than I expected. Although the students know more English than I thought they would it will be difficult to slow my pace down and make sure to use words and phrases they are familiar with. HF
I was nervous and excited today with “First Day of School Butterflies”, but as soon as I got into the classroom, I literally could not stop smiling. I love the enthusiasm of the class. Their smiles were so endearing, and made me feel like they were so excited just at our presence, giving me some confidence in place of nerves! KA
Entering the Italian primary school for the first time, I was not sure what to expect. I was extremely nervous that the students would not understand anything I was saying and I would struggle to translate into Italian. My worries were put at ease when we were introduced to the English teacher who began by apologizing that her English was not better. I realized that the language barrier was a struggle for all parties involved and therefore we could work around it together. I felt even more assured upon entering the classroom and being greeted by a chorus of both Buon Giorno and Hello. Although it may sound corny the combination of Italian and English together seemed like a positive and symbolic way to begin this experience. MB
The classroom that I will be teaching in this semester is a fourth grade classroom that consists of 26 students, 14 girls and 12 boys. Teaching English as a foreign language in an Italian primary school seems like it is going to be a little challenging at first. The students in the fourth grade class seem to know a decent amount of English, as much as it would take so that they could understand what I am saying and comprehend it. Also, they know enough to answer some questions. So, yes, this will be challenging because they do not know a lot of English, but it will be completely doable. AF
Throughout my time in the classroom I realized how exciting it is to be a part of this new challenge. Although I am expecting it to be difficult at points I am excited to embark on this knowing I have the support of the cooperating teacher and the students in this new endeavor. I hope to emerge with a better understanding of teaching to students who are ELL or EFL and to understand more about teaching students from other cultures. I hope the students can emerge with a better understand of the English language and culture ML
My initial feeling about this practicum is that it will confirm my idea that I want to teach in Europe after college. I think that this experience will be really positive, and I will learn a lot; about teaching and about myself too. While I am excited for this semester of teaching I am also anticipating a lot of frustration because of the language barrier and other unknown factors. I hope that by anticipating frustration and struggles I will be able deal with any obstacles as they come at me and not get overwhelmed. I think that this semester I will have more unanticipated surprises than I am used to from previous practicum classes. KR
Butterflies, gestures, smiles and looks of confusion marked the first day, but each and every PC student could not be more excited to go back to teach the Florentine children.
Travels: OctoberFest and Siena
PC students studying all over Europe come together to enjoy Octoberfest in Munich
In class this week we discussed reading comprehension instruction. We jigsawed six articles that addressed the pros and cons of literature circles and how to implement book discussion groups in the elementary classrooms. We used what we learned from the articles to hold our own discussions about Bud, Not Buddy, a well-written children’s coming of age story set in Michigan during the Great Depression. Reflecting on our own book discussion experience a spirit debate ensued regarding use of roles, on-line opportunities, assessment and opportunities for differentiated instruction to meet specific student’s needs.
And then came the Candy Apples! Thank you Mr. Hauerwas for making us a taste of New England in the Fall.