Claire King’s Last Two Weeks: Final Experiences

Claire King’s Last Two Weeks: Final Experiences

Posted by: on December 3, 2015   |Comments (4)|Travel

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Hi everyone back in Providence! It is such an awesome opportunity to be able to write a little blog entry that may help some of you fellow EDU students make the decision to come explore Florence. It is a crazy feeling that two weeks from today, I will be on a plane traveling back to my real home. Just like it was hard saying goodbye to my home back in the United States, I feel like it is going to be just as hard to leave Florence. It’s the time that I have to start saying goodbye to a place that will always have a special part of my heart. Florence has become my home. When traveling home from weekends away in other countries or just walking home from classes throughout the week, I notice myself calling my apartment home. I have become so comfortable here in the past three months that it has similar feelings as when I am at my real home. Yes, you will miss your families, but I mean there’s nothing a good FaceTiming session with your loved ones can’t fix. Last week on Thanksgiving, I FaceTimed my whole family (all 47 of them) for about an hour, being passed down the line to talk to each of them. And when you do feel like you’re really missing your family, you will find that the women/men from the PC Elementary and Special Education Program become your family here.

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Florence symbol at Piazza Michelangelo.

With the thought of these next two weeks being my last in my Study Abroad experience, I am going to focus on not thinking about the future, but to live in the moment for these next two weeks. Friends and I have already started planning days around our class schedules for our last specific experiences in Florence. Planning our last Gusta Pizza, our last walk to Piazza Michelangelo, last De Neri Gelato, and even our last practicum experiences here in Florence. It will be hard to say goodbye, but I know I will always find my way back to this beautiful city. See you in two weeks America!

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Hi everyone back in Providence! It is such an awesome opportunity to be able to write a little blog entry that... MORE

Erin Bean’s Unique Opportunity: Teachers Teaching Teachers

Posted by: on November 19, 2015   |Comment (1)|Florence


On Monday, November 16th, Dr. Hauerwas extended an invitation to me and my friend Brooke, also studying in Florence through the PC ESE program, to attend an English teaching class at the University of Florence. Initially, I thought we would be sitting off to the side of the class observing the English teacher teach the Italian elementary education students. However, that was not what the  Italian professor had in mind.

Dr. Guerin asked us to discuss the different elements of our lesson plan structure to the class. Normally, that would not be a problem. However, this was a class of 300 Italian students whom I did not know if they would be able to understand us at all. Brooke and I stood in front of the class and went section by section through our lesson plan format, describing the main components as well as examples of information you would find in each section of the lessons we both brought along. The class seemed very interested in what we had to say.


The English teacher explained to Brooke and I that the structure of the Italian University has them learning the theories discussed in education for the first two years. It is not until the third year they begin their internship and start observing students in a school setting. That struck me as very interesting because from the start the program PC offers requires some amount of interaction with school-aged kids, whether in the classroom or in an after school program, starting freshman year. Because the group of students we were presenting to was a group of third year students, they had a lot of questions about lesson plans in general. It was really nice to be able to share and compare teacher education programs internationally.

Following our presentation, groups of Italian students came up to present their final project topics to the professor and class. The final project required the students to incorporate theories they had learned in class to a lesson. The lesson utilized a piece of literature and five concepts they were going to cover when teaching English to the first year group of students in an Italian primary school. The project asked for an overview of the curriculum for the year, month to month, week to week, and day to day if the group chose to split up the responsibilities required of the project in that manner. Since the Italian students have not been asked to write lesson plans at this time, it is more informal. They explained daily procedures as well as specific activities that they were planning to implement when teaching the youngest group English.


I’d be interested to read some of the final projects and see if the structure of the Italian teacher education program prepares them to complete this project with realistic assumptions and expectations of their students. Although the theory is necessary to learn, as you are becoming a teacher, the experience you gain from working with students directly is not something you can learn from a textbook. That’s my personal opinion. Overall being involved in this experience is truly a representation of the unique experience I have had studying abroad compared to being in the US.

On Monday, November 16th, Dr. Hauerwas extended an invitation to me and my friend Brooke, also studying in Florence through... MORE

Some thoughts from Dr. Hauerwas in Firenze

Posted by: on November 17, 2015   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

November, 2015

For the past few weeks I have been in Firenze as part of my sabbatical.   I have split my time between the University of Florence where I am a Visiting International Scholar and the Florence schools observing and interviewing the Italian teachers involved in the PC Diversity in Education program.



Erin B. and Brooke M. presenting with the University of Florence teacher education students
English Language Teaching Workshop

Dr. Hauerwas, Providence College and Dr. Guerin, University of Florence

With this blog I want to share some of the cross-cultural observations I have made as I collaborated with University of Florence faculty, teacher education and Ph.D. students, as well as Italian teachers in the practicum schools.  The comments are in no particular order.

  • Teacher education for primary teachers is relatively new in Italy and at the University of Florence.  20 years ago teachers only needed a high school degree to teach primary school.
  • The University of Florence’s primary teacher education program includes theoretical coursework and internship.  The coursework is aligned to a national teacher education curriculum. Preservice teachers do not get as many opportunities to practice teaching in primary classrooms. There are no teacher licensure exams.
  • Some Providence College and University of Florence teacher education students were able to meet and discuss differences in teacher training and primary school.  Topics included: teacher schedules, process of getting a job, differences in pedagogy used in the classroom, inclusion and special education, approaches to teaching English, use of books in the classroom, exams as part of college course-work, parents, teaching profession and respect for teachers.
  • The Italian cooperating teachers and primary students are eager to have American teachers in their classrooms each week.   The PC students are greeted warmly with smiles, giggles and a few hugs from the children! The teachers want to help the PC students use their knowledge of the English language and American culture, geography and history to teach the primary students.
  • Everyone works together to communicate effectively – using gestures, pictures, translation of key words/phrases, and songs to support the students and teachers use of English in the classroom.
  • We all wished we were proficient in English and Italian!  And were concerned that we are not.   Yet we all continue to learn from each other about culture and education.
  • Some classrooms have smartboards and regular access to the Internet.  Classrooms generally  have only one small chalkboard  [4′ x 6′].  The students have many workbooks and elaborate pencil cases with markers and pencils.
  • This fall each of the schools are in the city of Florence. PC students take busses or trains to their schools.   Travel times vary from 15 to 30 minutes.  Tickets will be occasionally checked — there is a fine you must pay if you do not have a ticket or it isn’t validated.


Lauren, Samantha, and Alyssa waiting for the 23 Bus to go to practicum

  • Some of the Italian cooperating teachers have been with the Diversity in Education program for three years; others are new this year.  They see the benefits of having an American teacher intern for their students.  The students are motivated to use their English to communicate and learn about their teacher.  The PC students provide a native English model; the students are often the first American English speaker they have interacted with.
  • Migrant students and changing demographics of the schools were topics that the University of Florence doctoral students wanted to discuss as I shared my research on the impact of international practicums on preservice teacher development.   They wondered if what we have learned in America about diversity could help the Italian educators better meet the needs of new immigrant students.
  • The role of culture in teaching as well teacher identity were topics that challenged the faculty and doctoral students as we considered global education practices and their universality.  During this visit I heard more Italian educators discussing both their Italian identity as well as their European identity.
  • It is important to connect practice with theory.  Using evidence, data from experience, to lead to greater understanding of theory and effective practices.  As John Dewey said in Experience and Education:

“The scientific method is the only authentic means at our command for getting at the significance of our everyday experiences of the world in which we live…scientific method provides a working pattern of the way in which and conditions under which experiences are used to lead ever onward and outward.”

or said more simply “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”

  • The Diversity in Education program is providing the Providence College education students with everyday experiences in the world which enable them to connect theories about teaching language with effective culturally relevant practices.



The door to Fairfield University, Florence on Corso dei Tintori 7.



Mariella heading into her school for practicum teaching English as a Foreign Language.



The students have 45 minutes for a hot lunch; served family-style in the primary schools in Italy. 



Pope Francis visits Florence on November 10th.  Many students were able to attend mass at the Stadium.  We all got glimpses of the Pope Mobile as he travelled around Florence.

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Professor Hauerwas and Professor Hayes at Fattoria di Maiano for the olive harvest.

olives         oliveoil 

The Nuovo Olio 2015


The David, November 14, 2015.
Firenze sharing one of its symbols of strength with the people of Paris.


Sunset on the Arno as I walked home from the University….the end of another day in Firenze!

November, 2015 For the past few weeks I have been in Firenze as part of my sabbatical.   I have... MORE

Rachael Levesque: Abroad Nostalgia has Officially Commenced

Posted by: on November 12, 2015   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized


Hello fellow edu majors! As the days begin to get darker a little bit earlier, and the warm Florence air has been replaced with a crisp, autumn breeze, it seems that we are in the home stretch of returning home back to the states, which is definitely a bitter sweet feeling.  I think this point in the semester is such a nostalgic time, as you look back at all the places you’ve been and the things you’ve seen, and realize you only have a limited time to cross any final things off your bucket list before going home.  Just yesterday my friends and I had the once in a lifetime experience of seeing the Pope! He literally drove right by my apartment, in his Pope-mobile, nonetheless. Another crazy experience which happened to my friend and fellow edu major, Meaghan Creamer, was finding her picture on the cover of an Italian newspaper, as she completed a local half marathon!

As I reflect back on so many of the things I have done throughout my study abroad experience, such as drinking a beer at Oktoberfest, having a croissant in France, riding a gondola in Venice, sailing the Mediterranean with my family for Fall Break, amongst so many other clichés, you come to realize how very few people can say they’ve also seen and done these things.

As someone who was a bit apprehensive about leaving home, and my small, quaint Connecticut hometown, I can firmly say that going abroad was the right decision.  With the great friendships you make, and the indescribable memories you will take away from this experience, missing home (and Dunkin Donuts ice coffee) seems like such a small price to pay.

Corny Study Abroad Tip: Take every chance, drop every fear!

Here are some of the highlights from my experience thus far:


Savona, Italy (View from the cruise ship)


My friend and I, on a gondola in Venice.


The Pope driving by my apartment!


Providence College’s own Meaghan Creamer on the front of the Ravenna Italian newspaper after completing a local half marathon!

Hello fellow edu majors! As the days begin to get darker a little bit earlier, and the warm Florence air... MORE

Brooke McPherson: Being a Homebody 5,000+ miles from Home

Posted by: on November 6, 2015   |Comments (0)|Travel

Hello Everyone! I am writing this blog post as I return home (Florence) from Copenhagen, Denmark … My third (of 8) countries that I will be visiting here while I am abroad. Let me begin by saying that I am a homebody, I come from an extremely close family and I also have a twin sister, who is back home in the United States. So for the past 19.5 years of my life I have always said no to “Studying Abroad.” And I thank God every day that I (eventually) decided to apply to the study abroad program.

I don’t think I have ever once been homesick here in Florence. Sure I have had those times where I wish I could experience these things with my family, but its never put a damper on any of my experiences. The best thing about the Providence College Education Study abroad program is that you’re surrounded all the time with education majors from Providence. These girls (and guys) become your family, in your home away from home. You’ll find yourself running to class with them … gelato in hand, taking 12 hour bus rides just to say you’ve been to Croatia, or devouring two entire pizzas without a second thought (Yes you’ll learn to order your own pizza here … and eat it all within minutes too.)

Today, traveling home from Copenhagen, in the Zurich, Switzerland airport, a barista from Starbucks asked me where I was traveling. I explained to her that I would be going back to Italy because I am studying abroad there. As she handed me my Starbucks she said ‘Have a safe flight home … Does Italy feel like home?” And without even a thought I quickly answered, “Yes, it really does.” So if you have the opportunity to study abroad … DO IT!

Study Abroad Tip: Go beyond your comfort zone. You never know what you are capable of unless you try!

Here are pictures in Italy and Copenhagen with PC Edu Majors!



The picture above was taken in Copenhagen at a place called Cristiania also know as Freetown Cristiania. We learned a lot about the place because it’s separate from the European Union and functions as it’s own community. It was really interesting to see the buildings and artwork because their entire community is build by hand.



The picture above is in Siena in the middle of the Piazza del Campo where the famous horse races are held.

Hello Everyone! I am writing this blog post as I return home (Florence) from Copenhagen, Denmark … My third (of... MORE