Caitlin in Florence

Caitlin in Florence

Posted by: on December 9, 2016   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

Caitlin Whitaker

ESE Study Abroad Blog

Week of December 4


I can’t believe we are in the single digit countdown to coming home! This has been such an incredible experience it’s hard to believe that we have less than 10 days left. One of the best parts of this experiences has been practicum. Teaching in an italian classroom has been incredible and nothing like what I expected. For starters, I NEVER expected to teach with my hands this much!! And I never expected to teach in a room with no technology. 2 chalboards. That was all I had.  

I don’t know what I was expecting going into this experience. It never really hit me until I got into the classroom that I was teaching English to Italian students. When I walked into the room for the first day the students were so excited and all yelled “good morning” at me. That is why it did not hit me until after I sat down to observe and they all started yelling in Italian. I was attempting to make out the few Italian words I knew, like how to say pizza, pasta and thank you….but none of the students were using those. It was very overwhelming…but I was also excited.

My favorite lesson of this semester was by far the last lesson I taught, my Christmas lesson. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Christmas, so it is obvious that this is by far my favorite subject to teach. Throughout the semester I always made it a point to integrate US cultures and traditions into my lessons whenever possible. I liked to show the students how things are different at home and give them as accurate of a picture of America as possible. When I taught the Christmas lesson we compared Christmas in Italy to Christmas in America and found many similarities and a few differences. For example, in Italy there are no stockings hung by the fireplace. When I was explaining it to the students they thought it was the coolest thing ever but did not understand how Santa could fit anything in a pair of tights!! During the lesson the students were decorating paper ornaments and hanging them up on the paper tree I placed at the front of the room. It was an indescribable feeling to be looking around the room at my little Italian 6th graders as they colored ornaments, writing English phrases on them and randomly bursting into song, with those songs being various American Christmas Carols. I saw the students writing things on their ornaments that I taught them weeks ago. It was such an incredible feeling to see that the students were actually learning and understanding what I was teaching them.

So now as practicum has come to a close, all the weekend trips have ended, and we are in the final single digit countdown, I am realizing more and more how grateful I am for this experience. It has changed me in ways I cannot describe, but I am so thankful for. Florence is a beautiful place to be able to call home for 4 months, but I think I am ready to be back in Friartown!!


Caitlin Whitaker ESE Study Abroad Blog Week of December 4   I can’t believe we are in the single digit... MORE

Orientation at a new practicum school -Florence style: Jenn Mega

Posted by: on October 6, 2015   |Comments (0)|Florence

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Ciao! My name is Jenn Mega and I am spending the semester in Florence, Italy through the Providence College Elementary/Special Education department. I have been here in Italy since August 31st and it already has been such an amazing experience. For anyone (PC EDU or not) questioning whether they should go abroad or not… GO! It is an unforgettable experience that you will never ever regret doing. Florence is a great city that has so much history to explore, but also modern areas as well. It is home to many American students each semester and therefore is a great place to immerse yourself in Italian culture, but also make friends with other American students from different schools! It is easy to get wrapped up in the city center because there is always something new to see or do, but I also have really enjoyed wandering to the other side of the river (the Arno river is the main river that runs right through the heart of Florence) where many locals are. In addition, my practicum school is about a twenty-minute bus ride on the other side of the river. In this post, I will mostly share my practicum experiences because last week was our first week out at the schools!

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For this semester, I was assigned to a 5th grade classroom. In Italy, they refer to grades as classes, so I was actually assigned to “fifth class”. On my first day, we rode to the school and were walked around the entire school by a supervisor. Then, I met my cooperating teacher who doesn’t speak fluent English, but spoke well enough to communicate with me. The day was supposed to be strictly observation, but she handed me a piece of chalk (yes, chalkboards and no fancy smartboards!) and had me jump into the English numbers lesson with her. It was frightening, but ended up going really well and being really fun. The students are so eager to learn because they view you as a celebrity because they are in awe that you’re from America. It makes them really want to try to practice their English which is really awesome and will be helpful once I start teaching my own lessons! The classrooms are very similar to American classrooms with posters on the wall and student work around the room. The biggest difference I have noticed is classroom management techniques – the Italian schools don’t have many. There are no classroom rules or procedures listed in my 5th grade room and the teachers do not seem to care that students chat while they are teaching a lesson. This will be something I have to work through as I teach the students because I am a big fan of classroom management (thanks Dr. Ryan!) and find it overwhelming when there is a lack of structure in the classroom. Overall, the student’s eagerness to practice their English so they can communicate with me will outweigh the relaxed classroom environment and I think this semester is going to be very memorable with these students.

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I will reiterate once more that for anyone on the fence about going abroad… DO IT. Especially for you education majors reading this, teaching these students will be like nothing experienced in America and it will hopefully positively affect the way you feel about being a teacher (like it already has for me). Florence is an amazing city with so much to offer and coming here for one semester and getting to teach children will truly be something you never regret or forget about. I am so grateful to have such an awesome department to return to at PC that was able to provide me this experience – so take advantage of it!

Ciao! My name is Jenn Mega and I am spending the semester in Florence, Italy through the Providence College Elementary/Special... MORE