Erin Bean’s Unique Opportunity: Teachers Teaching Teachers

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

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

PC-Fairfield Diversity in Education Program Overview

Posted by: on October 2, 2015   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized


The PC-Fairfield Diversity in Education program begins its fourth year this fall.   All professors and staff involved in the program are excited to have another cohort of students coming to learn about different education practices and build their skills as culturally and linguistically responsive educators.

Additionally, this week information sessions for the Fall of ’16 cohort were held.  If you were unable to attend on Wednesday, see Dr. Skawinski, Elementary Special Education chair or Allie Agahti, Assistant Dean of International Studies as soon as possible.  Sophomores must submit intent to study abroad forms to the education office before fall registration.

The objective of this post is to outline the details of the education component of the study abroad experience.  Each of the components of the program continues to evolve as we build on the experience of previous cohorts.

Diversity in Education Course (2 credits)

The Diversity in Education seminar provides a framework for guided intercultural reflection. Through readings, course discussions, video logs and written journals, students investigate issues of culture, language and education with an Italian educator.

Language and Literacy Course (3 credits)

This course is designed to provide knowledge and skills needed to teach literacy (reading and writing) and social studies in grades 3-6.  Since the practicum experience will be taking place in English as a foreign language classes in Italian elementary schools this course has an emphasis on second language acquisition and its role in literacy development. This course builds on the knowledge gained in teaching literacy in K-2 classrooms (EDU 231) and knowledge of language development (EDU 125).  This course replaces EDU 331 in the ESE course sequence at PC.

EFL and Literacy Teaching Practicum (1 credit)

Field Experience aligned with both the Language and Literacy and the Diversity in Education courses.

  • 40 hour practicum (4 hours for 10 weeks)
    • 1 hour teaching EFL class
    • 1 hour assisting partner teach EFL class
    • 2 hours observing & assisting cooperating teacher

You will be formally observed two times.  The Providence College faculty member will hold regular office hours to support your lesson development and provide feedback on your lessons. Fairfield Florence staff will provide guidance on travel and reimburse bus/train transportation to the school.

Education Field Trips

In partnership with University of Florence Education department, students and faculty involved with the PC Fairfield education program will have several opportunities to collaborate on lesson studies and visit unique Tuscan schools.

Final Thoughts

It is important to note that the experiences in Florence, while aligned with the PC Elementary Special Education program in Providence, are not the same.  Building global competence and culturally and linguistically responsive teaching takes time, multiple intercultural opportunities and guided reflection.  The schools and educational practices in Tuscany reflect Italian culture and perspective; some is the same, but others are unique.  The course work and hours in the field provide students with the time to experience these differences and reflect on what best practices means globally.   Through each of these different learning opportunities we strive to build global competence.   Global competence includes not only building knowledge of other cultures, but also the skills involved in understanding multiple perspectives, intercultural communication and taking action to support both the local and global communities.

An outside of the classroom glimpse of Professor Hayes’ weekend in Florence. 

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  The PC-Fairfield Diversity in Education program begins its fourth year this fall.   All professors and staff involved in the... MORE

The First Italian Explorations in Fall 2015

Posted by: on September 8, 2015   |Comments (0)|Travel


Year Four of the PC elementary/special education  study abroad program is off to a great start.

During orientation week, we’ve discovered the old underground city of Perugia and its more modern upper city, along with the wonderful chocolate for which Perugia is world famous.  In Assisi we visited the crypt of St. Francis and saw his life portrayed in frescoes from the late 13th century.


In Firenza, we’ve learned how to buy fruit and vegetables at the local market, where you weigh and price things and print out the final price tag before getting into the check out line. We’ve discovered that the best gelatto is found at small gelattorias, a bit off the main pedestrian paths.  Future posts will surely highlight our favorites. And, yes, we found our way to most of our first classes on time.

Looking forward to a special semester of teaching, learning and new challenges.  Check back weekly as the PC education students share their experiences in the classroom and traveling around Italy and beyond.

By Faculty Member In-Residence: Mrs. Kathleen Hayes

Year Four of the PC elementary/special education  study abroad program is off to a great start. During orientation week, we’ve... MORE

Preparing to Come Home

Posted by: on December 11, 2014   |Comment (1)|Florence

With five days left in our study abroad experience, “bittersweet” is truly the only word I can use to fully encapsulate the emotions we are all feeling. Florence has been my home away from home for three and a half long months and its hard to know exactly what I’m “supposed” to feel leaving it behind. When moving in, I never imagine that 111 days would go by as fast as they did. Although thoughts of American flags and seeing my family are hard to keep out of my mind, enjoying my final days in Florence hasn’t been too tough!

The last few days have been filled with excitement around the holiday season here in Florence.  The streets are lined with Christmas lights and festive holiday décor. Tonight was the annual tree lighting at the Duomo. It was an amazing gathering for the Florentine people to celebrate the Immaculate Conception, a national Holiday here in Italy. While waiting for the tree to light, I took a second to really appreciate Florence- a city that for four months has let me truly embrace in their culture and celebrate their traditions.

Although the holiday ambiance has been unavoidable, I am still trying to stay focused during my last week at Fairfield and FUA. With three finals and one lesson keeping me from Boston, I can almost taste the Dunkin Donuts coffee! As we’ve been finishing our last classes, one assignment that I know all of the education girls really enjoyed doing was our EDU Diversity journal, “10 Golden Rules” for the girls coming abroad next semester. It was such a bizarre feeling giving advice on something like studying abroad. So much of what you learn here is through experience and I feel it was two days ago when I was hearing advice from last year’s study abroad students. We all were excited to share our own perspectives on what we thought the most important rules to follow were.  The ideas ranged from “budget your money” to “travel anywhere and everywhere.”

As excited as we are all to be getting home to America, one of the hardest parts about leaving will definitely be leaving our classrooms. Each week I enter the class I am overwhelmed by the excitement and love that the students have for our time together. The Italian students and teachers have truly been a pleasure to work with and taught me so much about myself as a teacher and a person. I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to have worked with such a great class. Although it was so much different from anything I’ve ever done, the reward of listening to them speak a sentence in English because of what I had taught them was one of the best feelings I’ve had in the classroom! I can speak for all seventeen of us when I say that we are going to miss being teachers here.

Florence has been the best home I could have asked for. The character of the city is incomparable and its authentic Italian roots are hard not to fall in love with. The next five days will be filled with “lasts”—last pictures, last gelatos, and last classes, but the memories and experiences I will be taking home with me are truly unforgettable.





–Kristin Wheeler

With five days left in our study abroad experience, “bittersweet” is truly the only word I can use to fully... MORE