I cannot believe that I am already halfway done with my time here in Florence! I truly have fallen in love with the city and have already created so many memories that I know will stay will me for the rest of my life.
The main reason why I decided to study abroad in Italy was due to my desire to teach English in a foreign country. So far, teaching here has been a wonderful learning experience. I have already taught three lessons in a fourth grade classroom. I teach every Tuesday at Kassel school, which is a twenty-minute bus ride from the bus stop on my street. Although the most students in the classroom cannot speak much English, they are very eager to learn and are excited about me being there. The teacher in the classroom is very helpful with translating things to the class when necessary, and adjusting my lesson to better meet their needs.
For my first lesson I taught the phrases “there is” and “there are” and I incorporated illustrations and facts about New York City. Overall, I was very pleased with the amount of enthusiasm that the student’s displayed along with their eagerness to participate and answer each one of my questions. The students were especially eager to see the Pictures of New York City and learn more about the American culture. Therefore the majority of my lesson was very successful and beneficial for both the students and myself. However, throughout the lesson I did encounter difficulties when trying to explain directions in a clear and understandable way for both the teacher and the students.
My second lesson was based around the verb “to be” and the American Flag. This lesson was more difficult because the students were not as familiar with the verb “to be” as they were about the phrases that I presented during the previous lesson. This made it more challenging to manage my time during the lesson. I found it difficult to evenly distribute time to both major sections that the teacher in the classroom wanted me to address: the American flag, and the verb to be. However, during this lesson I found myself beginning to get to know my students better, which helped when I planned my next lesson. Also, I introduced an attention getting signal, which helped me instill a system of classroom management. Ultimately, this lesson allowed me to learn more about my class and begin to figure out affective ways to introduce topics and assess their progress.
My third lesson was about possessive pronouns, and also about the American tradition of Halloween. This lesson was very exciting for the students because of the Halloween portion. When I arrived, I brought decorations and pictures of costumes, which the students enjoyed very much. I am pleased that I began the lesson with the section on possessive pronouns, because this encouraged the students to focus and remain attentive, since they knew that the section on Halloween would shortly follow. This lesson seemed to be a great success. Most of the students correctly used possessive pronouns when they participated orally, and on their task-sheets.
So far I am having a very pleasant experience teaching in the Kassel School and I am very excited to continue this journey!
I cannot believe that I am already halfway done with my time here in Florence! I truly have fallen in... MORE
I cannot believe I have been living in Florence for 6 weeks now! That is just crazy and unbelievable. The time is flying by faster than I can even process everything that is going on! I know it’s only been a month and a half, but I can already honestly say that it has been the best month and a half of my life so far. Abroad is amazing and incredible and I am so lucky to be experiencing everything that I am. Going abroad is a popular thing to do at PC. We don’t even realize how special of an opportunity this is and how lucky we are. I am living in Italy and traveling throughout the country and to other European countries on the weekends. It is just insane in the best way possible. This is truly the experience of a lifetime. On top of everything, we are able to teach English to Italian students… how incredible is that!Last week we met our practicum classes and teachers. You might be thinking to yourself, how am I supposed to teach English to elementary school students when I don’t speak Italian? Don’t worry. We all were thinking the same thing. None of us are fluent in Italian; none of us can speak more than a few sentences. It is definitely an experience, but a great one. I was very nervous going to the school for the first time. I had no idea what to expect when I arrived there. Kathryn Abraham is my teaching partner and we both had so many questions before starting practicum. We had no idea what teachers here in Italy wore to school. We did not know how it was going to work out being in two separate classes throughout the week. How could we give the students instructions when we only speak English and they really only speak Italian?After going to the classroom, many of our fears were relieved. The classrooms here are very different than what we are used to. There are many similarities, but many differences, as well. The kids were so incredibly excited to have us. When we walked into the classroom, they were all chattering excitedly and smiling at us. They were constantly waving to try and get our attention as we talked to the teacher. They were shy at first when speaking in English to us, but as the class progressed, they became more open. They were fighting over who got to sit next to Kathryn and I. They begged us to read aloud to them from their book. Their eyes were constantly on us, taking in every word we said. When I mentioned that I was from New York, they lit up. Whenever we used Italian words or phrases, they beamed. It was the cutest thing I have ever seen. They were all adorable and they didn’t want us to leave at the end of the two hours. Many of them rushed up to us and gave us hugs before we left. It was incredible.I know that teaching these students is going to be a challenge. We are in a fifth grade classroom and they definitely know a lot of English, but there is a lot that they will not be able to understand. In prepping for week one of actual teaching, we have translated a lot of phrases into Italian just in case they are unable to understand what we are asking them to do. The classroom teacher will also be an extremely helpful resource in offering advice to us with directions, as we are to her with English phrases and usage. PC has prepared us well for this challenge. It will be extremely rewarding and unlike anything we will ever have the opportunity to do. It has already made our abroad experience absolutely incredible. Ciao Providence College!– Kristen Nappy
I cannot believe I have been living in Florence for 6 weeks now! That is just crazy and unbelievable. The... MORE
As the semester comes to an end, we all have been inclined to step back and reflect on our experiences here in Florence. We came as a group of eleven Elementary Special Education students and a professor. Some of us had class together before, but none of us were close. We all welcomed our time together on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to share what we were learning about the teaching and global education practices. Weekly practicum experiences brought new insights for each of us: insight about teaching, insights about children, insights about ourselves. There were surely challenges: children’s stares with blank faces not sure what we said, the Florence train and bus drivers strike, little classroom board space to write on, last minute change in schedules at the school, and lack of clarity about what to teach. However, the challenges and differences from home are what made each of us stronger teachers. We provided each other support and feedback through lesson study, observation and our class partner who assisted us as we taught our class. Our cooperating teachers varied in style, but each welcomed us into their class, shared their love of teaching and taught us more about teaching English as a Foreign Language. The children’s engagement challenged each of us to figure out the best way to communicate with them and share our knowledge of English and American culture. Pictures, videos, gestures, real objects, simple written text, our beginning Italian, help from a cooperating teacher or a student whose parents came from an English speaking country often provided each of us the way to share ideas, new vocabulary, stories of our American holidays, family and home towns.
Here are a few of the lessons we learned:
Practicum taught me that you are learning almost as much as the students are. I would adjust the way I did something according to my last lesson, then teach another lesson, and find another aspect to tweak. There will always be something that you can change in a lesson to make it better. Lilli B
I have adopted the Italian “go with the flow” lifestyle and so has my teaching. I still go into the classroom prepared for my lesson, yet if something goes wrong, I do not freak out or have a small panic attack, I deal with what I have and perform the lesson in the best way possible. Ariana
The children were so excited to have us teaching in their classroom and were engaged in every lesson. All of the students would be so proud when they got answers correct and understood the lesson. This experience has taught me that the children were able to gain a sense of pride by practicing their work. Hayley F
This semester, I found that the wording of directions presents a fine line between achieving understanding and hindering the students from understanding. Emphasizing the key words in a sentence or set of directions has caused me to reflect and really think about what is worth saying to the students and what is worth or okay to omit. I have learned that less is always more, sticking to the relevant expectations and directions are the important factors. This will even help me to improve my oral practice in the classroom for non-ELLs or English as foreign language students. Lauren F
What it has taught me about children is that in general all students have some of the same wants and needs. Cross culturally students all want to recognized for their work, they are all interested in learning about something new as long as it is presented in a creative and engaging way, and finally all students strive to do well and can get frustrated if they feel that something is beyond their comprehension Kathryn G
By living in a foreign country as well as traveling throughout Europe I have also had the opportunity to see the unique aspects of various cultures and expand my worldview. In learning new things about people from all over the world it also inversely helped me understand more about myself. Michaela B
In many ways I have become more independent as I have learned about being in charge of shopping and cleaning within an apartment, paying my phone bill, and managing a credit card. I have also become more dependent though, I have had to be willing to let others translate and guide me to different locations. I think by learning this balance I will be more successful. Throughout life there will be times that I need to figure things out for myself and then there are times that I will need to be willing to ask for help. Marissa L
I learned so much about teaching English as a foreign language, in such a new and diverse classroom setting. This was my first practicum where I worked with third grade, and the students were enthusiastic and capable of interacting with me and challenging their English knowledge. I often found myself just standing in the classroom smiling. I was so happy while I was teaching this semester because of the kid’s enthusiasm, and their genuine inclination to help each other… Whether it was a student taking the initiative to help a student with special needs when the assistant was absent, their nerves when pronouncing new words, or their enthusiasm to sing, I found myself drawn to this class in a way where I was learning from them (hopefully) just as much as they were learning from me.
Before this experience I had not realized the complexity of the English language. I had taken for granted all of the small components of the language that are necessary tools in order to understand English. By being put in an Italian classroom and being challenged to teach students who did not speak the same language as me, I gained an appreciation for language that I did not previously have. I realized the importance of word choice and discovered how even the smallest words may mean the difference between comprehension and confusion. Kiley R
My practicum experience in Florence definitely taught me a lot about teaching ESL students, but it taught me a lot about children in general as well. … It was interesting to compare my Italian fourth graders to my mom’s American fourth graders during their video logs back and forth, and I ended up finding more similarities than differences in their behavior and interaction with each other. They shared similar interests in popular music, entertainment, and food, and both groups were equally excited to learn about each other. Justine H
Every week I was welcomed with hugs, kisses, and 26 students shouting “hellooo” in their Italian accents. Nothing made me want to teach them more than when they would catch a glimpse of me walking up the stairs and then run towards me. Not only did the students get excited to see me walking up the stairs, but I always looked forward to the next time I was going to see them. Planning my lessons for the students was not only a learning experience from a teaching standpoint, but it was also fun and enjoyable from a personal standpoint. Nicole O
As the semester comes to an end, we all have been inclined to step back and reflect on our experiences... MORE