2012 / Italy

The greatest challenges and biggest surprises in Italy!


This past Friday completed my third full week at the English International School of Padua.  It is crazy how the time has flown already! I feel that have had a great deal of learning experiences within just these first three week. It truly has been a remarkable with a lot of firsts for me.  It has been so interesting to see the way this school operates and the structure they follow on a day to day basis.

Within the first few days of my placement I was able to observe not only my own classroom I am placed in but the other year 3 classrooms as well where I “assist” during any free time I may have.  During this time I noticed how every teacher did the same exact lesson for each subject. Now, when I say same…I mean identical. Exact same worksheet, board examples, wording, objective, time, etc.  I wondered by in the world everything was so exact since they did not use a specific curriculum book such as Everyday Mathematics or something to that extent… until our Wednesday planning day rolled around.  It turns out that the four year 3 teachers plan everything for one another.  One teacher plans Maths (yes, Maths, not Math), one teacher plans English, and one teacher plans topic lessons which include; geography, history, art, circle time, and science (they do one topic lesson a day only).  This means the lesson one teacher creates all must use.  It is so interesting because the classrooms are not allowed to adapt the lesson to meet the needs of what may be best for their classrooms.  I find this extremely challenging because each room has areas they strive in and areas they struggle in.  They are not allowed to change their plans for a day if they feel their class may need more time on an area to truly understand or complete a task.  This so far has been by biggest challenge due to the fact I want to give students adequate amount of time to really master the subject matter if they need it.  However, the students are used to this method and pace.  Also it is spiraling curriculum so they will visit these areas again during the second and third term, which makes me feel better! It was just surprising to see this and how the students adapt to it so well! Already, I have become much for used to it.  And to add to these lesson plans that everyone uses, I take on the subject my cooperating teacher is planning which means, I plan the lessons that EVERYONE is using! Ah! A little nerve racking, don’t you think? Had to be on my ‘A’ game for lesson planning. I have only planned Maths for two weeks so far! 

There has been quite a few other surprises I have had as well.  One being the time they are allotted each day for one lesson.  For instance my classroom does Maths each morning from 8:45 am  until 10:30 am.  I felt that was quite a bit of time for one single lesson but it gave the students a great deal of time to work on there in class worksheets and do an extension activity.  I was a little nervous my first time teaching because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to use the whole time period! However, I did! During these lesson periods, students are not pulled out to receive help or assistance instead they are categorized into ability levels by lower, middle or higher.  During this time students move seats in the classroom so they are with their ability levels.  Of course I do not say “lower’s over here” or “all the higher’s sit together”!  Instead I just say “let’s arrange some seats” or “I am going to move…”  The students are again used to this and see no problem in it.  Each ability level receives a different worksheet so it meets their level or ability.  It was just surprising to see how the students are categorized in such a way.

The students and staff in the school all seem to have a wonderful relationship and are extremely supportive of one another.  They allow help one another out and know each other’s names.  It is so nice to see a school have a bond like this!  I really enjoy being apart of it as well! Everyone has been so welcoming and kind.  Adding to this supportive environment the schools holds “golden book” assemblies every Friday afternoon where teachers gave provide students with golden books for good behavior, super work, good attitudes, etc.  The students LOVE it! They get so excited and applaud one another.  I even get to make golden books for students! It is great.

Overall my experience this far in Italy has been nothing but amazing! I get to learn and grown as an educator during the week and be a tourist on the weekends! The fun is on going, I could not be happier!  Hope everyone is loving their experiences!

Ciao for now!



2 thoughts on “The greatest challenges and biggest surprises in Italy!

  1. Alexandra,
    Your description of the team planning is very interesting. I’m sure it can be frustrating to not be able to focus on differentiation with your class – we spend lots of time teaching our students to do this for their pupils! The school sounds like a welcoming and warm environment. I remember the Friday assemblies as well and how important it was for team building and positive encouragement for both staff and students.
    How much time are you actually teaching now?

  2. Alex-
    Your curriculum planning sounds very interesting! I also plan with a year group team, but we do not have to stay in constant alignment with one another. It must be extremely difficult to take someone else’s lesson and teach it the way they have planned it. You mentioned with this planning style differentiation for a each different classroom is lost- but is the lesson differentiated at all? Lower, middle, and higher ability?

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