My time in Italy has finally come to an end, and I couldn’t be more sad. I am truly grateful that I have just completed one of thee most educational and eye opening experiences of my life. It is unbelievable how naive I was in my understanding and knowledge of educational systems around the world. Being able to take on, first hand this experience in Italy has allowed me to see the pros and cons of various components in education and helped in shaping my own teaching pedagogy that much more.
As I reflect back upon my experience in Italy I look back at how unsure and frightened I was to take on this experience the first day I walked through doors at the English International School of Padua. Although the school may have looked like an Elementary school, the way it operated was completely different than anything I have done at home. I think about the first time I took part in group planning and how I wanted to just crawl under the table or yell “THIS IS SO WRONG, EACH CLASS IS DIFFERENT, THEY SHOULD BE TAUGHT ACCORDINGLY”. But I didn’t, I kept it together, and I learned I can create substantial lesson plans fitting for all classes and work well with my colleagues. For as nerve-racking as this was for me, I learned to see the benefits and how the students and school used it to their advantage to progress. Although it was a completely foreign concept to me at first, it became a norm, and a skill I have gained to use and work with in the future.
During this experience, I officially had my first taste of what it would truly be like to run and manage a classroom on my won. My cooperating teacher, was the English Coordinator at the school had in my third and fourth quarter there had to cover a huge project that was taking place. During this time it was really just the kiddos and myself! At first I started sweating thinking, “these talkative, adorable Italian children are going to eat me alive with conversation”, however with some rule adjustments and Miss. Alex accommodations it went wonderfully! The students and I quickly adjusted to our new dynamics and the classroom and understood how we all operated. To deal with the chatty-ness, I brought in a voice level chart that has special name for each voice level. (0-Scilence is Golden, 1- Spy Talk, 2- Low Flow, 3- Formal Normal, 4-Loud Crowd, 5-Out of Control) This voice level chart was a miracle! Although it was very simple, it was something we discussed as a class always before we broke off to do our work. The students really took to it and followed it to the best of their ability! 🙂 Along with that I introduced various new attention grabbers or small sayings that I knew would grasp their attention. It was fun for them to have something new in the classroom and very fun for me to introduce this little tricks I have gained. Throughout this time I was able to develop my confidence in the classroom and throughout the various subjects. I found myself being that much more aware and observant to students needs and comprehension.
Through all the various experiences and accomplishments I have had during my time at the English International School of Padua, I would have to say my greatest one was the fact that for 10 weeks I worked with a whole classroom of English as a Second Language students. I was able to work with them on strategies to develop and improve their English, come up with various accommodations to help in their comprehension and expand my own strategies to make communication with them that much stronger. This experience has opened my eyes to a whole new way of approaching ESL students. I am honored to go back and use these skills in my future classroom and help children succeed from them!
It is amazing how quickly my time in Italy went. Although it speed by faster than I would have liked, it has left me with a lifetime of memories and knowledge that I will forever be grateful for. The people, beauty and culture of Italy have captured my heart and opened my eyes and mind to a whole new world. I will miss my students in Italy and will always remember their voices saying “But, uh Miss. Alex what will we ever do without you?”, the most caring kiddos in the world! Although my time has come to and end I am honored to take what I have learned and share it with all the future students and colleagues I get to work with!