Teaching in Italy Compared to the U.S.

For the past five weeks, I have gotten the privilege to teach at Collodi Elementary school in Italy. The school is located in Albano Laziale, next to our campus and by Castel Gondolfo. There are about 300 students, and my partner Katelynn and I have gotten the chance to teach a Thanksgiving lesson to three different classrooms. Katelynn and I are both majoring in Early Childhood Education so it was really fun to get the chance to teach the first and fourth grade students in Italy. Teaching at Collodi has definitely helped prepare me to teach my own class soon by showing me some of the difficulties that I will face. This will challenge me in the best of ways.

A connection that I made during my fourth grade observation was the similar range of student learners both in America and Italy. Both nations have a wide range of learning styles within a classroom. In Italy, a student in the front row happened to catch my eye. When we first began our lesson, this student was not paying much attention to our lesson, but instead seemed to be in his own world. The teacher pulled both of us aside and explained that the student had a language disorder and could not speak or write in English or Italian. This student was nonverbal, which would prevent him from completing our lesson. The teacher came up with a separate lesson for the student that would focus more on him learning the English number system while the other students worked on our lesson. I found this relatable to our classes in America because it proved to me that no matter what the culture, students have different needs and abilities that teachers need to be aware of to prepare a Plan B. The smile I saw on this student’s face told me that he was just happy to be in a learning environment, and inspired me to make all of my future students feel comfortable in my class.

This teaching moment made me think of how we as a society are very dependent on each other’s actions. A great example of this is that particular student that I observed was dependent on the school to educate and take care of him in a way that his home life could not provide. Not only was the student in need, but I needed to see this student in this class to fully understand the amount of diversity a classroom can have and be prepared for difficult situations in my future class. An act of kindness can go a long way. For example the previous scenario worked in two ways. Without the teacher being open and welcoming to the student, that child would never have learned to be social, and would not have been able to interact with others, or to experience the love we need as humans. The teacher was also able to act through the image of God by allowing all of her students a chance to learn and reach their full potential. When I become a teacher, I cannot wait to use all of my experiences from studying abroad and observations to better my students’ learning experiences. I want my students to show growth and to be inspired by me, just like I was inspired by this teacher and student in Italy.

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