Undergoing Maintenance

Cultural Comparisons in Learning Environments

Within the past month, I was lucky enough to both observe and teach at two schools here in Italy. The schools that allowed and welcomed me as soon as I got there was the Vatican School which is private school that is located on the hill of Castle Gandolfo and Collodi Middle School which is a public school that is in Albano Laziale. The age group of students that I worked with for most the time was age seven and I also worked with the fifth graders in the afterschool program. An interesting comparison between American and Italian schools is that in Italy the teachers switch and move from class to class and the students stay in the room because they believe this helps the students stay focused and on task with their schoolwork while in America the teacher stays in the classroom and the students move from one class to another. The teachers in Italy are also more open to group conversation and do not mind if the students are talking to each other about what’s going on in the classroom, when in America the students need to raise their hand or get called on to answer the question or say something about what’s going on in the lesson.

At the Vatican School are around 300 total students at the school and it is about a 15 to 20-minute walk from our campus to the school. Some of the subjects the students learn at the Vatican School are Italian, Math, English, Science, Geography, History, Religion, and Reading. They also have school specials like Physical Education, Music, Art, and even a Dance class that they go to every week. Some of the classrooms have smartboards or projectors but the teachers rarely use them. The students also have either a group table where they do their work or they can use their own desk.

When I was teaching at the Vatican School I did a lesson with a colleague of mine about the different types of animals across the world because the age group we were teaching was the seven-year old’s. We also showed them how to write their names in English and we wrote simple sentences for them to say and write down in their notebooks. It seemed like the students were having a good time with us because they were trying to ask us questions about our personal lives and America, and they were laughing and were always excited about what we were going to do next. It did not even feel like we were teaching because time just flew by when we were there.

I also enjoyed working at Collodi Middle School especially because my licensure area is Middle School Language Arts and Social Studies. At the Collodi Middle School I was placed in grades 3-8 which I enjoyed because it allowed me to see the different age groups and I also had to figure out a way to change my lesson plan up a little bit to make it easier for the students to follow and understand. I decided to teach a lesson about Thanksgiving at the Collodi Middle School because they do not celebrate it in Italy and I wanted to give them some knowledge of why Thanksgiving is so important in the United States. This was a great topic to choose because the students were very interested in it and we also compared American food to Italian food.

I also taught a lesson for the older students about America’s government and how it works because of the Presidential Election was going on and both the teachers and students wanted to know where my stance was which I thought was very funny because I did not expect that question to be asked in every classroom that I went into. I also realized that the teenagers were my favorite age to teach because they are at that age where they are just starting to become adults and they are thinking outside of the box to try and find the answer. When I finished my lesson in one of the classrooms, the teacher pulled me aside and told me that I did a wonderful job with her students and told me to not give up on becoming a teacher because this is what I was meant to do. At first I was speechless when she said this to me because I was not expecting that at all and I thought I messed up a couple of times because I skipped some less important parts of my lesson and the language barrier did not help because the younger students had a difficult time understanding me, but after hearing those words it just made me want to become a teacher even more and I will never forget that moment. I am so glad that I could study abroad this semester with the education program because I truly believe that it has made me both a better person and future teacher. I cannot wait to have my very own classroom and have students come up to my desk and ask me all kinds of questions.

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