November 5, 2012
Something I have noticed lacking in the classroom during my first few visits is classroom management. I am observing with two different teachers in six different classes (various grades, and levels within the grades) and this is something I have noticed across the board, not just with one class or one teacher’s management style.
The school schedule itself is a little hard for me to grasp. Three days a week students attend school from 8-1 and two days a week they attend from 8-1 with another “session” from 1-5/6 (depending on when parents want to pick their children up in that last hour.) At first I was under the impression that it was an optional after school program, but then realized that all students attend until 4 o’clock, and some stay from 4-6. I am never there for the after school program, but the way the students and teachers talked about it, it seems even more laid back than during the school day, so I cannot imagine what management is like during this time.
Back to management that I am, or am not really, witness to. The school day is divided into different periods or blocks, much like ours are here, however they are not very firm on starting at the beginning of the period. By this I do not mean that the teacher takes a long time for the students to settle in, pass in homework, or check homework before the lesson actually starts. I mean that the students and even sometimes the teachers are in the hallways or office talking or eating a snack up to ten minutes after the bell rings. What is even more chaotic is that the incoming teacher must show up to the classroom before the previous class’ teacher can leave. It seems to create an endless cycle of being late, but no one is very concerned or annoyed about it. I find this very unusual because of 1) the time it wastes, and 2) the many teachers here who would be extremely annoyed and frustrated if another teacher constantly relieved them late! I definitely think that this is a huge reflection on the differences in our cultures. In general, Italian culture is much more relaxed and less worrisome than we often seem to be.
During periods, kids are often chatty and loud without the teacher really reprimanding them or giving any warnings or consequences. I know that there are CT’s I have been with in the past who have strategies that they either don’t carry out very well or that don’t yield results because of a particularly challenging or tough group of kids. However, they do not really have any strategies to discipline with. It was not that the students aren’t receptive; the teachers just do not try usually. I find this very odd but it makes me wonder if this only occurs during the English classes. I can remember joking off during Spanish class in middle and high school. We definitely did not take it as seriously as our other academic classes. However, our teachers still disciplined us more often than I see it here. Maybe I will get a chance to observe in one of their subject classes and see if the students behave in the same manner, or if they really are more concentrated and focused.