It has been my 3rd week in Ms. Ashley and Barker’s classroom. I have the opportunity to go into the school twice a week to teach in both fifth grade classrooms. I feel like I am getting so much out of this experience because I am able to spend my time in two classes, where I can see not only the differences in the structures of the classrooms but also the various teaching styles.
The things that caught my eyes, as I entered the classroom and spent time working with the children, were the obvious differences between the classrooms in Paris and those in America. I help both classes with math. One major difference is that Ms. Ashley never teaches mathematics to the entire class as a whole. Every day children split up into their groups, which were determined in the beginning of the year after several assessments, and are responsible to work on worksheets together that are tailored to their level. Each day she works with a different group, where she plans a lesson for them and guides them to understand each problem. Children work with partners in their groups. Partner 1 will be given worksheet A and Partner 2 will be given worksheet B. They will work on the worksheets separately and after 20 minutes they will switch papers and check their partner’s work. Problems on the worksheets correspond to one another, allowing a partner explain a problem to the other if the student did not get the correct answer. At the school I completed my first pre-practicum, the teacher always gave a lesson to the entire class. After the lesson there were smaller group activities tailored to students of different levels. Ms. Ashley says she prefers it this way because she wants everyone to reach their highest potential and she believes working with such a diverse group of kids with various levels, splitting into groups is the optimal way of achieving her goal. What do you think are some pros and cons to her method? Which would you prefer?
Another difference is the diversity of the students. Since the school is an international school, every student is from a different country. My CT told me that the school tries to pair students from the same country in the same classroom so they can use their mother language to help communicate in the classroom. Every student understands English but almost all the children speak in different accents, which I find fascinating. Also I always see students who speak the same language helping one another understand materials. I think this promotes diversity and raises cultural awareness since the students are freely able to share their traditions and cultures in the classroom.
Despite the obvious differences between teaching abroad and teacing in America, I also observed some similarities. Miss Ashley and Mr. Barker both collaborate a lot. There is a lot of communication between the two teachers. A door connects their classrooms. I see Mr. Barker in Miss. Ashley’s class all the time and visa versa. They always seem to discuss lessons and activities. Also since I work with both classes, I see that they are always learning the same materials. The students are taught the same materials in different ways depending on the teacher’s style. In Boston, my CT would always collaborate with other teachers to gain ideas and suggestions from other teachers. She gained a lot of perspective by listening to other teachers.
Another similarity is the technology that is used in the classroom. The classroom has a smartboard along with ipads and laptops. There are basic things like white boards and markers for the students. In America, especially in schools that can afford it have technology similar to those mentioned above to enrich a child’s experience of learning.