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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Learning From My Students

Today was my final day at Maria Luigia, an unreal reality for me, considering the fact I began student teaching there on February tenth. Fortunately, I also got to visit the school I will be completing the rest of my international practicum at this semester today as well. Contrasting my previous experience, the next school I will be attending is a private Catholic school, with young students in elementary grades. I am looking forward to the opportunity to not only compare this experience with my American student teaching in public school elementary classrooms, but also relate it to my Italian student teaching experience in public middle school classrooms. I believe that, although I am disappointed I did not get to work an extended amount of time in Maria Luigia, the chance I have been given to student teach at two schools with distinct characteristics will enrich my international practicum experience in a extremely unique way, one that will encourage a great deal of critical, comparative reflection. In this sense, although I definitely would have liked to spend more time at Maria Luigia, I also am very thankful for my new placement and the revelations that will arise out of it.

When looking back on my time at Maria Luigia, I realize that I have learned probably more from my students than they have learned from me. Although my time in this school was so limited, it has greatly impacted me not only in terms of my teaching style, as I have discussed in a previous blog post, but also with regards to my own personal growth. Today, in particular, I listened to a great deal of discussion, in which I surprisingly learned a lot of new, complex information. For today’s lesson in classroom 3B, one I had been a part of the previous week; I gave a presentation on the life and works of Emily Dickinson. I have to admit that when my Cooperating Teacher first assigned this task, I was a bit confused. Although I had done a presentation on famous Americans the previous week, Emily Dickinson was certainly not an American figure I would expect an Italian teacher to present to an English learning class. Before my presentation, however, the students presented me with a great deal of information regarding the famous writer Giacomo Leopardi, as well as distinct writing styles including personal negative solitude, positive solitude, and social solitude. All of these presentations were impressively given in English. One student even described personal negative solitude with the metaphor, “It is like a rainy day that turns my soul gray.” Needless to say I was floored. I came prepared to educate students on a famous American poet, but I felt I was learning a great deal more about the intricacies of writing and history from these students than they were going to absorb from my short presentation. This only further built upon the knowledge class 2B had given me regarding historic Italian figures the previous week. I could not recall giving presentations on cultural figures of this caliber until my later years of high school during my own Spanish learning experience. In this sense, I came to appreciate even more the Italian system for second language learning, as it truly moves beyond simple grammatical rules and exercises to encompass an entire culture and usage of a language. I therefore am extremely grateful for my time in Maria Luigia, no matter how short it was.

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