So it has officially been a week since my arrival here in Italia and I am loving every second of it. After (somewhat) adjusting to my environment, I began to think about my new life as teacher. Lesson plans, the correct use of “they’re” and “their,” even simple things like the alphabet. How am I going to teach my “mother tongue” if I can’t even speak English well, myself? I studied the life sciences my entire life, with no intentions of teaching. This is a big change for me. It’s like one day I wake up and I’m an English teacher. That’s literally what happened.
The Italian school system is quite different from America (or at least what I’m used to). In Italy, the success of the student is placed solely in the hands of the student and parents. I’m not saying the teacher doesn’t play a role, but if a student is to do well, he/ she must have the self-motivation in order to pass. Teachers are not there to hold your hand along the way, rather they give you the tools and resources you need to be successful. One thing I found surprising is how much independence the Italian students have. Upon completion of scuola media, or middle school, the student must decide which learning path to take. He/she attends a liceo (high school) specific to that path, all the way through university. Basically the student decides their profession at age 13! Also, sorry America, sports isn’t a thing here. Being good at a sport will not give you a free pass into a university nor will it get you anywhere (unless you a playing professionally). Grades are based on written AND oral testing. The student is put on the spot and must answer questions orally while the rest of the students watch. Also, grades are read out loud so everyone knows how you are doing. My school has about 300 kids. I have lessons with each student for at least one hour a week.
Monday was my first day of school. It was a normal school day routine, except this time I wasn’t the student. The entire school knew who I was the moment I stepped onto campus. I was the “Cinese” from America. Everyone assumed I was from China because I didn’t fit the typical tall, white, and fat American stereotype. Unfortunately I am none of those things, but I am indeed an American 😉
Each class period was almost identical. I walked into the class, got a standing salute, and had questions&answers time. The responses I got to some of my answers were priceless. Being born in Hawaii makes me more of a celebrity. Children were in shock when I said I grew up there. Sometimes its hard to remember that I come from a beautiful place. But then again, I love seeing the Alps in the background every time I step out of the door.
I respect the work that all you educators do for our children. Its a hard job. Did it for a week and I am already exhausted. Here are some pictures to fill in my blanks:
Three of my favorite things all at once. Italy, snow, & volleyball 🙂
The BEST gelato I’ve ever had.
The entirety of my village in one panorama.
Oh and yes, I am famous. Here is an article about me in the local newspaper.