I had the opportunity to work at three different schools in the outer parts of Florence. Each class that I worked in gave me different experiences and lessons that I will take with me when I leave to go back to the United States.
The first class I worked with were a group of 3rd grade students which I learned to love. In that class there was a special needs student that was a part of the class, but in a way that I’ve never seen before. Back in the United States for me, students with special needs were usually put into different classrooms to be taught by their own learning style and speed. A skill that I will take away from this experience is teamwork, because the students would work together to help this student along with the teacher which really put into perspective how much the students and teachers cared for one another, which I hope to bring into my classroom one day.
The other classes that I worked with were two preschool level classes and the biggest thing that I took away from this experience was learning to communicate with others in a different way. The teachers and the students in this class did not speak any English and I had to learn and get over this barrier while working with them.
I also worked with another group of students in the 5th grade and they were practicing grammar in English, which was very difficult for them especially when I asked them questions about it. Something I took away from this class was problem solving because sometimes when the students didn’t understand the questions I would ask I would have to come up with a different way or different approach to the question that would make it easier for them to respond. It is very hard to work with students that have such a language barrier with you, and don’t understand or learn your language the way you learned it when you were younger, so finding a way to help them do this was very eye opening and a challenge that I haven’t ever done before.
The last class that I worked with was my favorite group of students out of all of them. I only was with them for three class periods, but they made me realize that I want to be a teacher when I grow up. This was a group of 8th graders that were so eager to learn about my culture and
who I was, where the other classes didn’t seem to have the same eagerness to learn. It was very fun to work with these students and I looked forward to going to see them. The biggest thing that I will take away from this experience of working with elementary students in Florence is that I want to do this in the future. Maybe not as far as living abroad, but definitely teaching. I loved looking at the connections that the teachers had with the students and I haven’t been interested in a lot of things that I have been learning about in my home university, so having this experience gave me the realization that will probably change my future career choice. I gained a lot of skills from this volunteer teaching experience that I will bring home with me and continue to grow in.
Written by: Meredith, Spring 2023, Miami University