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Posted by: russellms on 12/11/2017 - 4:13pm

TOMORROW IS THE DAY!

I knew this blog post would be coming but I never knew it would be coming so soon. Ireland has stolen a piece of my heart, and that is something I am certain of. When I first arrived here on November 5th, I was nervous and I thought “five weeks is going to be so long…” boy was I wrong. Time has flown by and now I am having to say goodbye to my wonderful host family, host home, precious school, students, and Ireland. It’s amazing how the longer you are in a certain place the more it becomes a part of you. I will never regret making the decision to come on this trip and I would not change one thing about my experience.

To my host family, THANK YOU. Thank you for welcoming me into your home and treating me as one of your own. Since I was not able to have my family here with me, you made me part of yours and I will never be able to repay you for the kindness and warmth you have shown me over the past 5.5 weeks. It is scary leaving everything and everyone you know behind to travel 3,700 miles away but you made it so much easier. Thank you for the WONDERFUL meals, company, and laughs. I hope we continue to stay in touch long after this adventure is over.

To Bray School Project, thank you for mixing my passion for travel and teaching into one. There is nothing I love more in this world than teaching young students and you let me enjoy that while being in a whole new country. Your generosity, pep-talks, and advice will stay with me always. You taught me SO much about education and gave me a new outlook on some things that I may want to do differently in my classroom. Thank you for the afternoon “tea time” when we were able to laugh and share stories like we had known each other our whole lives. THANK YOU for letting me do what I LOVE.

To the girls I traveled with, I could have never survived this adventure without you ALL. Let’s be honest, I would have never made it through Charlotte Airport without you. For all the constant laughs, jokes, and memories… Thank You. It is not every day that you meet a group of girls you could travel the world with but you all made it a piece of cake. Thanks for helping me become a pro at airport travel/customs (even when I got held up at Charlotte security… see, I would have never made it), a pro at laughing, and a pro of living life to the fullest. I wish you all the BEST in life and I KNOW you will be killer teachers!! Now, let’s GRADUATE.

To my family and friends back home, Thank You. Thank you for supporting me each day even when I was SO far away. You have no idea how much I have missed each of you and I cannot wait to reunite with all of you and share story after story (you might have to make me stop talking). I am a TRUE “family girl” and being away for 5.5 weeks was challenging for me, but it comes to an end tomorrow.

This program has shown taught me so many new things about myself and teaching, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for me. 

Back to the USA I go!! NEXT STEP: GRADUATION!!

Posted by: jaroszewskita on 12/11/2017 - 3:05pm

We’re about to leave Ireland next week and it’s so crazy how fast time has gone by. I feel like I just got here and got accustomed to the school, staff, and students. This week, I worked a lot individually with a student who just moved here a few months ago and is struggling to fit in, settle into the schedule, and just overall feel like himself. He gets so easily worked up and frustrated and completely shuts down. Some days, like the other student, I feel like I make progress and I see this wonderful, true other side of him; that I broke down a piece of this barrier and can get him to talk to me and get some work done. Other days, he acts like he doesn’t even know me or can recall what we talked about the day before. I’ve had students in the past that were a challenge, pushed my buttons, and demanded me to be on my toes. I’ve never had something this hard before, though. I’ve never had students just sort of completely refuse to listen to anybody, to freak out and leave a classroom and go somewhere else, or tell me, “I just don’t care what you think or anyone else at this school.” To me, it’s a deeper problem than just at school... in fact, I know it is. I asked the other teachers about their home life and then you’re forced to ask yourself, “why wouldn’t this child act like this?” On some level (not entirely by ANY means) I can relate to this. I know what it’s like to feel like the world is against you, that you’re not good enough, and to do stupid things merely because you’re upset. I think that’s why it hits so close to home. I’m sitting there listening to these students inch closer to truths about what’s really going on and then just fold their arms again, quitting on themselves. I try from every angle I know how to get them to take some more steps forward, and they do (which is always awesome to see as a teacher) but then... it’s a new day, but that same negative attitude comes back. It’s always hard because I leave next week and then what happens? Who works one on one with them now? Thats the hardest thing about being a teacher in my opinion. There are so many beautiful and life changing moments that you won’t get anywhere else, but sometimes, there simply is just never enough. I really love the host family that were staying with. They make Sharon and I feel right at home and Darren, their 3 year old, is so lively, fun, and adventurous. We went for a long with the dog, Honey, before a big Sunday dinner, and went to the new houses they were building at the end of the neighborhood. He asked me, “ummm Theresa why are they building this stuff? What’s it for?” I said, “well, people need houses to live in, just like you! So these people are making that happen.” He replies, “oh right, mom and Dad help with that project I forgot.” Both of his parents, in fact, have nothing to do with this and work and have completely separate jobs. He says the funniest, uncorrelated things sometimes. We also got to go to a trivia night with our principal and her friend, and we were TERRIBLE at it, but we still had a lot of fun. This weekend is Dublin! I’m also so excited for all of us to get to travel together. We have a really good group and I always have a lot of fun with them and they help me not die on all these getaways. 

Posted by: gilbertsa on 12/11/2017 - 12:23pm

Week four was one full of many unexpected things. During the week, I was a part of the normal classrooms that I was assigned to throughout my time. I found myself one day subbing for the junior infant’s class. This was an exciting experience that involved lots a read alouds because there were not any lessons left for the day. I was able to set up the math stations the students usually do and walk around and monitor them. Even though the day was a little hectic it was nice to be in the class by myself and get to teach the youngest ones.  

Later in the week the Garda mounted unit came to the school from Dublin. The unit itself is made up of 14 horses that are a part of the police force in Dublin. We were lucky enough to have two of the horse and officers come to the school and talk about what they do. It was a great chance to learn more about the Police that they have and the jobs that they serve. The horses are taken all over the country and used from things such as crowd control to seeing over crowds. 

On Friday, the day started with an assembly of all the students singing and reciting poems that they had been working on. The songs were going to be performed at the Christmas play that the school puts on. The 6th class boys also presented their projects that they had done about Vikings. It was interesting to hear all about the Vikings and learn more about the history of them. During the day, shortly after that, there was an ambulance that came to school to help someone in need. Due to this happening, it caused a very hectic day that included the students staying in their classes and not getting the first break. By the end of the day the last class I was in just decided to go outside for the rest of the day. This made for a nice end to the week. 

Posted by: noltede on 12/10/2017 - 11:29am

After five weeks of adjusting to life in England, we've uprooted once again. I'm spending the next few days in London with my Nana and then I'll be flying home on Wednesday just in time to move to Charlotte, graduate on Saturday, and begin my first teaching job at the Iredell Charter Academy!

Our final week at St. Albans High School for Girls Prep was bittersweet. The year 6 maths teacher was ill so I spent a lot of time with them and their substitute which I absolutely loved. On Tuesday, I traveled to the Senior School with them to watch them practice for their Winter Concert. The choir and musicians were just wonderful and we had a great time goofing around during the breaks. So, on Friday, getting a big bear hug and signed card from my year 6 girls brought tears to my eyes.

Friday evening, I met up with my Nana who just flew in from NC and we checked into our hotel. Yesterday, I walked to Buckingham Palace, had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel, and walked to the Theatre District to walk and window shop before 2:30 when we saw Les Mis! Holy COW. There was not a single weak actor in the cast. Everyone was so phenomenal and a 3 hour show felt barely an hour long. Afterwards, we had a lovely dinner before heading back to the hotel and crashing for the night.

Today, we decided that since it was SNOWING!!!!! we would stick to indoor activities. We walked around the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery before having a traditional afternoon tea at our hotel. We're having dinner with a couple, that knew my Grandfather before he passed, in a couple hours so figured I'd get this last post in during some down time!

What a wonderful journey the past few weeks have been. I'm so thankful and humbled to have been on this adventure but I can't wait to get home to give my own bed a big hug.

Posted by: andersonpr on 12/10/2017 - 5:46am

It started off like any other day but it was my last. It went by so fast, how can 5 weeks already be gone!? I walked into the class that morning and knew something was up, they were trying to be secretive but it was obvious they had been up to something. One of the students outright told me I would be getting cards, they are not very good at keeping surprises to themselves. It was so hard knowing it was my last day, I tried to take everything in one last time and capture it in my memory. I am sad that I will not see the holiday performances that the students in the school have been working so hard at. I watched the Gruffalo rehearse for the last time today and tried to picture them on the stage, in their costume and performing for their loved ones.

The school had a going away assembly for us. The principle put me in charge of singing Christmas songs while the rest of the classes came in. She had been mentioning to me all week that she was going to have me sing at the assembly but I thought she had just been kidding. Luckily the students and staff who where already in the room sang with me, so we sang Rudolph the Red Nose rRindeer and Jingle Bells. The principle then started the assembly and had the other three international students come up. She wanted us to sing our National Anthem, we tried but defienitly screwed it up, it’s a harder song to sing than you think, especially when you are used to just listening to other people sing it and not actually signing the whole thing yourself. We also did the pledge of allegiance. The upper class students then sang the Irish National Anthem us, it’s in Irish so it is pretty cool to hear. We were then given a gift from the school and the students gave us cards. I got a whole stack of cards from the class that I was mostly with, I love that class and will be sending them a postcard from home when I get back to North Carolina. 

I am so glad that i had this experince. It has been so interestig to see how a school operates in another country and compare what I have observed in that school to those I have been to in America. Thugh we may be from completely different countries and sound different and do things differently, we are all the same on the inside, we all need the same things and have similar wants. One of those being that everyone loves and wishes the best for thier children and wants them to have a good education and in turn, a good life. Though I did my share of takeing down and putting up student works on walls and bulletin boards, I also substitute taught, and worked with the students and staff of the school. I will miss all of the students and staff that I have gotten to know. I had really started to develop some great relationships. It is hard to leave, I do not know how teachers handle saying goodbye to their students at the end of a whole school year, it is difficult after just a few weeks.

 

Posted by: utleycw on 12/09/2017 - 3:45pm

     Well here we are, 5 weeks have come and gone. I cannot believe how fast they have flown by. Saying goodbye to these sweet girls has been one of the hardest things to do. They are so sweet and all were so sad today that we were leaving. They all wanted to know when we were coming back to visit and why we couldn't just stay and teach at their school. The school was so kind and gave us a card and gifts before we left. They took such good care of us the whole time we were there and I couldn't be more thankful. I sure am going to miss the precious british accents and the delicious school lunches. As we pack our bags and collect our things I am looking back at all the good memories we have made and couldn't be more thankful for them. 

     After school today we got a ride into London and had dinner. Tomorrow I am flying to Germany to spend a few days with my mom there. Leaving Europe is going to be hard but I am ready to see my dog, fiancé and family. 

Posted by: reepkm on 12/09/2017 - 6:07am

I can’t believe I have finished up my final week here in Ireland at the school.  It has definitely been a learning process!  After spending the weekend sick and in bed, I started off my final week on Monday fresh and rested (and still a little sick) but nonetheless refreshed.  I subbed all day Monday in a Junior Infants class (Kindergarten).  I had so much fun with these guys and in my own opinion I believe they behave way better than the older kids believe it or not.  We go to do PE with them and taught them some new freeze tag games, then we got to take over aster hour (stem learning), and we even taught them the Tooty Ta song which they loved!  On Tuesday, I was back in 2nd class, the kids were happy to see me again and we had a good day by doing a winter art project and playing Gaelic football.  On Wednesday, I was placed in the autism unit, I had not been in there before so it was all so new.  I wish I would’ve been placed in there sooner though because I really enjoyed working one on one with a single student and helping them out through the day.  It was very rewarding at the end of the day and I wanted to go back and help in unit again.  The day in the unit consisted of exercise time, group work, integrated classroom time, and then individual work and then a group art work activity.  For the group art work activity we made Grinch faces and then watched the cartoon, the kids loved it.  Next, I was placed in a different Junior Infants class and in that class we started out with PE.  This class was honestly the best example of PE I had seen at the school so far, it was organized and kept the kids engaged the whole entire time.  After PE, we did aster hour and then we worked on their upcoming Christmas play by singing Christmas songs.  I leave for home in a few days and I can truly say I’m going to miss Ireland.  I have learned a lot from this experience and will never forget it.

Posted by: jaroszewskita on 12/08/2017 - 11:31am

Blog post week 3:

I’ve been sticking to the same schedule that I began with from the start, so I’m starting to get to really know the students that I’m working with. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it’s a not so good thing. Sometimes I feel like I’m making a breakthrough, they trust me, they’re going to do the right thing, and I’ll get credit for doing a “good job,” even though I’m “the American teacher.” Sometimes I feel like we have so much fun during basketball and we’re a good team. Sometimes I feel really confident. Sometimes I work with a student who causes so much trouble and literally runs away from the school and I have to chase him, sit him back down, and yet again, pour my heart out to him; but I don’t mind. I realize he needs someone to understand and be there and by talking about my past, I can grow too, with him.Other times I walk into a classroom that no one got a sub for (???) and have to take control of it (which to me, I learned in student teaching in the states). Sometimes they don’t listen at all, scream across the room, push each other out of their chairs, and I end up yelling because I’m trying to discipline line them but there’s only so many times that I can say “please stop yelling,” “just keep working on what you were doing,” and even resorting to “let me tell you a funny story that happened to me!”...thinking I could make them laugh and keep them entertained, start a discussion so I could have the control and move from there. Nope sorry, you’re still wrong Theresa. I think we’re all getting to that real experienced understanding that this is never a perfect job. Sometimes kids just don’t listen no matter what you do (especially if there isn’t a lot of discipline being manifested in the school). It’s tough. And then it’s wonderful and fulfilling. And then I have to run outside, find the kid, have the same talk again, and he proceeds to say “well I don’t trust you because you don’t trust me.” WHAT. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN I SHOULDNT EVEN HAVE TO.... And then I have to train my mind to say a patient response and remember that this is my job. Once you get passed all of the hugs and the cute notes and actually getting to the grit and guts of what teaching really is and demands, you make a choice to give up or keep going. You make a choice to cave in and not care or cave in and just yell or to keep trying different things, asking other teachers what they do, and trying to stay as positive as you can. In some ways, this has been more of a learning experience than it was in the states. Which I didn’t really think would happen considering the work load that I had to do. This has just been different. Fewer resources, lower income families, moving from class to class with no real, established agenda. I think sometimes you just have to go with the experiences that you’re having and keep getting better, especially when it proves to be out of your comfort zone. Remember the times when you DO make a breakthrough, when you DO teach a student to read in complete sentences, when you ARE listened to, when you DO give a smile to a student and they reciprocate the same one. There’s good days, there’s bad days, it’s life. It makes me think about what my dad always says: “life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it.” This weekend, we’re all traveling to SCOTLAND! 

Posted by: andersonpr on 12/08/2017 - 2:18am

Last week at the school was pretty typical, I had the routines and schedule down by that point and was doing my part to help out in any way I could. I subbed for a 2nd class with Kayla H., luckily Kayla had been in that class before and knew the kids because I had not been in there before. I feel that the Junior and Senior Infant classes listen and follow directions better than the older classes. It may be because these skills are focused on in the younger classes, the Infant classes must have “good looking, good listening and good sitting”. I love being with my Senior Infant class, one of my favorite things is getting to read to them while they are eating snack or lunch, I am with them whenever I can. I also often help out a Junior Infants class, especially during Aistear hour. Last week was science week, I was in the Junior Infants class when another older class came in to work with them on making their own paper helicopters. It was really nice to watch the older and younger students work together. It was a joyous experience to see the expression of delight on the students faces when they completed their project, stepped onto a chair and dropped their helicopter, watching it twirl to the ground.  

Last Friday, we went to a staff holiday party in Dublin. It was in a very popular pub in which we had two tables reserved at. It was fun but also strange to see the staff members outside the school environment. We went back home to Greystones that night but then came back into Dublin the next morning. We went on a Dublin Castle tour and then to the Guinness Storehouse. On Sunday, we had a much-needed day of rest and relaxation after being on the go for weeks on end.

We went to Edinburgh, Scotland the other weekend. It is a magical place! You are just walking down the city street and you look up and there is a huge castle mounted up on the hill in the middle of the city! I felt like I was in a fairytale town at times.

 

Posted by: milesle on 12/07/2017 - 11:23am

It's our last week in Germany and we're going out with a bang! After this week, I've had a chance to be in almost all grades expect a few during my time here! I've worked with grades 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10! I've learned so much from all the teachers at the Gutenburgschule and especially Heidi. The language barrier was tough at first but I learned how to communicate in other ways. I've learned how to speak clearly and more about English grammar than I ever did in school.

I learned that when Germans hear Americans these are the first things that come to their minds: Donald Trump, gun laws, LA, Las Vegas, musical artists, football, and food. This experience has given me the opportunity to understand what it's like to come to a new country that speaks a completely different language and have to go to a new school that doesn't speak my home langauge. It's very difficult and can be frustrating at first. This will help me when I return home to reach out and make better connections with the English Language Learners in my own classroom. 

This has been an amazing experience and it couldn't have happened without Heidi. Heidi is the most welcoming and might I add the coolest woman I've ever met! She has taught me to find my passion in life and run with it. Being educator, isn't always the most stress free career but as long as you find your outlet to let the stress go, every day will be a stress free and happy. Thanks Heidi for everything that you've done for me!

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