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Posted by: willetj on 05/10/2018 - 2:59pm

Hello all!

As I write this final blog, I am back home, wrapping things up before graduation commences tomorrow! It's hard to believe that this amazing experience involving student teaching internationally is now behind me! It seems that the process leading up the experience was one that took a long time to arrive but the experiene itself flew by in the blink of an eye. It seems like only yesterday I was double-checking my bags to ensure that I had packed everything (and then some) that I woulld need for South Africa! How can I put into words what this experience has given me? There's so much to be said and not nearly enough words to share it adequately! It has truly been a life-changing experience! We gained an incredible insight into how schools work in a very differerent part of the world. Yes, their culture is diffferent than ours. Yes, their school systems are different than ours. Yes, even areas of specific focus are different than we might see here in America. But among those differences that we found, we also found a lot in common: We found the people of South Africa to be warm and inviting, fully embracing having us there to help their students. In their staff, we found the same thing that each of us graduating tomorrow in the College of Education program has- a heart for children and their futures! The students there were eager to learn and helped ingrain in me the value of what I am choosing to do with my life, the impact that I will have as a teacher on the little lifes that I will influence daily. For anyone hesitating to participate in this type of experience, don't. There will be challenges. You will be pushed beyond your comfort zone. You will be faced with situations where you may not feel prepared. But all of that is essential for growing an individual to a deeper level of maturity and ability. The pay off that you receive from the this journey far outweighs any struggles you may face leading up to or during the process!  I will always remember the faces of the students that we met. They influenced me strongly and I know I also got to influence them in some small way. I got to help establish a library and see the joy on children's faces from the simplicity of reading a book. And I got to share in a teacher's excitement and help to make something she is passionate about become a reality. Who can put a price on that kind of impact? Personally, I don't think my travels to Africa are finished- this has been an impactful step for me to lead to my journey for the rest of my life and I am very excited to see where that takes me! Jennifer Willet

Posted by: willetj on 05/10/2018 - 10:16am

We spent about 4 days in Cape Town doing some sightseeing and it was beautiful!  We took advantage of a long holiday weekend and used our time wisely, but even still there was so much to be seen in Cape Town that we could easily have spent a few more days there packed full of adventures! Cape Town is known for the many wonderful activities to be done, among them being exploring the well known Table Mountain, which was named one of the 7 natural wonders of the world in 2012. My cohort and I decided we were in for the tough adventure and opted to hike up the 2 mile steep incline to the top of Table Mountain. Upon our arrival at the top, we were not disappointed in the beautiful landscapes and views that awaited us! It was truly breathtaking, with the town of Cape Town below and beaches and seas to be seen for miles in every direction! During our stay in Cape Town we also visited Cape Point and saw some native South African penguins! It was a great adventure that is definitely on the must list for anyone visiting South Africa!

Meanwhile, at the school, we had a workday to get tons done toward the library project! All four of us combined our skills to paint two walls of the library room and get some more headway on getting books organized and on the shelves for the students to enjoy! The teacher overseeing the library project was thrilled with the progress we made and expressed her delight to me that we were truly an answer to prayer for the library project that she has been trying to work on for over a year! 

For my personal school experience, I had the opportunity to shift from my time with Grade 7 to experience some of the younger grades. I spent a week with Grade 4 and then my last week with Grade 2. I loved being with the younger students just as much as I enjoyed being with the older ones, and I got to see how the classroom environments differed somewhat from grade to grade. The students also gave me some native South African food to try. Among my new adventures of food tasting were chicken feet, cow's intenstines, and the African potato. 

Our last day at the school was amazing and sad all at once! The students dressed in traditional Zulu attire and performed dancing for us to show some of the traditons of their culture. We were evenn invited to join in the dancing!  :) They also presented us with some gifts to thank us for our time spent with them, including our own Zulu jewelry! It was a bittersweet parting from our time with the students and teachers at Matshangule Primary School. Much was learned by me about their ways and their methods of teaching, and I truly feel that the Zulu culture is part of who I am now!

Posted by: baukemalm on 05/10/2018 - 10:08am

Today, Wednesday May 9th, Anna and I are flying back to the States. We will be back home in North Carolina Thursday afternoon. We spent our last few days in the UK traveling and making the most out of the time we had left. On Monday we look a bus ride to Bristol and did some sight seeing. I loved this city. It reminded me a lot of Boone. We saw a street named King Street and we some people slacklining! And it was 80 degrees all day long. We saw one of my favorite American country bands in concert, Brothers Osborne! It felt like a little bit of home. Then Tuesday we spent the morning in Bath. We went on a tour of the Roman Baths and walked around the historic city. Then we headed back to St. Albans.

I wrote this blog post on the plane ride home as I prepared myself for some major jet lag. I still can’t believe I’m about to graduate, but what a way to end college!

I learned a lot about teaching and the school systems in the UK. Private schools are much more popular and regardless most schools require their students to wear uniforms. At St. Albans High School for Girls (STAHS), education is a top priority. The girls are very academic and are held to very high standards. The goal is for all of the girls to go to university (or UNI as it is called there). A lot of students, up to 50% of the students at STAHS, take a gap year before going to university. The university system is also very strict. Students can only apply to five schools maximum.
Although in the states, standardized testing is a key component of classroom teaching, it is even more important in the UK. I don’t think I observed a single class where the teacher did not mention testing in some manor or another. Everyday the students were learning test taking skills and strategies for dealing with difficult or long questions. This applies to all classes, not just math.

The culture within STAHS itself is very different from that of American schools. The teachers usually eat lunch together, either in the lunchroom with the students or in one of the staff rooms. Speaking of staff rooms.. they aren’t just the place you go to make copies, they are places where teachers go to relax and have tea with their co-workers. It is a very different and welcoming environment. The staff room at STAHS of course wasn’t free of gossiping, but more times than not it was just a place to relax and catch up with other teachers and staff members.

Both inside and outside of the school there was always some sort of cultural experience taking place. Whether is was a simple thing like math being called maths or a large scale thing like the school uniforms, it was all so wonderful and such a great learning experience. Of course, the driving on the opposite of the road was new and took time to figure out which way to look when crossing the street. Even at home with my host family, I was always learning new things. Some vegetables have different names in the UK, the paper is a different size, corn dogs do not exist, and they don’t have ranch!!

Compared to field experiences in the US, my experience at STAHS was not that drastically different. I observed, walked around the classrooms talking to students, taught some, and got to know the teachers within the math department. Math is a pretty universal subject so the only thing really different was just the curriculum and pacing guides that are used. Other than that, math is math! One thing though that I did find very interesting is that the all the girls are put into “sets.” This means that they are in classes with people who are all at the same level. So one group might be low set and need more one-on-one attention and another group might be high set and be able to work on more challenging problems or activities. They do not have mixed ability classes. They start this process of putting the girls in sets at the prep school and of course sets can be rearranged depending on the growth of the girls academically.

Overall, I learned so much from this experience. I want to thank everyone who made this possible! I hope that I can share my experiences with my future students and I hope to encourage them to travel the world as well!

Posted by: allmanal1 on 05/10/2018 - 10:06am

Whew! The past few days have been a whirlwind! Trips to Bristol, Bath, and the flights to Boston, and now finally waiting to board for our flight to NC!

As I reflect on my time in St Albans and at STAHS specifically I’m drawn to several differences between the US and the British school systems. 50% of English students take a gap year before going to university. I really was surprised by this. Gap years are much less common in the US, but I really feel like more students could benefit from them. The British students take a year off to try something new before university. Their GCSE exams consume their last two years of school, and many students physically and mentally need a break before jumping into university. While US students don’t take GCSE exams, I really feel like giving students time to do something before university could be beneficial. 

Perhaps the biggest difference between US and English schools is how education is handled politically. In England, everything is handled by the national government. In America, education is left to the states. To be fair, America’s size makes national education harder than in England (and for everyone’s sake, I won’t even get into the different politics of each nation). The standardization of English education makes it much easier to move to a different school if you need to (though most students attend the school closest to them). 

STAHS in particular is much more academically focused than the school I was at in NC. I do not say that to hate on my NC school, it just is the truth. STAHS students pay a lot of money to attend. My NC school is identified as Title I- 56% of the students there are labeled as “economically disadvantaged”. This is not to say my students in NC are any less capable than the girls at STAHS. It just means their realities are very different. Their outside lives effect their school performance, and the home life of my NC students may have a more negative impact than my STAHS students. 

At STAHS, there are years 7-13, with about 130 girls per grade. Each grade is then split into groups (ie 9J and 9S are both Year 9 groups). These groups attend classes together for most of the day, but as they get older the students have more choice in what subjects to take. Further, STAHS has a house systems (students and staff are assigned randomly to a house upon entrance to the school, thought I looked everywhere for a Sorting Hat). This systems does not play into their daily life as often, but often is used in school wide competitions, such as Sports Day or House Song Competitions. 

In Sixth Form, Years 12 and 13, students only study 3 or 4 subjects, and the scores in their A Level tests at the end determine where they will go to university. Putting that much pressure on those girls was alarming to me. I am glad my NC students don’t have so much riding on so few tests. 

It was hard for me to gather how many UK students will not attend university after secondary school. At STAHS everyone was going to university, either right away or after a gap year. My host family was also very academically focused, so the son, though not quite to the A Levels yet, knew he wanted to go to university. In NC, a good portion of students will not attend a four year university. And that is ok. I believe it is foolish to believe everyone should go to college. Some people don’t want to, and further they don’t need to. We have a surplus of graduates with no real prospects, while high paying trade jobs sit unfilled. I have to wonder if England faced a similar problem. 

I cannot say one system of education is clearly better than the other. I am grateful to have experienced both and hope to take the best of both systems moving forward.

I hope future App students continue to go to STAHS and love it just as I did! Thank you ASU for this incredible opportunity!

Cheers, 

Anna Allman

Posted by: eichmanba on 05/09/2018 - 11:31am

Wow, I cannot believe that my time in Bray, Ireland has come to an end. It seems like just yesturday I was taking the long walk to Bray School Project full of both excitement and nerves. Now, I am incredibly shock my time there is over and also sad to leave. I felt so honored to be part of the Bray School Project family and will always be incredibly thankful for everything that they have taught me.

The day before our last day of teaching Principle Carol took Taylor and I and another student teacher from Spain out to coffee. She drove us on back country roads and gave us the history of Ireland and Wicklow County. It was such a beautiful drive and at one point we got stuck behind sheep on the road which was one of the most Irish things to happen on our trip. She took us to this beautiful old massive house that reminded me of the Irish version of the Biltmore. We sat outside on the porch to take advantage of the sunshine and dicussed the differences between the American,Irish, and Spain education systems. It was really cool to talk more in depth about the different education systems and compare them to North Carolina Public schools. 

Bray School Project is a smalll school but I think that is what helps make it so great. It is truly like a big family there and they are so welcoming to anyone who wants to experiance it. On our last day during lunch break Carol stood up and gave a sweet thank you speech to Taylor and I and then handed us an Irish necklace and a card signed by the whole staff. It was such a tender moment and I will forever be greatful for my time spent there. 

Thank you Ireland and Bray School Project for being so good to me. I learned more than I ever thought I would and I enjoyed every second of it. I'll be back! 

Posted by: rockleinjl on 05/09/2018 - 8:03am

Having the opportunity to be in the Wroxham School has definitely been eye-opening. They do things very differently than other schools in England and the United States. When talking with the teachers at the school, they told us that the Wroxham School is very progressive and other schools are working towards getting to where they are. One of the things I loved that they did at the Wroxham School was a brain break. They have multiple opportunities throughout the day where the students either go outside and play, just to get them moving. They also have a guided meditation, which lasts for about 5 minutes, to have the students calm down and get their minds to focus on what the task at hand is. I loved these breaks because I could truly see the impact it made on the students. Throughout the day, or after completing an assignment, the teachers asked the students to rate how they were feeling about the topic. They would either write a smiley face, an okay face, or a sad face on the top of their paper so the teacher could tell if they needed extra help, or if they were confident in the material. I will definitely take both of these strategies back and use them in my future classroom. 

 

Another interesting thing about the school as a whole is that they take any suggestion to heart. If a student has an idea, the school will try to make it a reality. For example, the school has a double decker bus in the playground area. The students wanted to make it their own so they created a competition where people could submit designs of what they wanted on the bus. The pictures that won are going to be painted on the bus soon. Another project that the students wanted to have was a radio channel. The school was able to make this a reality and now at break time the Year 6 students run the radio station for the playground to hear. I loved hearing these ideas and seeing how the school was able to make them a reality. I hope that in my future classroom/school I am able to be a sounding board for student ideas and make them a reality. 

 

 

Throughout my very short time abroad I have been able to travel to many different countries thus experiencing different cultures. I don’t think that I can give an accurate description of what the culture is like because I was only here for a short period of time but I can note some differences that I saw. One of the biggest things that I saw was the use of manners. Everyone that we came in contact with was so polite! They always used sir, ma’am, madam, please, thank you, you’re welcome, etc. It was an interesting change. The students were also incredibly polite. Another little thing that I noticed was that tea/coffee is a necessity. No matter where we went, we were always offered tea or coffee. As someone who doesn’t care for either, it was a little bit uncomfortable but thankfully it worked out just fine! 

 

This experience was similar to field experiences in the United States because we were observing in different classrooms and helping out in any way that we could. It was different because we were living in a new country, fully immersed in a new culture and environment and participating in an education system that is different than ours. Altogether I loved being able to participate in the International Student Teaching program. It was incredible to see how another country does education and how they do it differently. It was also incredible to live with a host family because this allowed me to experience more of the culture. 

Posted by: rockleinjl on 05/09/2018 - 7:53am

It’s strange to think that this adventure is coming to an end. The past few weeks have flown by and every minute has been an adventure. This week Anna and I were in Year 2 because they were completing their “end of grade test”. This test is similar to our end of grade tests but the test themselves do not weigh heavily on the students or the teachers. The tests are simply to determine if the students are making progress. It was interesting to see how different the testing is and what protocols they have in place. I really enjoyed being in Year 2 all week because it allowed me to see how their classroom functions, what the procedures are, and really connect with the students. On our last day there the students all made us cards with pictures of London, the Wroxham School, and any other things they thought we might like. It was adorable and wonderful! On Thursday of our last week Anna and I had the opportunity to go to London and go up in the London Eye! It was terrifying but beautiful! Afterwards we got to go to Shakespeare’s Globe and watch As You Like It. The play was absolutely incredible, and the Globe is stunning. 

 

On Saturday morning Anna and I set out on our final adventure – France. We boarded the Eurostar about mid-morning and headed to our Airbnb by Disneyland Paris. Our host was phenomenal. On Sunday morning she made us breakfast and then drove us to Disneyland – way above and beyond what she could have done. When we got to Disneyland it was a dream come true. It was fun to compare Disneyland Paris to Disney world in Orlando because this one is so much smaller! It also does not have very many rides, and has a parade every few hours! It was fun to watch the parade because the characters get so close to you, even give you high-fives! The theme going around the park was Princesses vs. Pirates so the parade came in to the center from two different sides and then met in the middle for a big show. It was so fun; by the end of the day we had the song (and some of the dance) memorized. After spending the day there we headed to our Airbnb in Paris. Unfortunately Paris did not start off on a very good note as my phone got stolen. Thankfully Anna quickly thought of using the App “Find my Iphone” and we were able to track it down! It was honestly something out of a movie because I never thought I would find it ever again. After finding my phone we went to the Eiffel Tower and sat and watched it sparkle for a while. It is so incredibly beautiful and a much needed break after our awful start. The next day (Monday) we were able to go explore Paris! We went to Notre Dame Cathedral, put a best friend lock on the love lock bridge, saw the Louvre and Moulin Rouge, walked down the Champs-Elysees and saw the Arc de Triomphe. We finished the day by eating pasta while watching the sun go down behind the Eiffel Tower. Paris was an adventure and definitely worth a trip back. 

 

                   

 

After 12,834+ miles, we are on our last journey home. I loved my time abroad but cannot wait to be home with my family. This trip has definitely made me realize how much of a “home-body” I really am. The adventures have been phenomenal but I cannot wait to sleep in my own bed, spend time with my family and see my cat! 

Posted by: kramermg on 05/08/2018 - 5:15pm

Well, that's it folks. It is officially time to wrap up this entire adventure. I am currently sitting in the airport as I write this, trying to reflect on all of the wonderful things that I experienced while working in Room 13. The experience was truly magical, and I would not trade it for anything. I loved how unique the program was, and I loved that my inner artist shown through. Though I am not an art education major, which might be more towards what this program is geared for, I can still see the profound impact this experience will have on me as a teacher. Learning to truly appreciate art in all its forms, and embracing it in the classroom despite one's belief of their artistic ability is so important. I learned how fufilling it is to come out of one's comfort zone and embrace activites and situations that you might not be familiar with. I valued Room 13's ability to get their students thinking about their projects and materials; to ultimately get them thinking about the world they live in. I love that Room 13 encourages such owenrship of one's thoughts and ideas, ultimately making students feel free and proud to express themselves in ways that they can relate to and make sense of.

While Room 13 is not a classroom, and the artist residents are not "teachers", I saw so much of an atmosphere and environment that I would love to have present in my own classroom. This experience helped me break out of my comfort zone while learning how to incorporate artistis expression into my own teaching. I truly value this experience, and am so thankful for this journey I was lucky enough to partake in. Room 13, I will miss you.

Posted by: kramermg on 05/08/2018 - 5:06pm

Our final week teaching has officially started to commence. It's sad thinking about that our time here in Fort William is almost over. This is especially true bcause I feel as though we truly connected with the kids and the staff right as we're getting ready to say good bye. I have loved every minute of this, and am not ready to say good bye to our newly found friends just yet.

After the creative gathering took place, the following week was focused on continuing to build off of the relationships that were strengthened during the creative gathering. I think Richard and the rest of the team really thought it was a success, which means that it should continue in the coming years. It was a wonderful way to be creative in the studio while also getting to know one another a little more in depth. Monday kicked off our week with our typical schedule. However, we were allowed to arrive slightly later because Richard had a meeting, so Kaitlyn and I spent the beautiful sunny morning exploring the ruins of the Inverlochy Castle. It was absolutely gorgeous, and so amazing to witness considering how old the castle is. Once we got to the studio, we followed our usual routine of working with the Studio Assistants and the Young Adults Project. Kaitlyn and I used this time to really dive into our own projects to ensure they were finished in time. 

The rest of the week was mostly very routine, and incredibly lovely. The classes that we were used to volunteering in were so kind to us and gave us a beautfiul good bye. We took pictures with the kids, and promised that a gradutation photo of us both would be coming their way. On Friday, Kaitlyn and I accompanied Robert to his Room13 project at one of the surrounding high schools. Unfortunately, we hit a bit of a snag when Robert couldn't find his keys, but it was lovely getting to know the kiddos despite the obstacle we ran into. We even helped gather feedback on the program for Robert, so that he would know how to continue in the future. Then, our fun really began. Robert was incredibly kind enough to spend the entire day with Kaitlyn and myself, since it was our last weekend. We went to one of the local beaches in Arisaig, and were able to see the islands across the bay. We also visited Glenfinnan, and saw the viadcut with the true Harry Potter Express going across in perfect time. We were lucky to have such a thoughtful tour guide. The rest of the day consisted of shopping and sitting in a local cafe until we went to the local pub and had a few drinks before meeting up with Richard. It was such a lovely evening, and truly wonderful getting to know our colleagues outside of the studio. 

After Saturday, we spent our time with Felicity and getting ready to pack. I am so sad to leave, but also very much looking forward to graduation and witnessing the influence that Room 13 will have on me as a future teacher!

Posted by: klingerkd on 05/07/2018 - 3:43pm

Our last few days have been so wonderful and gone by so quickly. On our last day of teaching we went with one of the artists, Robert, to visit students in a nearby town who participate in a Room 13 program with Robert at their high school. To help Robert, we interviewed the students to see how they felt about how the program was going. They all had glowing reviews and really seemed to love working with Room 13. Robert comes to the high school once a week to be able to make art and work with the students there. This gives them a chance to work with Room 13 with out having to drive so far to the actual studio. The students love having a place to be creative and feel like they can be and express themselves. It was really nice hearing how much the students seemed to love the program and how much it meant to them to have a comfortable place to go and be themselves. 

On Saturday, we spent most of the day out with Robert. He was our tour guide of Fort William and took us to the Glenfinnan and the beach! At the Glenfinnan Viaduct we were able to see the train they use in Harry Potter go along the track they show in the movie! We also loved the beach and we were convinced it was the same beach the brought Dobby to in the last movie. We then went back to town and met up with Richard (another artist from Room 13) and Sarah at a local pub. We had an awesome time and stayed till the pub closed! It was a great way to end our time in Fort William.

We are now in Edinburgh spending the night and getting ready for our flight that leaves tomorrow. It will be a long day of travel but definitely worth it when we finally get back home! It was very sad leaving Felicity and Sylvin though and I really hope that we can all stay in contact. This experience has been a whirlwind and so exciting. I have seen and learned so much. I have meant wonderful people and visited breathtaking places. While this trip has been amazing though, I am also so excited to come back home and finally graduate!

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