Phyllis is a retired 65 year old from Sarasota, Florida.
Her love of teaching and Italy brought her to GeoVisions' Volunteer Teach Abroad In Italy program. She spends her days teaching English at an Italian elementary school, and nights with her amazing host family.
Below are two excerpts from Phyllis' journal.
My first day of class to teach abroad. Hardly slept last night. Brought too much teaching stuff: ESL worksheets, books, etc. Overwhelming. Didn't know what to expect, so over prepared.
Working with Giovanna last night, Finally decide on favorite book of Laura, Mark, Janelle and Sarah: "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom". Teaches the alphabet via a fun rhyming story. Turns out to be a huge hit with third-grade class, chanting long after I've gone to next session.
With fourth graders, Sports Illustrated magazine and lots of family photos of life in the U.S. are a big hit.
Of course, each class started with students asking me questions. The first question always? "How old are you?" My answer: "troppo anni." Then the onslaught... Where do you live, What's your favorite food, What baseball, football, basketball team do you like, Who's your favorite singer? Thanks to an informal survey of those much younger, I was prepared for that last one -- and lied... Justin Bieber, Arianna Grande, Adele. Si, si...
Today is typical of the rest of the week: 8:30 start with Giovanna's second-graders. Work with her or other English language teachers on all subjects, including gym. Home at 1:00 for noon meal.
Students are great. Very enthusiastic, even rowdier than in the U.S. Same mix of smart, shy, ringleader, troublemaker, lonesome soul. Once I'm interacting with them, I'm fine.
Italian? Stumbling along, often too tired to remember the basics. Old brain just won't rally.
Walk a lot in cold spring rain. Nice dinner at Giovanna's mom's house. Walk home. Exhausted.
It's Wednesday, my third day of school to teach abroad. Getting more challenging, but still love the kids.
I am teaching USA geography to small groups in Giovanna's class, 30-minute session, then next group of 5. While I do this, Giovanna continues her teaching with rest of class.
I have a small, simple map of the U.S. (purchased at a thrift shop in the U.S.) I show them major cities (NCY, SF, LA, Washington, and Sarasota (because that's where I'm from).
I help each student make a book about the United States of America ... Written By (their name).
New York is first... Skyscrapers, Central Park, subway.... These are the words and visuals.
They are amazed at the 40-story building where we lived and our view.
It is very hard to teach without being able to fully understand their questions. I'm winging it. They seem happy. Hope they are learning.
I LOVE helping them. Most are wide-eyed and wanting to please and learn. It is especially wonderful to see the so called "under dogs" thrive with a little attention. Of course, there are the troublemakers who thrive on their disruption.
I am writing this from a pizzeria. Giovanna has gone to Ancona for a workshop. Alice is with her father. I am alone!!!