by Kate: Yesterday was the last day that we were in schools and I feel like we have established a real connection with the teachers and students that hopefully will continue after we are home. I think that the initial reactions and assumptions by the schools when we came to them was that we were here to critique and fix the teaching styles of the teachers and were somehow here to evaluate them. This idea quickly went away when we started to present our games and science engineering activities as it became known that we were actually here to collaborate and learn from Georgians as well as having them learn from us.
There have been many social and personal skills that the Georgian teachers incorporate into their lessons that are just as important as the content that the children are learning. I have seen the teachers instill respect for classmates and for learning in their students. Even with the language barrier I could see how engaged the students were in all of the classrooms that we visited. Also, there were very few discipline problems because all of the students were so interested in what they were learning that they simply wanted to be in school and wanted to learn. I hope to bring this enthusiasm for learning to my classroom someday and inspire kids to learn at the same level as these Georgian teachers.
The emotional support that the schools give to their students is something that I really have enjoyed. Through observing and conversing with teachers and principals on their philosophies, we have gathered that they treat all of their students as family, and this attitude makes for an atmosphere that allows all of the students to focus on their education. The school gives emotional support to their students and allows things such as hugs from teachers and positive feedback that let the students feel safe and comfortable at school so that they can focus on their studies. I really liked the philosophy that the schools have when it came to the student’s relationship with their school. They strive for a connected school and believe that this connectedness provides a superior atmosphere for learning. It would be interesting if we could incorporate student support in this way in the U.S.
In relation to the answers I was looking for when we came here two weeks ago, I feel like I have learned a lot about the type of science learning that is in place in Georgian schools. Integrated science lessons occur in the primary grades that focus on gaining basic science knowledge that will prepare students for later science classes and eventually the national exams that they take at the end of high school. The type of science classes seem to vary between schools, however, overall I can see one clear difference between the science taught in Georgia and the science lessons taught at home. The science lessons taught here are taught in a way that relates science to everyday life. The nature classrooms that I observed focused on hygiene and recycling, two different topics that in the U.S. we also teach. However, here there was a stronger sense that the reason the students were studying these topics was to develop knowledge that would help them in their lives. This is different than how a lot of schools in the U.S. teach science as we often give a broad overview of scientific concepts without always connecting them to the importance they have in our everyday lives. This connected teaching is something that I hope to incorporate in my future teaching as well.
Overall I am very thankful and proud after completing our work here. I think that we have achieved our goals of collaboration as well as really seen and experienced many things that are unique to Georgian culture. I am thankful that I was able to experience these and was given the opportunity to make relationships and learn new ideas from many effective educators.
Below are some pictures from the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade classrooms that we visited at Lepl 1st Experimental School. Click on the pictures to read the captions that explain each one.
We'd like to thank the young followers of our blog. They come from Mrs. Holt's first grade class in Raynham, MA, and Mrs. Kunkle's kindergarten class in Plymouth, MA. Mrs. Holt's class put together a slide show of what their classroom looks like for Mrs. Glen to show the Georgian students: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDnCJc4sbo0. Mrs. Kunkle's class learned about the location and flag of Georgia from Mr. Parmenter, one of the BSU students on the trip.