Not all those who wander are lost.

Miss Katie vs. Italian 3rd Graders – Rounds 2-3

After the chaos that ensued in Week 1, I was dreading Week 2 with my class of third graders. The optimist in me said, “Yes, week 1 was hell, but surely it can only get better from here.” The pessimist in me said, “You have got to be out of your freaking mind to step back in that classroom.” The realist in me said, “It doesn’t matter how the lesson goes, it’s 50 euro for an hour of your time. You have to do it.”

I am not a quitter; I’m too stubborn and too competitive to admit defeat. After an appropriate amount of sulking, whining, and procrastination (approx. 5.5 days), I dragged myself to my desk to start planning the lesson for Week 2: Animals.

While the memory of that first day is a bit of a blur, I did make two mental notes that would assist with planning future lessons. First is that the kids had a ridiculous amount of energy. Therefore any activity which involved getting them out of their seats was teacher suicide; they’d be too wound up to sit back down. The second is that they LOVED anything that had to do with markers.

So I made worksheets, lots and lots of worksheets. Crossword puzzles, word searches, matching games, coloring activities. Anything to distract them and keep them in their seats. Better yet, they could take these worksheets home to Pappa and Mamma to show them how much they “learned” in English.

Also important was the fact that I adjusted my expectations of myself. One hour once a week is not enough time to really teach much of anything. The kids study english with their normal Italian teacher, so my job is simply to work on their pronunciation and get them accustomed to the American accent. So as long as I hear a few English words spoken throughout the hour, it’s a job well done.

So despite every self-preservation instinct telling me not to go back to that school, I walked into that classroom for Round 2 of Miss Katie vs. Italian 3rd Graders…

And I am proud to say I won. The kids were enthusiastic about learning new words, entertained by the silly animal flashcards, and excited to show their parents the drawings they made of their favorite animals. The hour flew by and I didn’t even need my Plan B!

As for Week 3, the topic was Halloween – which is known but not celebrated in Italy. But what 8-year old doesn’t like ghosts, witches, and vampires?!?!  I had the kids draw their own Haunted Houses and write a few spooky sentences to go with it. Again, they were on task and well-behaved.

After 3 weeks it’s Miss Katie: 2, Italian 3rd Graders: 1. I am cautiously optimistic and hopeful my winning trend continues throughout the year.

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