Student teaching abroad is now ranked in the top five best decisions I have made as a student at Iowa State University. I was given the opportunity to work with extremely dedicated high school students and together we engaged in mathematics that tested our critical thinking and problem solving abilities. Along with seeing a different side of teaching, I also experience a different side of living as I traveled around Central Europe.
While I was teaching in Poland, I learned that so much can be communicated without the use of spoken language. Even though some of the teachers and staff at the school didn't speak English, we were still able to develop a relationship with them. And sure, the language barrier did make it more difficult, but not impossible.
There are so many memorable experiences to pick the top one, but one of my favorite memories was during our time in Prague, Czech Republic. During one of the nights we were there, we went down to the common area to hangout and talk with some new friends we met earlier that day. We ended up jamming out and singing songs with people from Germany, Serbia, and Slovakia. I remember thinking how cool it was that music had brought us all together.
What did you not expect?
Something that surprised me was the math "curriculum" the high school students went through. Instead of learning only geometry their second year of high school, they part of each year learning it. So their students were learning algebra, geometry, trigonometry throughout their high school years. This way of teaching allows students to retain information year after year and places importance on the difference domains of mathematics building upon each other.
What advice would you give?
If you decide to student teach abroad (which you should), it will be one of the best decision you will make. The experience will be unlike any other classroom experience you have had and you will learn so much. Plus, you get to travel! I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who was considering it.
How has this experience impacted your life?
When you live outside of your comfort zone, you will experience life changing moments. There were numerous times where I was put outside of my comfort zone, especially since I knew very little Polish. However, it was during those times that I learned the most about myself as a person and as a teacher. I learned new ways to teach mathematics to students who don't speak English as their native language. I also learned that it is important to take time to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the little things in life.
How did you learn about this experience?
I first learned about student teaching abroad at the student teaching fair.International Connections