Cody mainly taught math, physics, and chemistry to fourth year students (students were 16-17 years of age). He planned activities in the chemistry and physics labs that were relevant and applicable to reality. His fellow teachers were welcoming and very open to Cody's teaching style. "I tried to engage my students whenever possible." Cody explains. "I wanted learning to be student-centered, so I tried to serve as a facilitator instead of a lecturer." Cody asked the students questions during the lessons and assigned them individual problems to work through in order to measure their progress.
The language and cultural barriers were difficult for Cody to overcome. "When I first began teaching, I realized that my students were not always following what I was saying," he says. "I learned to talk slower, write more on the board, and use PowerPoints. I also took Italian language classes and culture lessons to improve my communication."
Identifying lesson objectives was another challenge for Cody. "I browsed through several Italian textbooks to figure out the specific objectives that I was expected to cover. I also shared my lessons with the instructor, prior to presenting, to confirm that we were on the same page."
Cody's advice for future students
- Try your best to find out the specific material you are teaching ahead of time.
- Be prepared for any surprises that may come your way regarding teaching or otherwise.
- Familiarize yourself with the Italian language and culture prior to your trip. It will pay off.
- Do not be afraid to be completely honest with your host family, students, and teachers. Italians are direct and are not easily offended.