Volunteer Teacher Recalls her Greek Classroom Adventure
You can become part of a team of volunteer teachers and students in Crete. When you help the children of Malevizi with their English skills, you experience their culture through their lives and interests. Val, a Greece Volunteer, shares her journal entry recalling two unforgettable weeks of “summer language camp” with eager Greek students:
“As our time here is coming to an end, I look back and can’t believe how far we all have come from that very first day. I remember on that Monday we didn’t know exactly how we would connect with the children and be able to provide meaningful service. We needn’t have worried!
On the first Tuesday, we settled in and felt a little more comfortable as we got to know the students and each other. By Wednesday, the team was on a roll in all classrooms. The consensus was we had very bright classes of students – and we must be well-prepared to engage them. What’s more, we certainly had to stay on our toes – or shall I say “foot-fingers” as one student thought they were called!”
Val said volunteers taught four hours of English lessons each morning, from 9am to 1pm, Monday through Friday. In the afternoon, they prepared lessons for the following day. The resources and teaching tools are varied: Worksheets, arts and craft projects, songs, stories, games and sports. The summer spirit of fun dominates each day’s activities.
Val continues: “We found the ‘special formula’ that worked — two periods of structured learning followed by an outside learning activity (kickball, 4 square, Duck-Duck-Goose, red light-green light and more) and a final period of working in small groups. Every day became easier, and the lessons started to flow naturally. Trust was built, friendships were formed, connections were made, lots of fun was had, and learning actually happened!
As the week continued, the students flourished as we guided them through learning the parts of the body, identifying things they would find in different rooms of their homes, practicing proper sentence structure, introducing spatial words, and finally learning new songs.”
After the weekend flew by, the volunteers were eager to return to the classroom. They shared lesson plans based on activities in the Global Volunteers Conversational English Teach Guide, and leveraged their combined creativity in coming up with new ways to engage the students. “By the end of the second week, Val observed, “we felt as if we all really did connect and provide meaningful service. The quiet girl learned to yell out an answer, the mischievous boy learned that s-e-x was not an appropriate word to spell with the scrabble tiles, and the brightest students assisted their classmates with challenging concepts. As we encouraged their learning, we saw them encourage each other. ”
Perhaps most important Val concluded, was that the team spirit that imbued the volunteer group extended throughout the classroom. “I was delighted with one especially helpful little girl. After giving a bit too much assistance to her classmate, I asked her to please let him try an exercise on his own. In reply, she looked up and said, ‘But Miss, we team!”
Join a team of students and volunteers in a summer camp this year! See program dates and details, then talk with one of our volunteer coordinators: 800-487-1074.
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