ESL Life Abroad - Crystal Powell
My visit to an American school in Nashville
Before I start my column this time, let me introduce my mother-in-law. Her name is Kathleen Powell and she has devoted 19 years to American education. With her help, countless children have progressed in their education. Currently, she is teaching first grade in a public primary school called Inglewood in Nashville. I would appreciate her for letting me visit her school a couple of times and observe classes. As a former teacher, that intrigues me a lot. Through observation, I have found something rather interesting in her class. I would like to share my opinions with you today.
A typical day in her school
Last Friday, I had a chance to visit her school again. A normal school day starts at 7:45 AM with the arrival of the kids and ends at 2:45 PM. Kathleen always goes to school one hour earlier to make sure everything is ready before classes. What a responsible teacher she is! Last Friday wasn’t an exception. Her classroom is the most beautiful classroom I had ever seen. There were color pictures of animals and plants, maps, vocabulary chart, math chart, and all sorts of things. It wowed me the first time I went. I wish I could have learned in one of these classrooms when I was young. All of the things in the class made me want to learn more.
Big, yellow school buses picked up the kids from their houses at different places in the city and sent them to school. By the way, the United States has very strong, strict laws and rules about their school buses. Some of them include: if you happen to drive behind the bus, you have to be 10 feet from it; when there are two-way roads, all the cars have to stop on the opposite lane to let kids pass through the road. Otherwise, you can get a big fine!
After the kids arrived, the principal announced the main agenda through a speaker for that day. Then, all the kids recited the Pledge of Allegiance together with their right hand over heart, which is:
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
It is an expression of loyalty to the federal flag and the republic of the United States of America.
After that, the kids continued to the school pledge, which is:
I am responsible for all my actions and behavior today; I will listen, do my work, and learn; I will respect the feelings, property, and rights of others; I will be a good citizen by doing what is safe, because it is the right thing to do.
Before they started the first class, the kids had to share something about themselves and others asked questions about it or expressed their opinions on it.
School subjects include reading, writing, math, science, art, PE, and music. The kids always have reading and writing in the morning and math in the afternoon. Kathleen teaches reading, writing, math, and science. Other subjects rotate every day through the week. Most class activities are based on group work. Actually, school desks were arranged into different groups, so the kids could discuss together. Kathleen also pulled different groups to her desk to teach, while other kids did their own projects. For example, she first called the top students to her and they read difficult books and then the lower group read something easier. All the school books were ranked into different levels from one to higher. First graders should be on Level 8. However, some students can be at level 10 and others on level 5 in the class.
Christmas is coming, so in order to celebrate it, they also called last Friday the “Polar Express Day”. They read the book Polar Express (极地特快) in the morning and watched the movie in the afternoon drinking hot coco with marshmallows on top. I helped to make the drink. It smelled so good. I also assisted making jingle bells for the kids because the boy in the story got one from Santa Claus. They loved the gifts. It was so much fun!
At the end of the day, they had something called “intervention.” Kids of different learning abilities went to different teachers to learn for about 30 minutes. Sometimes they read and other times they talked about character building, which means how to be a good person. Then, the kids lined up for the school buses that would take them home. What an interesting and busy day!
What I think of American education:
Americans definitely focus on several things more than Chinese. Some of them include:
在我开始之前，请允许我介绍一下我的岳母。她叫凯瑟琳·鲍威尔,她已经为美国教育贡献了19年。在她的帮助下,无数的孩子取得了不同程度的进步。目前,她在纳什维尔的一所公立小学Inglewood教一年级。我很感谢她能给我机会拜访他的学校并观摩她的课堂。曾经身为一名教师的我, 这样的机会很吸引我。通过观察, 我发现她课堂上一些非常有趣的东西。今天我想与大家一同分享一下我的想法。
黄色的大校车从城市不同地方，接到孩子们并送他们来上学。顺便说一句, 对学校巴士，美国有非常强大,严格的法律和规定。其中包括:如果你碰巧行驶在学校巴士后,你必须保持10英尺的距离;在双向道路上, 反方向车道上的所有的车必须停下来,让孩子们从巴士上下来，穿过马路。否则,你会收到一大笔罚金!
我宣誓忠于美国国旗, 以及它所代表的共和国, 一个在上帝庇佑下，不可分割的国家, 人人享有自由和公正。