“Hello, I’m the crazy teacher.”
“Oh? What grade do you teach?”
“Oh well, that explains why you’re crazy!”
And with this exchange, I established an immediate connection with a fellow teacher here in Greece and had a wonderful laugh that only people who have taught sixth grade can share.
I had the great joy of visiting two schools today- a school for preK-elementary aged children with special needs and a general education public elementary school. In both schools, I was welcomed and reminded of how universal good teaching is- and how kids are kids no matter the language or the culture. My most sincere thanks to Dr. Ioannis Dimakos who toured me around, providing translations and explanations and who shares a deep love of children.
I was welcomed by the principal of the special school and was reminded once again how important it is to have a strong, visionary principal. She showed me around and I got a chance to hug children, and see all of the various therapies that are offered with an emphasis on real-world skills, even with very little ones.
I shared my pain of writing the Greek alphabet with one child and observed how teachers would adapt reading instruction for the varying levels of the children. These are children who, despite having limited legal protections, have strong advocates in their teachers and administrators. A school is only as good as their teachers- and I saw the dedication, strength and humor that is the hallmark of strong educators. The school had a very small student-teacher ratio, and I never saw a child “lost” in the melee of the classroom. All were engaged either in small groups or directly with an adult. Except for the one child who was having a melt down, and even he was in a pile of pillows and sponges where he could see and hear the rest of the classroom. Alone, but not isolated.
What is your name?
Where are you from?
How are you?
Questions I was asked when I was mobbed by a group of seven-year olds who wanted to welcome me and to try out their English. I was vastly entertained because my Greek extends to the same questions they asked me:
Πως σε λενε;
Απο που εισαι;
“Do you feel famous?” asked my guide- Anastacia, 7 years old, who speaks English very fluently and was a student in Ms. Resvani’s classroom. Vasiliki Resvani is a second grade teacher who is one of the most amazing teachers I’ve seen (and she happens to be married to Dr. Dimakos!). She helped her students learn English, practice handwriting, and prepared for an upcoming field trip to the main Plaza of Patra by having students prepare a “Welcome book” for me. The children were to practice their English writing and include their drawing of what they wanted to share about Patra.
I am pretty sure I did an exact copy of this picture when I was seven… complete with hearts.
I particularly love how the rain clouds look like the octopi in the sea.
This kid likes flags. I love the inclusion of the US and Greek flags… although I’m not certain what flag the boat is flying. Ghana? Ethiopia? Mozambique?
What I love about this one is that his/her work was included as well. This work was just as valued and appreciated as everyone else’s.
Good teachers everywhere love their children. Great teachers everywhere work to include and value every child. I was humbled and honored to be able to be reminded that great teaching is not limited to a particular culture, a particular socio-economic level or even a particular language. I was reminded that great teaching focuses on helping a child communicate to a broadening world.
I will treasure my book. It will remind me that while so much can be different, great teachers are universal. Even if they’re “crazy”!