Hällo from The Hague!
We are missing all of you TCU friends and wish you were here to experience everything. This week has been incredible and I cannot believe that I get to experience this. We are having the time of our life here while learning so much. Hannah and I are at the Valkenbos Montessori school in The Hague, Netherlands. It is about 3.5 miles from our condo. We quickly learned the first day that we needed to rent a bike. Now we are biking about 10 miles each day. The Dutch lifestyle is quite healthy!
Hannah and I are in love with the Valkenbos Montessori. Mr. Erik is the teacher who invited us TCU students to teach at Valkenbos. He has been quite helpful during our stay, while teaching us about the Dutch culture and education system. Mr. Erik hosted Hannah and I at his house for a Dutch dish that his wife cooked for us. His wife and him also took Hannah and I on a tour of The Hague Saturday afternoon. They have been incredibly hospitable to us and we are thankful for them.
Mr. Erik teaches groups 6,7,8. Students start at Valkenbos at age 4 (Group 1) and stay until age 12 (Group 8). There is the OB group which is groups 1-2, MB group 3-5, and BB group 6-8. The students, teachers and staff at Valkenbos are welcoming and have engaged us in the education process at the school. We are lucky to be able to experience all groups. Mr. Erik had the teachers sign up for Hannah and I to be in their classrooms each day. We feel like we know the whole school in 1 short week! We are very excited because we get to go on our first field trip this Thursday to the Space Museum.
Hannah and I are eager to get back to the United States and start implementing some of the teaching techniques in to our Fort Worth schools. We are amazed at how motivated, advanced, and determined the teachers and students are. My favorite part of this trip is getting to watch the self- motivated students work hard at such a young age. The teachers guide the students, but all the students make their own learning plan for the week. The students decide what, when, and how they are going to learn that week based off of the teacher's choices.Hannah's favorite part is watching the interaction between teachers and students. It has been great to watch the teachers motivate the students to learn in an authentic way.
The Valkenbos students do not learn English until group 7. Most students only know Dutch, while a handful know English from their parents or TV shows. We are getting to practice a lot of ESL strategies that I learned in Dr. Pryzmus' course. We are able to still teach some english lessons to small groups. We have been playing a game where the students receive a sticky- note that has the name of an object around the room. The students then have to place the sticky note on the correct object around the class. We try to incorporate english through out the day while also learning a lot of new Dutch words thanks to the students.
We are loving our time here in The Hague. We are so fortunate to be at the Valkenbos school with such great teachers who are able to teach us so much. I cannot believe it has only been one week, yet we have learned so much.
We look forward to the next few weeks.
Sarah Casabona/Hannah Heurlin