In your hands

My life as a teacher of English and other curiosities

Would you like some help?

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Do you sometimes feel tired dealing with all of your students in your classes? Do you ever find yourself wishing there was someone else there with you? Do you ever wish you had four hands and four eyes and two heads?

Well I’ve got the solution my fellow teachers all over Europe: it’s called Comenius Assistantships for student teachers and you can give it a try too!

I first heard about this program by my colleague Gerry Mavrokefalos who had already hosted a few teacher assistants in his class, from various countries. It works like this: EU funds a young teacher to come to your country and work along with you in your school for a school year or a term. The assistant teachers are usually young people who have acquired all the necessary qualifications but haven’t had a lot of teaching experience.

For them it is a great opportunity to work with a more experienced teacher, to see how different educational systems work, to learn in practice.

For the teachers that host them, it is a good chance to work with assistantship, something extremely valuable in some situations, imagine how easier it would be to have an assistant when you have a class of 25 uproarious teenagers in secondary school or a smaller class of rackety children of different levels on top of that. Sometimes even having a second adult there to share the difficulties seems a great idea.

As for the students I think they are the ones who benefit most from the situation: There is real intrinsic motivation to communicate with this person who really doesn’t speak our native language and doesn’t pretend not to, like us NNESTS do.

This year there are two assistant teachers in the area of Karditsa, Dina from Estonia and Katja from Finland. A couple of weeks ago we arranged a visit to our school and Dina came to see how primary English teaching works. Our experience was amazing. In just a few minutes children who were reluctant to exchange even the basic hellos with me, wanted to ask her a million questions. And the influence continued the following days when they prepared questions for next time.

This week we are planning another visit along with Katja in order to share Christmas crafts and stories! I am really looking forward to it. I must say that I was also reluctant to the idea of hosting a teacher not as far as the educational part is involved but because I imagined it would take a lot of extra time to help the assistant adapt in Greek reality. But I have seen it work and I have realized that for the people that come here, part of the adventure is to live in a foreign country. These young people don’t need a nanny, they need a mentor, someone to welcome them into their classes. And this I can do. From what I hear though these situations end up in long lasting friendships which is another perk of the whole setup!

So if you want to find more information about the program you can click here. If you are an educator who has hosted a trainee teacher don’t hesitate to share your experience and if you are a trainee teacher please share your thoughts too!

4 Comments

  1. Having hosted three other Comenius assistants in the past, and currently hosting Dina, I can heartily recommend the experience to all colleagues, current or future.

  2. OMG! Anna, That’s a really great post. Thank you so much for sharing the experience with everybody else. The whole thing worked out excellently. It was my pleasure! I also wrote about our great experience on my blog (dinochka.blogspot.com), which is unfortunately in Russian. But google translate will help you with the general idea 😀
    So I see you’re ready to apply for an assistant this January, aren’t you?

  3. Thank you both for commenting here and of course for inviting me to share the experience of the assistant teacher. Theory and practice are very different sometimes and this time practice has made all the difference to me.

  4. Great post Anna! Keep working as you set a very good example! Thank you!

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