Kent State COST, 2018-2019
Front row: Kennedy (SPED), Eden (SPED), Megan (Art Education), Michela (SPED).
Back row: Liz (ECED), Brooke (ECED), Michele (Art Education), Alyssa (MCED), Dana (ECED), Dr. Marty Lash.
Fall of 2016 Travelers
Student name: Justine D
Placement: Auckland, New Zealand
Student name: Morgan G
Placement: Perth, Australia
View Morgan's blog
Student name: Emily B
Student name: Susannah
Placement: New Zealand
View Susannah's blog
Student name: Chris C
Placement: New Zealand
View Chris's photos
Student name: Heather E
Placement: Merida, Mexico
Read about Heather's experiences
Student name: Zack
"This has been single-handedly the most frustrating, work-intensive, extensive, cultural, and overall best learning experience of my life! I cannot put into words the experiences and vast opportunities a program such as COST opens up for you. COST gives you something you will never get staying at home; a real opportunity to learn another culture as well as practice your teaching in a completely new learning environment.
"I would have never have met teachers and students from places such as Australia, France, Germany, China, Scotland, Britain, Brazil, and Spain without taking the leap. I would have never possible made teacher friends who have worked internationally in places such as Japan, Spain, Canada, and Saudi Arabia, and many more who will continue receiving opportunities to go places such as Taiwan, Germany, South Africa, and China. A placement through COST means opportunity. Not simply opportunity for you, but also opportunity for your own future students. Whether I choose to take an opportunity to work in places such as Taiwan (Job openings have already been forwarded my way) or not, I will inevitably take back a better worldly knowledge back to my classroom so that I can ensure my own students are not simply knowledgeable of their own home, but of much of the world. Find your inner explorer and get out there!
"For those of you who do not need me to convince you that this is one of the best opportunities for you as a student and teacher, I recommend you to do three simple things before you leave and while you are away. First, do as much research as possible about your area, and take care of every little thing back home (bank accounts, taxes, doctors' appointments, insurance, etc.) Do this so you do not spend most of your time away freaking out about possible problems at home… cause when you are a thousand miles away, frantically skyping your sibling to then get your parents to get the bank to unfreeze your account can be a worst nightmare (Too specific to have just come up with? Yes… it is.) Secondly, try to speak the host-country's language as much as possible. Not only is this seen as an attempt by you to get into the culture and an offer of good faith, but it is also a great way to learn a language. No better way than from the people who speak it! Thirdly, and lastly, learn to take every chance or opening to get involved while away. It can be very lonely sitting at your home at the computer doing homework or messaging friends and family constantly. Nobody learns culture in isolation. Remember this… you are always too busy to do something, but if you never make the time, you will always be too busy to do anything.
"I sincerely hope those reading this will choose to student teach through COST. It is not easy, and I will not attempt to portray it as otherwise. But teaching is not easy. The life of those who develop curriculum, and research, and teach, and coach, and counsel, and care for the well-being of each and every child we meet is not easy. But it is one of the most rewarding jobs anyone could have. Experiences through COST are changing my life for the better, and will no doubt do the same for you."
Student name: Ellyn
Placement: Perth, Australia
"I have now been at Belmont City College in Perth, Australia for 6 weeks. The time has definitely flown by, as cliche as that sounds. Australia is a beautiful country full of people with great attitudes and out looks on life. I feel like I am learning here every day, and I will be a much more adaptable teacher at the end of this COST experience. I did not realize how different Australian school systems and curriculum were from American school systems until I arrived. There are still things that come up that confuse me. I am teaching in geography classes, and they cover much more practical and environmental geography than human and cultural that I am used to in the United States, so I have been brushing up on those skills! I also am teaching Australian geography, which is something I knew next to nothing about! They call social studies "Society and the Environment" and they do not separate the subjects each year; for example in years 8-10, they will split the term taking geography, history, economics, and culture in one year. The grading system is quite different, students wear uniforms, the discipline procedures were new to me, the daily schedule, and the year schedule were all things I have adapted to understanding. The diversity at my school is one of my favorite parts; two of my classes are completely English as a Second Language classes, and I love working with them and understanding more about my language and culture and how I teach through their struggles and questions. They all bring such a unique perspective to the classroom. It is really great to be able to learn and understand a completely new education system, as it brings perspective on the American system. The students have all been very polite and impressive, and they also enjoy my accent. I am learning so much extra on top of the normal student teaching experience with discipline, lesson planning, timing, material creation, unit planning, etc. I also love that I get to travel around and explore Australia on the weekends! I have been very lucky to be placed with a good host family and be around other COST students who want to explore as well. It has been a challenging and rewarding experience so far, and I am excited for what the next half entails."
Student name: Danielle
"Today was my first day in my second grade classroom. I loved it. My teacher is from South Africa but speaks four languages. She is very supportive and wonderful with the students. At times she is a little strict, but in a good way. I have fifteen students: five girls and ten boys. Strictness is very much needed. Those boys are crazy. I have students from Italy, two from America (but one of whom is Bangladesh), one from somewhere in Africa (he kept telling me Switzerland but that's obviously not right), one from Japan, and some students who are Brazilian, German, Irish, and more. I'm in love with them. They call the girl from America "the girl with the bright face." It's hilarious. The students are so friendly and while the boys are not always well behaved, they are all extremely eager to learn. We started the day with homeroom which is just attendance and gathering homework. After that, we had Language. This is when the students learn English. We did spelling and phonics activities and I worked with some students one-on-one. I loved it. After an hour of Language and snack, the students had recess. From recess, we went to Computers Class where we finished working on their PowerPoint presentations from last week and started a reflection paper in a word document. It was so funny, because they were reflecting on an air and sound unit and one of the things they had to answer was "how do we know air exists?" One of my students wrote "I know air exists because without it, I couldn't be brave." (He really meant to say breathe, but was mixing up the v and th sounds). It was cute. After computers we had lunch, and I had the best school lunch I've ever eaten. The cafeteria is filled with salad bars and pasta and chicken and risotto and couscous and vegetables and so much more. Yum. After lunch was UoI, which is Unit of Inquiry. This is where we teach the main lesson of the day. Today, we started our six week unit on family histories. The students were in groups of three and together made a graffiti paper of their family histories and everything they knew. Anything that they did not know, the students were encouraged to think about so they could later interview their parents. The will then prepare for a class presentation on their families. In addition to this, we started getting the students ready for their self-lead parent conferences. The students have been picking out various projects or assignments that they have completed throughout the year (maybe one they especially loved or found interesting, maybe one they want to work more on, etc.) and have been putting them into a portfolio. The students then have to write why they picked each item and what it means to them. In a few weeks, the students will be leading their own parent conferences. We will be allowed in the rooms but not allowed to talk. The students have to do it all. After unit of inquiry, the students went home. It was such a good day. The students really welcomed me and seem to feel comfortable with me already. They are teaching me so much. I'm excited to see what tomorrow brings!!!!"
Student name: Sarah
Placement: Port Elizabeth, South Africa
"I spent 9 weeks in Port Elizabeth, South Africa with 8 other students from various colleges and universities in the US. Four of us lived in a one bedroom apartment in the city, about a one minute walk to one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever visited. While I was in PE, I taught at Herbert Hurd Primary School, grades 1 and 3, and volunteered through a local non profit organization, Freewalker, at a local township school, Kwa-ford Primary-- painting, gardening and organizing classrooms. While teaching and collaborating at Herbert Hurd and volunteering at Kwa-Ford, I learned so much about South Africa's cultures and educational system. I came back with a renewed appreciation for the resources that teachers and students have in the US! I thought I was independent before I traveled the 8,500 miles to PE, South Africa... but quickly learned what it meant to face challenges and struggles and succeed on my own-- starting with my 23 hour trip! I am a more confident person because of my experiences traveling to and living and teaching in SA. I learned how to live with perfect strangers (whom I now call friends) and collaborate with professionals whose pedagogical practices differ quite a bit from my own. Through the COST program, I was able to figure out how to apply my teaching skills in the classroom on the other side of the world. There is no other experience that will ever compare!"
Student name: Cristina
Placement: Guadalajara, Mexico
"My name is Cristina. My student teaching placement was in a third grade classroom at a school in Guadalajara, Mexico. The teacher, the children, the staff, and the school far exceeded any expectations I had. The children, families, and staff were all so great to collaborate with. Establishing relationships with everyone I met at the school was the least bit difficult. I was also able to learn so much from my mentor teacher, who had gained years of experience teaching in schools all over the world. Aside from the teaching aspect of the experience, what I loved most were the opportunities I had to experience the culture. This occurred through living with a wonderful host family, making new friends, and traveling the country. Student teaching through the COST program opened a lot of doors for me. It really allowed me to consider teaching opportunities I had not previously known existed. My student teaching experience was an amazing opportunity that I will always remember."
Student name: Karlien
Placement: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
"I'm all settled here! I have a cozy little apartment that's about a 5 minute bike ride from the center of Rotterdam... it's really an amazing location! The school is about 40 minutes by subway/tram, which isn't all that bad. On Wednesdays I go to another school's campus (they do bilingual education there, so that's where I'll be getting my social studies in) and that's over an hour away, but still do-able since it's only once a week.
"I've been learning a LOT about myself. Especially by connecting to my Dutch roots. I've been speaking the language a lot and I'm really proud of myself for doing that. The smallest things, like successfully asking for or giving directions in Dutch feels like a major accomplishment!
"I think that one of the biggest benefits of this program is seeing how schools in other countries run. My school is so different from middle and high schools in the States. Kids are given so much more freedom but also (what I feel is) a lot more responsibility with regards to school work, etc. Teaching here is different too. It's more common to be a part-time teacher than a full-time teacher, and teachers only come in when they have class and have a lot of control over their schedules. So teachers with kids often come in late and go home early to take care of their children, which I think is awesome."
"My school is very ethnically diverse, which I think is really interesting. Not a whole lot of blonde haired blue-eyed Dutch students which is what I was expecting! Rotterdam has a lot of Turkish, Surinamese, Moroccan, and Antilleans... so most of my students have one of those for their background. But I also have some students that are Pakistani, Indian, etc. It's funny because the school is technically a Christian-affiliated school, but the majority of my students are Muslim! This can be rough because a lot of students don't speak Dutch at home, which makes teaching them English even trickier than usual because then they have to translate everything twice.
"I like it though-- love the diversity, and the challenge!"