International Connections

Blair Reynolds

Major: Elementary Education

Minor/option/emphasis: Reading; English/Language Arts; Social Studies

Year: Senior
Hometown, State: Parker, SD

Type of experience: Student Teaching
Experience: International Student Teaching
Experience website:
Destination: Poland

Overall experience..
My overall experience was amazing! Student teaching in Poland, and traveling around Europe taught me more than I could have imagined. From the first day meeting the students and touring the school, to our last lesson and saying goodbye, we felt welcome, appreciated, and highly respected. Being in central Europe, we also had the opportunity to travel to many different countries. In each country, we tried new cuisine, met people from around the world, and got to experience each culture. My eight weeks abroad helped shape my perspective on how to approach my future students and the cultures they bring to the classroom.

I learned...
I first learned about International Student Teaching during my initial college visit. After that visit, I chose Iowa State because of the opportunity to student teach abroad. I wanted an experience that was different than other schools could offer, and Iowa State gave me that.

An impact to my life...
My time in Poland greatly impacted my life. I was able to experience education in a different way than we do in the U.S. The students highly respected their teachers and it introduced a new style of teaching I wish to practice in my classroom. Observing new methods and practices helped me see what works in our system, and what would be worth trying.

My most valuable learning experience...
My most valuable learning experience was learning about the importance of languages. All students start learning English at age 5. In their upper education, they also learn at least one more language, if not more. Every student is multi-lingual. This makes students more culturally aware and better able/willing to communicate with others. I hope to bring this practice to my classroom in some way to advance my students education.

I will never forget...
The most memorable experience I had was the opportunity to showcase the school to potential students. At NCCS they have an open house to show potential students the school and the activities they offer. We got to help introduce the school and the different quirks current students had told us about to the potential students through trivia questions. They were required to answer in English as we didn't speak Polish. This was a challenge for some students, but was a major confidence boost when they got the answers correct. Many students would stay after the session to ask us questions about home or just to hear us talk as native English speakers. They loved the opportunity to practice their speaking skills with us, and thanked us many times.

Advice for others...
My advice to others is to take advantage of every opportunity. Do something fun whenever you can. Try new cuisine. Get to know your students- their lives and insight to life are amazing. Always show gratitude when someone works to communicate with you in English. Meet new people in each place you visit- have a conversation with them. Lastly, make the most of every moment.

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