So, this week, we had our first visit to a local school, to present a session on "Canadian Thanksgiving" in a Grade 3 classroom.
The building was huge, an old historic teachers' college turned into a high school, with a newer, equally enormous building attached to the back, which is the "primary" or "elementary" school.
The classroom that was hosting us was in one of the upstairs halls. An English-speaking mother of one of the students met us, and took us up to our host classroom, where we were welcomed by the teacher and her class.
The boys were pretty freaked out at first: They kind of tend to be treated a bit like celebrities at the best of times, being monozygotic twins and all; being the only blond kids and the only kids not wearing school uniforms made them stand out even more, and you could see the pressure in their faces as they began their presentation!
But the teacher in our host class was super friendly and accommodating, and the students were engaging and interested; Alex and Simon soon relaxed somewhat, and did a great job sharing a little bit about our Thanksgiving traditions with their new BA peers.
It was funny to see the kids taking as many photos of us as we were of them!
After our presentation was over, and we were on our way back downstairs and out to the subway, we passed a cupcake sale in the hall -- some of the older students were holding a fundraiser. Just like in Canadian schools, I thought!
In some sense, the classroom we saw today is very similar to classrooms I have taught in in Canada: A little bit run-down, kids working in groups, instructional posters on the wall, not enough space for all the great things I want to set up… :-D
Something interesting about the schools here is that recess snack and a healthy lunch is apparently provided to all public school students, regardless of socio-economic level. For most public schools, students also get a state-funded netbook to use as a learning tool and take home, which they bring twice a week to work with at school.
I'm looking forward to future visits to this and other schools to learn more about the education system here.