This year and as part of our ongoing school-university collaboration, we have welcomed a wide group of teacher-candidates from the University of Delaware, the University of Cork and local universities. The objective of this programme has always been to bring new ideas and international teachers into the school in order to help us reflect on our practice.
Here is a letter written by one of our colleagues from the University of Delaware, showing how our collaboration was born. A real pleasure!
A St. Peter’s Odyssey by Bill Lewis, Associate Professor, University of Delaware
Back in 2016 I was co-planning a study abroad experience for the University of Delaware’s teacher education students in Barcelona, Spain. In previous study-abroad trips to London and Wales, we visited schools in those different cities and listened to presentations about the schools’ programs while sitting on tiny chairs, sipping punch and eating cookies. Though we learned a great deal about the schools, we did not learn much about what makes a school run or how students and teachers experience the school’s program. I knew that there could be a better experience for my teacher-education students as well as a better experience for the schools who chose to host us.
That summer I began reaching out to public and private schools in Barcelona… schools where the language of instruction was primarily in English, and schools that would hopefully join in partnership with us to provide a rich experience for both the school faculty and administration and my teacher-candidates. Most schools politely declined to participate. However, when I reached out to St. Peter’s I was pleased to get an almost immediate reply from Carme Escorcia, Director of Communications and admissions. We spoke about what I hoped to accomplish in the program…provide my teacher education students with a rich experience in a Spanish school where they can observe how a community of learners is built and supported….but also give back to the school by providing another set of hands in the classroom. And Carme shared with me her goals for the school which was to bring new ideas and people into the school in order to help the St. Peter’s faculty reflect on their instructional goals and how they can best serve the diverse needs of their children.
When we finally arrived at the school in January of 2016, we were overwhelmed by the warmth of the faculty and administration and the hospitality with which we were received. Our students got to work right away in classrooms, helping with instruction and interacting with the students and teachers. They talked about planning, classroom management and how to solve problems on the playground….and they LOVED the sandwiches! They were, in short, becoming teachers by observing the excellent teaching and learning that was happening at St. Peter’s School of Barcelona.
Four years and two more study-abroad experiences at St. Peter’s have come and now have gone. My 2020 students are currently hugging the students they worked with and are saying goodbye. However, because of the rich partnership and the openness and kindness of the faculty, administration and staff at the school, my students have been indelibly enriched by the experience and will bring the wonderful memories of the school and the lessons that they learned back to the United States to share with their students there. We are incredibly grateful to the people of St. Peter’s and we look forward to continuing this relationship into the future.
William Lewis, Associate Professor, University of Delaware