Uruguayan teacher at OHS sees differences between countries’ approaches


By Valerie Urbanik - vurbanik@civitasmedia.com



<p style="text-align: right;">Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune <p style="text-align: left;">Uruguayan exchange teacher Maria de los Angeles Morales looks over what ninth grade students are learning in Jennifer Smillie’s algebra class.

Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Uruguayan exchange teacher Maria de los Angeles Morales looks over what ninth grade students are learning in Jennifer Smillie’s algebra class.


Learning and adapting to a new school system is challenging, but adjusting to a whole new country and teaching methods in two weeks is very difficult.

Maria de los Angeles Morales is visiting Oberlin from Uruguay to observe classes and co-teach at the high school.

The district was selected to participate in the 2016 Visiting Uruguayan Educator Program, which is implemented by the American Councils for International Education and the Uruguay Fullbright Commission.

Morales’ first day in the high school was Monday and she said it was a very long day.

She said in Uruguay, teachers and students get a five-minute break between classes to relax before the next one begins. “I was not used to class after class after class,” Morales said.

Her first two days at Oberlin High meant adapting because teaching methods in Uruguay are a lot different than in the United States.

“The physical structure of the school is much better than my school,” Morales said. The U.S. also has better resources for their teachers and students.

The big differences between Oberlin and Uruguay are the technology, classroom sizes, how much knowledge each student has, and the structure of the school day, Morales said.

“All of the students in Uruguay have their own laptops,” she said. “I use it in the classroom to improve the learning experience. I want to see how the U.S. teachers use technology.”

Morales said class sizes in Oberlin are a lot smaller than what she’s use to. In Uruguay, there are more than 30 students per class.

When a class ends in Uruguay, the students stay in the same classroom and the teachers move, unlike in Oberlin where the students switch classes.

The first week of Morales’ visit has been spent observing classes. The second week will be co-teaching.

She is evaluating Oberlin’s math classes, helping teach Spanish, and cooking with the consumer science class.

International Baccalaureate middle years program coordinator Kristin Miller and Oberlin board of education president Ken Stanley are hosting Morales during her visit.

Miller said she and Morales were partnered because they are both high school teachers, work on curriculum, and are involved with the technology offered in their schools.

“Everyone has been very nice and welcoming,” Morales said. “The people in the U.S. are very polite.”

During her visit, she’s also had the chance to see snow for the first time, go skiing with the district’s ski club, and even attend a Cleveland Cavaliers game.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.

Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Uruguayan exchange teacher Maria de los Angeles Morales looks over what ninth grade students are learning in Jennifer Smillie’s algebra class.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2016/02/web1_IMG_6863.jpg

Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Uruguayan exchange teacher Maria de los Angeles Morales looks over what ninth grade students are learning in Jennifer Smillie’s algebra class.

By Valerie Urbanik

vurbanik@civitasmedia.com