Here in Karlsruhe, we are lucky enough to have an ice cream truck that stops right in front of our flat. He usually comes around 7:30 in the evening, sometimes a little earlier and sometimes a little later. Kristen, Carly, and I spend our evenings waiting on him, and then as soon as we hear the truck’s bell, we dash out the door. He has a variety of flavors (even cherry cola!), but my favorite is called Pino Pinguino. It’s basically vanilla with a Nutella swirl. Man, it’s to die for.
Anyway, as I patiently wait on ice cream, I figure I ought to write my blog post about the events of the past week. We were finally back in the classroom! It took some time to reorient ourselves, especially since we only had a week at the school before Easter break, but I’d like to think we managed to adjust to the system. This week, Heidi, our host teacher, gave us a schedule of classes we were to observe and participate in. Most of the classes were with Heidi, but we also had the opportunity to sit in other English teachers’ classes. It was interesting to see the teaching methods and classroom management of the various teachers we visited.
We encountered many students we had not met the first week and were greeted with a familiar curiosity about us and our life in America, including American politics. The students here love to ask questions about Donald Trump and our opinion of him, which the teachers encourage us to answer. That’s one major difference – back in the States, opinionated political discussions are generally avoided, as they can be seen as unprofessional, and can potentially tarnish a teacher’s reputation as a credible source of information. It may be more acceptable here because we are from another county. We usually tell the students what we think, but we also discuss with them the difference between voters and why they may have voted as they did.
I have also enjoyed our discussions with Heidi about the American school system, and the German school system. We’ve discussed a variety of different topics, such as the structure of various schools, classroom management and discipline differences, grades, teacher pay, etc.
One major difference that I find particularly interesting is how the substitute teacher system works. Here in Germany, they don’t call anyone from outside the school to substitute unless a sub is needed for three months or longer. Generally, from day-to-day, if a teacher is missing, another teacher will substitute for the class. They may be left with lesson plans, or they may be expected to come up with their own plans for the period. Sometimes, teachers don’t even know what classes they will be substituting for until they arrive at school and check the schedule.
So, while we have generally been following the schedule Heidi gave us, there have been some unexpected substitute days that have kept us on our toes. We subbed for a “sport” (P.E.) class and taught the girls dodgeball.
Speaking of sport, on Friday Gutenbergschule had its “Fit in Frühling” (Fit in Spring) day, which was essentially like a field day for the students to get them active and outside. We traveled to a local park and students either jogged, skated, or biked around a path. Carly, Kristen, Chris and I walked around the park, enjoyed the warm spring day, and watched some baby ducklings by a pond. After school, we went into town with Heidi, and ate at a Mexican food restaurant. It was some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever eaten, honestly.
On Saturday, Chris, Carly, Kristen and I caught a bus at 5:25 and traveled to Munich! It was definitely worth waking up early. I explored the Bavarian History and Culture museum, which had a wide selection of medieval artifacts, and naturally, I geeked out. After that, Chris and I went to Munich’s Frühlingsfest. We rode a couple of the rides and grabbed some drinks and a bite to eat. We also got the chance to talk to a group of Welsh men from Swansea who were in Munich for their 40th birthday celebration. I enjoyed talking to them because I studied abroad in Wales last summer near Swansea! The next day, we visited the Dachau concentration camp. It was a heavy and somber experience, and there were many times I had to pause my audio tour and sit down because I was so overwhelmed. It was a lot to take in.
Monday, May 1st, is a holiday in Germany, so we didn’t have school. We went to Heidi’s in the evening and enjoyed a traditional German dinner of bratwurst, sauerkraut, and potatoes. I don’t eat meat, but I was lucky enough to find vegetarian bratwurst in the grocery store! It was lovely evening spent with good company.
I can’t believe that I only have one more week left!