Hey everyone, just thought I would give a quick update on what's been going on for the past week or so. Internet is still just a surf-stick, so I've gotten horrible at updating the blog/ being online in general. I started school on Friday, so I figure that will be the main topic of this post. Once again, I'll break the post down into sections so if you're lazy or just don't care about a certain aspect, you're able to skip it.
The school is really similar to any American high school. It has three floors, lots of windows, and chairs and tables. The classrooms are really plain, because teachers don't get their own classrooms here in Germany. The students stay in the same room all day, and the teachers travel to the students. Another big difference is the amount of technology available in each classroom. At my high school, every classroom had an old school projector, a TV and DVD player, a whiteboard, and the type of projector that plugs into the computer. Here at Gymnasium Nidda, there is only a chalkboard and old school projector in every room. In order to get a TV, you have to rent out a room in the school, and it's the same for the newer projector. Instead of using chairs with the desks attached to them like we did in the US, they have large tables that seat 3 or 4. There are a few lockers in the school, but the students have to pay for them, so I think almost no one has a locker. It's definitely interesting.
The students here seem to be really similar to American students. The school has students from the age of 11 all the way up to the age of 20. There are good students, bad students, know-it-alls, and slackers, so in that aspect it's JUST like American schools. Students here have a little bit less respect for teachers, though, and I'm not sure why. I haven't had that problem so far, because I'm new and interesting - many of the students have never met a "real American," so they're fascinated with my accent and the way that I speak. It's okay with me, because when I'm talking, they're usually pretty quiet for the most part, and if they do get too loud, all I have to do is give my "mom look", maybe say a quick, "Quiet!", and they shut up. One thing I do love about the students here is that they are generally pretty enthusiastic about learning, and they LOVE asking questions. In the Oberstufe (upper levels) today, I spent an hour talking about my political views and discussing a somewhat controversial article. One popular question has been, "Do you think Obama will get re-elected?" My answer is always no, and I REALLY hope that I'm not jinxing the election. :)
The teachers here are great so far. Most of the English teachers speak pretty decent English, and are willing to listen if I correct them. I did have one teacher today who didn't believe anything I said, because he's dead set on the fact that American English and British English are exactly the same. I told him multiple times that there are things an American would rarely (if ever) say, and he didn't believe me. That's okay, but I think I know.... I WAS raised in America, after all. The teachers all speak German with me, and I appreciate it. I've asked them to stop me and correct mistakes, and my German is already improving. I've learned a lot of new words, and my vocabulary is growing, slowly but surely. I must admit, though, I'm awful with names. I'm bad enough with American names, and German names are even harder. I can remember most last names, but have forgotten almost all of the first names. The only ones I can remember are Alexa and Chris, and that's because those ones are EASY!
Changing the subject completely, I've noticed a huge difference in teaching styles, and am constantly thinking about how I would do things differently. For example, it's very common here for the teacher to sit at a desk in the front of the room while lecturing. I don't necessarily think that that's the best way to do things, and have noticed that when I stand, I feel like the students pay more attention. I have also noticed that a lot of the teachers don't get bothered when students are talking and not listening, and many of the teachers were completely ineffective when they tried to get the students to quiet down. That could go back to the respect thing, though.
Dress is pretty casual - every day is casual Friday here. However, I have been dressing nicer than jeans and a t-shirt, just because I feel like I'm taken a little bit more seriously when I dress the part. It is nice to know, though, that if I HAD to wear a tshirt, it would be okay!
The School Day
Every day here is different. German students have a weekly schedule instead of a daily one, and it's SO confusing! They may have 1.5 hours of English on Friday and 45 mins on Tuesday, and that's it for the week. Some days they may get out of school at 1:05, and others they get out at 4:30. I still have no set schedule because no one knows what to do with me, but so far I know that I will be working from 9:00 to 2:00 ish on Mondays, 8:00 to 12:15 ish on Tuesdays, 2:00 - 3:30 on Wednesdays, Thursdays are unknown, and Fridays will be 8:00 to 1:00 ish. This will not be the same every week, though, because when there are tests, teachers won't need me.
Basically, I'm getting settled in really well, and KNOW that this is what I want to do. I'm not even REALLY teaching yet, but it's just been a total confirmation for me. I LOVE sharing my knowledge with others, I LOVE answering questions, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE seeing kids eager to learn! I can totally understand how rewarding it would be to be a teacher. I can also see how hard it really is, but I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
In other news, it's colder every day, and I love walking to the train station each morning because I can feel the crisp, cool air that comes with Autumn. The leaves are starting to change, and the days are getting shorter - it's the best time of year here in Germany!!