Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Last Full Week in Germany

I truly cannot believe how fast this week has flown by here in Werne. This week was fully of great teaching experiences, meeting new people, gathering together with family, and of course more traveling and visiting. Let’s jump right in!

First of all, this week at school has truly been an awesome experience that I will always remember as an educator. The gift of being able to go into a classroom and teach students is such a wonderful blessing. The ability to be able to positively affect their education, be a role model for them to follow, and provide them with opportunities are all things that I love about the career I’ve chosen. It’s still hard for me to grasp the fact that I have been given the chance to do this in another country other than my own. There are too many amazing experiences to write in one blog post, however, I will provide the most memorable ones. One of my favorite memories of my time so far at Anne-Frank Gymnasium were the small group discussions I have had with my Q1 (11th grade) English students regarding Romeo and Juliet. These students will be taking their final examinations over the course on Tuesday, so the students really need to be familiar with the text along with other information studied throughout the year. It was definitely an honor and a great responsibility to help make sure these students were prepared. In order to help students in the best way possible, my mentor teaching and I collaborated to be able to have all students working at all times. While he taught whole group instruction over various parts of the text, I would take small groups out in the hall and do group discussions over the key aspects of the different scenes. After 8-10 minutes, I would send the group back inside and Herr (Mr.) Fölling would send another group out to me. This way, all students would have the most possible review time and be able to discuss different aspects of the text. In my 7cd Geography class, I had the opportunity to lead a Fishbowl Discussion with a group of wonderful 7th grade students. Frau Eckert allowed me to jump right in and moderate the discussion that the students had prepared for concerning an environmental issue in Chad. The students were very hesitant to speak at first, but once they saw how interested I was in the discussion after I introduced the various speakers, they really started to enjoy it and more and more students were trying to get involved and share their opinions. I also really enjoyed my time with my 9th grade students in Frau Osthoff’s class. Having the opportunity to get to have the students introduce each other through peer intereviews, be able to introduce myself, and then talk about a variety of subjects relating to culture, history, and literature; was such a great way of getting to learn about the students and share information with them.

There was also a lot of fun that happened away from the school during the week. Our group of student teachers had the privilege of meeting the mayor of Werne, Lothar Christ. He asked us to share our opinions about the schools and what we thought about the city. I actually was quoted in a local newspaper for one of my statements regarding how great the students were, and how I was glad to see them not use technology as a crutch but instead use other tools and study more in depth in their research. This was something that I really enjoyed being recognized in a local German newspaper for my positive comments. I hope that the parents of AFG will feel pride in knowing the impression they give on complete strangers because of their work ethic. This was really neat because our group had been in several newspapers and on TV; and had now been quoted in the newspaper and interviewed on TV. I joked with my host family that I “came to Germany as a student teacher, but may stay to start my film career!” I also had the opportunity this week to meet a Member of Parliament, Sylvia Jörrißen. Our group was able to talk to her about our experiences in Germany and also about her job as a member of parliament in both large and small city operations. Our group really appreciated her time and we were all astounded that she would take the time out of her schedule to come see such a small group of students. This really showed what type of person she is and why she is so popular and respected here in Germany. On that same day, our group also had a Professional Development meeting with Heike and three other student teachers, as well as an independent teacher. This was great to be able to learn more about the differences and similarities between completing the teacher education program in Germany and completing it in the United States. We also were able to a variety of games and “tricks” to use in the classroom in order to help facilitate thinking and support memorization and cooperation. 

On a personal note, I had a great time with my family this week. We did so many things together and were able to share a lot of fun memories. My family and another student teacher’s family are related so we were able to take part in some activities as an extended family, which was really fun. One day we went to two local castles, Nordkirchen and Burg Vischering. I am always amazed to be able to go into or walk around actual castles due to the fact that they are just not something common or so ancient in the United States. We also had an awesome family BBQ this weekend. My family and the Henning (relative) family got together to grill out, play games, and share stories. It was really cool for me to be able to help my host dad grill (one of my favorite things) and even use the BBQ sauce I brought them from my favorite restaurant in Owensboro. This was one of my favorite nights of the week and we all had so much fun spending time together. I also went to Dortmund with my family and went to the Gasometer Museum to see the various works of art and light show. One of my favorite things this week was being able to go to Signal Iduna Park, the stadium of the BVB football club. This is my family’s favorite European football (soccer) team, and being a huge sports fan, I have come to love the team myself in such a short time. I loved being able to go to one of the most premiere and loved football clubs in the area. I was able to take some great pictures and tour the entire stadium; even the locker rooms, team bench areas, and tunnel where the players walk together onto the field. 

This week has been such an incredible experience and I feel so very fortunate to be able to do the things that I have done. I still have a few days left in Werne before I come home, and I want to make sure and live them to the fullest.

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