I am just finishing up my two week vacation and have been reflecting on all that I have seen and done in my German classroom. I have found the comparison to classrooms in Canada surprisingly similar. I guess I had expected things to either be extremely strict, or things to be extremely relaxed and inquiry based- but it seems that it is a balance similar to the classrooms that I have seen in Canada. Students sit in table groups, and are motivated to stay on track and be respectful by earning stars and fearing missing out on recess.
There are two differences that I have noticed though. The students have a lot of freedom when it comes to playing outside and the teachers are with their students for a full four years. I can see the benefits of allowing the students to run wild at recess, as it allows “kids to be kids”. I am very conscious of how the teachers around me react, and I try to set my standards to the same level- but I must admit that some of the things they do make cover my eyes and I have to force myself to stop from stepping in (like seeing kids going down slides head first and in long trains of students- yikes!). I can definitely see the difference that having the same group of students for four years has for both the teacher and the students. The students act like more of a family, and are more understanding of each others needs. They love their teachers dearly, and know the routines and expectations well. I do find that this system has made it hard for me to earn the students respect, as not only do I not know the language but they do not have nearly the same bond with me as they do their teachers.
I am making progress with the students though! My lesson on ‘Where the Wild Things Are” was a success. We focused on language comprehension and a small art piece, both of which the students enjoyed. My partner teacher was extremely helpful in helping me ask & answer questions about the story with the students, and was able to keep them in line when I was losing them.
Only four more days until I am back in the classroom- I am excited to see my partner teacher & students again!