Sunday, January 12, 2014

FIRST official day of work as a teacher!

Monday was my first official day of work as a teacher!  Woo hoo!

Truth be told, I really love it so far.  So to begin...

I woke up on Monday morning at 6:30am, groggy, having barely slept more than 5 hours as I had been stressed, anxious and as a result, semi-awake all night which was a huge bummer.  However I didnt feel too tired luckily, probably as a result of the past two weeks I had to sleep in without having to work.  I hopped on the 7:19am bus and rode for 40 minutes into Darmstadt.  I was just barely able to snag the 8am train (it took my usual method of running) and 20 minutes later, I was in Frankfurt.  The trains were filled with people this morning, the station bustling.  I enjoyed reading and listening to music during my commute this morning.

At the Frankfurt train station.

At the main train station in Frankfurt, I switched over to the subway and took the 10 minute metro ride to my stop.  Finally, I excited the metro at the Alte Oper (old opera) and walked the 6 minutes or so to where I am now working: Kids Camp, a bilingual nursery/kindergarten in Frankfurt.  Here is the website link for those who are curious:

The day was easy and great.  Here is what my typical day consists of:

I arrive around 8am.  The kids all arrive between 8am and 9am, filing in at different times.  There are 15 children in my class in all, all are 5 years old.  I work in the same classroom every day, year round, with the same kids.  So the group I am in now is "my class" for the year.  We are called the "Clever Cats," cute ;-).  I work with two other women in my classroom.  Claudia is the German teacher, Yana is the teaching assistant/other German teacher (she is still in school, not yet certified to be a teacher), and I am the English teacher.  So technically Claudia and I are the lead teachers/bosses in the classroom and Yana is the assistant.

Once all the kids have arrived by around 9am, one of us three teachers runs upstairs to the kitchen and assembles the breakfast for the kids (usually something like bananas and cereal, or bread with butter and cheese).  The kids eat at 9:30am after we have a brief circle time and good morning.  Then between 10am and 12pm, we generally do something educational.  Depending on the day of this week, this could be reading a story, having a math lesson, or an English lesson.  We also might take the kids outside during this time for 45 minutes to play on the playground and get some fresh air.  The schedule is fairly flexible.  The three of us running the classroom have a lot of freedom to change the day around and choose what we do with the kids!

Where I work!  The cream colored building on the left.

My classroom!

I french braided two of the little girl's hair in my class one day last week <3

The kids have lunch at 12:50pm and then have quiet time from about 1:30pm-2:30pm ish.  This consists of them listening to a story on an audio recording while either sitting quietly or lying down.  This is during the time when I usually take my break.  I like to go drink tea and read in the Starbucks about 5 minutes away.  Then we have snack time around 3pm (usually a piece of fruit for each child along with either some pretzels or a cookie), and then the remainder of the day is free play during which we join the children in playing games, building blocks, reading or doing whatever.  I generally work from about 8am-5pm.  This is my typical day.

Generally the kids have English lessons on Tuesday and Thursdays.  This is where I come in.  For my first English lesson, we began with me assembling the kids seated around a table.  I asked them "Alright, who knows the ABCs?"  Most of their little hands shot up into the air.  We all recited the ABCs together.  Then I gave each of them a piece of paper and asked them to please write their names.  Much of this was barely legible scral, but all of them were able to do it!  Then I had a small cup filled with pieces of paper, each one had one of their names written on it.  I drew a name from the cup and then asked "So, whose name begins with T?"  A bunch of hands shot into the air and then we all said out loud together, Tyla!  Then I asked "and what is the last letter in Tyla's name?"  I went through each name, asking how many letters are in this person's name, or what the last letter is, etc.  After this activity, we moved on to numbers.  I asked who knows how to count to ten in English?  A bunch of little hands shot up again.  So we all counted out loud together from 1-10 in English.  Then I drew one child's name at a time from the cup and asked "Ok, Phillip, can you please come to the board and draw a #1 for us??"  Each child rose from their chair as I called on them, looking nervous and slightly proud as they made their way to the board.  Super cute.  I loved this.

And finally, once we finished that, I brought out the main event.  The candy store game.  I had brought some purchased chocolate bars into school with em on this day of varying size and flavor.  I laid them all out with a little price tag I had placed in front of it, ranging in price from $1-7.  Each child was given either a fake $5 or $10.  I had made all this fake money myself the day before.  At first, the kids exploded into excited chatter, all yelling about the candy, moving every which way.  I told them that yes, they would be allowed to eat some of the chocolate but after the lesson was over, so we need to take it down a notch for the time being ;-).  The activity was great fun.  I began as the shop keeper, selecting a child to be my customer.  Then I turned it over to the kids, choosing two kids as the shop keepers and then the others were customers.  This went really well.  One child would choose the candy she/he wanted, then I would hold the price tag up for all the kids to see and ask "So, Joel wants to buy this candy.  Its $7 and he has $5.  Can he buy it?"  Involving the entire class.  And "Alright, if Joel buys this candy for $4 and he has $5, how much does he get back?"  They were very into this, very excited and engaged.  So that was a lot of fun and really neat for me.

As another lesson, we played Simon Says.  I begin as Simon and give all sorts of various commands, such as "Simon says touch something blue" and they all scatter around the room to find something blue.  "Simon says hop up and down like a frog" as they all crouch down and begin hopping, giggling and bouncing around.  "Simon says touch your neck," to teach them body parts vocab.  After a few minutes, I turn the role of Simon over to one of the kids, so they can practice speaking and using the vocabulary.  They absolutely LOVE this game.  They go totally nuts over it.  By the end of the week, I can say with certainty that this is their favorite game.  Also occasionally one of them would pull out a great word, such as, one of the little girls was Simon and said "Simon says...touch something golden!"  To which I then say something like "Whoa, Dana, great word!!"

We did one other lesson that consisted of me splitting the class into two teams of four each (there were only 8 kids on that day).  Each time sat on one side of the table.  I sat at the end.  I gave each team a small bell to ring.  Then I held up a flashcard, one at a time.  They had pictures on them of various objects (like a shoe, milk, a toothbrush, etc), or colors, or animals.  Whichever team knew the word for what was on the flashcard in English was to ring their bell.  If they got it right, they get a point.  The team with the most points got a piece of chocolate.  Again, they loved this.  Bells were ringing loudly, kids shouting out answers.  I really liked this.

The area in Frankfurt where I work.  Reminds me a bit of Boston actually...the Commons/Back Bay area ;-)

And one of the really neat things about the job so far is, when I first began there, the kids would not speak any English to me.  Only German.  They do not have much of any English vocabulary, and they seem to struggle and get nervous when asked to speak English.  So try as I might, insisting they only speak in English to me, it wasnt happening.  However towards the end of the week, they began approaching me trying to speak to me in English!  So cool.  One sweet faced little blonde boy named Janne came up to me on Friday and said, "Brooke?  I had...8...fishsticks."  So which I replied, "Whoa, Janne!  Yum, thats a lot of food.  And great job on the English, you sound great!"  Another little girl, Dana, came up to me and began trying to tell me where her parents are from (small villages in Germany) both in English and in German.  And the cool part was, I could understand her!  The basic German words she was using trying to explain to me about where they were from.  So this makes me feel proud and fulfilled.  That they are beginning to use more English.

So far, I am really loving this job.  I like leading the children.  I have always liked taking a leading role.  I love working with children.  They bring me joy and make me happy.  And I feel pride, excitement and motivation when they respond to my activities and what I am teaching them.  That is such a neat feeling.  I love filling them with excitement and interest.

Photos of the famous shopping area in Frankfurt, close to where I work.

Really cool mall entrance.

At work on Thursday evening, we had a staff meeting.  This was for updates and suggestions.  I suggested we try to incorporate more English with the children.  The day is primarily in German, yet the school is touted as being bilingual even though the kids struggle with speaking English and most of them have almost no vocabulary.  One cannot learn a new language quickly only using it for 1 hour two days each week.  You need more immersion then that.  So I proposed outside of doing the two regular English lessons on Tuesday and Thursdays, also doing some sort of English activity each day.  Also during circle time, when Claudia is asking the children, "What day of the week is it?  What month is it?  What season is it?' in German, I proposed that after they answer in German, we ask them "And in English as well...?"

My two colleagues within my classroom seemed into this input, so we will see :-D

Dunkin Donuts in Frankfurt, which is apparently very coveted.  Yum!!

In other news, this past week was an excellent one.  Last weekend on Saturday I got brunch in Frankfurt with my friend Sally (the English woman).  It was so much fun, one of the best times I have had with her thus far.  We talked about more personal things within our lives and past experiences, and lots of other fun conversation topics.  We chatted/hung out for about 3 hours.  This was great fun.  I have come to really enjoy spending time with her.  She is intelligent and interesting, also witty and funny.  I feel comfortable in her prescence.

On Thursday night I met up with Christian’s sister, Stefanie for a drink after my work meeting.  I enjoyed an Italian hot chocolate.  We had a great time.  I love spending time with her.  She is so easy to hang out with, silly, down to earth, easy to talk to and sweet.  I like her a lot.  I could see her becoming a good friend of mine.

Also on Thursday evening, before my meeting at work and before meeting up with Stefanie, I hung out with a co-worker of mine, Judith, for about an hour and a half, as we had to hang around and kill time between when work ended and the meeting began.  (Judith works in the "Ladybirds" classroom and I am in the "Clever Cats").  I really enjoyed spending time with her.  She is German, she just returned from the US where she was an Au Pair for the past 1.5 year.  She was sweet, warm and easy to talk to.  I felt a good connection with her :-) so I am hoping to spend time with her again soon.

Then on Friday evening I went out with my friend Dali, the guy from Czech Republic who moved here to Germany as his girlfriend lives here.  I met him through my Tuesday night conversation group.  He and I got burgers and then walked around in Frankfurt, around the main shopping area.  We stopped in a bookstore and browsed for a bit, as we both enjoy reading a lot.  And then we just walked around and chatted.  Lots of fun.

So pretty!

I apologize to everyone for my lack of response to emails for a while now.  Its hard for me to find the time right now.  During the week, I am out of the house at 6am and generally not back until around 10/11pm as I have had social plans most nights.  So the time I will have to sit down and Skype/return emails will generally be on Sundays for the time being.

Right now I am re-reading one of my favorite books, The Five People You Meet in Heaven.  I highly recommend it.  Here is the synopsis from

"At the time of his death, Eddie was an old man with a barrel chest and a torso as squat as a soup can," writes Albom, author of the bestselling phenomenon Tuesdays with Morrie, in a brief first novel that is going to make a huge impact on many hearts and minds. Wearing a work shirt with a patch on the chest that reads "Eddie" over "Maintenance," limping around with a cane thanks to an old war injury, Eddie was the kind of guy everybody, including Eddie himself, tended to write off as one of life's minor characters, a gruff bit of background color. He spent most of his life maintaining the rides at Ruby Pier, a seaside amusement park, greasing tracks and tightening bolts and listening for strange sounds, "keeping them safe." The children who visited the pier were drawn to Eddie "like cold hands to a fire." Yet Eddie believed that he lived a "nothing" life-gone nowhere he "wasn't shipped to with a rifle," doing work that "required no more brains than washing a dish." On his 83rd birthday, however, Eddie dies trying to save a little girl. He wakes up in heaven, where a succession of five people are waiting to show him the true meaning and value of his life. One by one, these mostly unexpected characters remind him that we all live in a vast web of interconnection with other lives; that all our stories overlap; that acts of sacrifice seemingly small or fruitless do affect others; and that loyalty and love matter to a degree we can never fathom. Simply told, sentimental and profoundly true, this is a contemporary American fable that will be cherished by a vast readership. Bringing into the spotlight the anonymous Eddies of the world, the men and women who get lost in our cultural obsession with fame and fortune, this slim tale, like Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, reminds us of what really matters here on earth, of what our lives are given to us for.

And finally, I received the COOLEST thing in the mail the other day.  It made my month.  A gift from one of my very best friends.  It included a beautiful silver bracelet, a silky vibrant red scarf, one of my favorite magazines (In Style), a card that warmed my heart (I am saving it of course), and chocolate covered Oreos, a dessert I LOVE!!!!  Along with a really sweet, thoughtful card from my aunt out in California.  That made me feel very special.

Well that is all for now.  I am going to head off.  However I hope to talk to all of you very soon.  I have been thinking about my friends a lot today in particular.  I am really missing all of you and thinking of you.  I wish I could see you all in person.  I miss having dinners with each of you, hanging out in Boston, laughing, great conversations in person and just having fun with each of you.  Hence the quote below:

“But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one's deepest as well as one's most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person - having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

1 comment:

  1. Brooke, What a great description of this week in Germany! You are a gifted writer, describing people, places, activity AND foods with clarity and in a manner that engages and interests your reader. This is the next best thing for all your friends and family who MISS you and can't be there with you. Love, Dad