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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Student Teacher at Märzstraße

6:00 am: Wake up call! I felt the need to include this because it is truly one of the challenges I face. After long weekends traveling and exploring, a Monday morning wake up call can be tough. But, the great day that I know is to come always motivates me to get up and get going!

7:50 am: Arrive at Märzstraße. On my way I encounter many independent young students making their own way to class on the same trains and trams that I take. My CT greets me and briefs me on the subject I will be teaching in English that day. She usually has a set plan of what I will teach that week. She is open to my suggestions for lessons but seems to sometimes be thrown off if I suggest something she was not planning for me to do. I think it is because she wants to accommodate me the best she can but also has plans of her own. I arrive in time to greet the students as they come into the classroom for the day. At the beginning of the day, they usually start off more timid of our interactions but quickly become comfortable with desperately trying to somehow communicate with me again. This includes just a "Hi!" from some students, or a quick hug because they really do not know how to say hello in English to me (unlike in America, student-teacher physical contact is much less of a controversial topic and is encouraged). Other students come up and want to show me their homework or a project they made that is now hanging on the wall. They will point and attempt to say the words they know in English. I will respond with the small amount of German praises I know and smile(the usual). The students bring there homework sheets and books up to the front in orderly piles and they have their books open to the page the homework was on. This proves to be a very orderly system and no one has to be reminded to bring their homework up.

8:00 am: The bell rings. Students, who were running around and playing before, will find their seats and prepare for class. There are many routines set in place in the classroom that the students are very accustomed to. This routine starts with my CT saying "Guten Morgen!" and the whole class repeats it back in unison. She then makes any announcements she has to make and hands back homework that needs to be fixed from the previous day. We then sometimes sing a song or talk about our weekends. I then take a group of either three or four students to the closed off cubby room next to the classroom. Each week they are working on a different set of English vocabulary. So I will either have a set of picture cards to use, or a book to read, or this week I had some props to teach them about shopping. I spend 15-20 minutes with the group and then they go back into the main classroom and the next set of students comes out to work with me. This system is different from what I have experienced in the United States. Kids are pulled out of classes from time to time to work with specialist teachers in the US. But in my teaching in Austria I am pulling out groups all at different times of the lesson and it makes me wonder if it is challenging to keep up with the continuity of the lesson they are missing parts of. This part of my day is certainly the most important and the most challenging. Because I lack much knowledge in German, I do sometimes struggle to describe or explain words to students. Having a visual always helps. I also can struggle with classroom management. Because we are away from my CT and there are lots of little objects around us to pick up and play with, the students tend to get distracted. Somedays it can be challenging for me to reign them in and have them focus on English, especially because I cannot communicate in the way I would like to. I continue this English lesson until I have gone through all the students in the class.

10:00 am: The students have a "pause". This is essentially lunch/ play time. My students do not have recess outside. This is different then anything I have experienced in the States. Even at Jackson Mann, which is urban, they had an outdoor recess time when it was not too cold. The students at my Austrian school do get the opportunity to play in the hall but that is the closest they get to recess. During this time my CT will get coffee and catch up on some papers. I walk around and try to interact with the students. We make puzzles together and they try to tell me about what they are eating in English. This is a good time for me to bond with the students and develop a closer relationship with them.

10:15 am: Half of the class leaves with the art teacher. The other half of the class stays for art class. My CT then describes the project we will be doing that day. I go around and help the students who are struggling. I find it interesting that students here are much more independent but once teachers decide that a student needs help they will completely do it for them. I feel like I have always been told to help students along or do it with them. Where as here it is either the mentality that they can do it alone or they cannot do it at all. They also do highly intricate art projects which surprised me because they are only second graders.

12:00 pm: Time to go home! The school day at the elementary school ends at twelve. The kids show me what they made in art and then I wave and receive an enthusiastic chorus of "Bye!!" in return.

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