I have been teaching now for the past 2 (almost 3) months at an elementary school in Vienna, Austria. I work mainly with first graders, but I also spend an hour a week with 3rd grade students. The children barely speak English, which has been a challenge. However, I have been able to implement some methods for teaching ELL/bilingual students (and I've been able to practice my German!)
One of the first things I noticed at my Austrian school is that teachers are quite open and forward in the way they speak to students. They do not hold anything back or try to make things sound kinder. For example, when disciplining a student my Cooperating Teacher said in front of the whole class something along the lines of "You're not going to get anywhere if you keep acting like that." When commenting on a student's writing of the letter A, she said that it was terrible and he needed to do it again. In writing these words sound much harsher, but even so the discipline/criticism was quite direct and to the point. There was no "sugar coating." This may be just my CT's style of teaching, however, from other experiences in Austria I get the impression that people here speak honestly and bluntly. Austrians, including my CT, are not passive aggressive. They say things as they are and aren't always worried about hurting people's feelings. When my teacher said those things to young children I was a little shocked, but the kids didn't seem bothered by it at all. I have student taught in a variety of American classrooms, and a comment like this would have surely embarrassed the student. Criticism and discipline normally is not as public in American schools, especially for small things like writing a certain letter again. In the States, teachers normally talk to students individually if there is a problem so as not to involve other children in someone’s personal business. This does not seem to be the case in Vienna. At times my CT's style of discipline and criticism has made me feel uncomfortable (especially when she yells it in German and I have no clue what she is saying). However, fortunately, she allows me to use and implement my own teaching and classroom management strategies while I am there. She appreciates my work as a pre-practicum student and despite our teaching differences, we get along and collaborate well with each other!