On Monday April 15th we have the opportunity to visit the bilingual school here in Stendal. The school is a private school that has two first, two second, two third, and two fourth grade classrooms. Since the school is a private school there is a fee for the students to attend, which is 180€ a month. The classrooms each have twenty students in them.
We started off the day by meeting Sally to walk to the school. The school is a little bit farther away from our flat then our other school, but not by too much! We were greeted by the Vice Principal Birgit who showed us the staff room. Soon Sally was off showing us the rest of the school. We all loved how open the school was, with the “cafeteria” just being in an open space in the middle of the school. There are three levels to the school – the bottom floor being the largest and the two upper floors housing several classrooms.
On Monday mornings the school has their house meeting where the entire school (about 80 students and the teachers) meet in the gym to discuss the previous week. The school has a safety patrol which watches out at recess to make sure all students are on their best behavior, and a new safety patrol is appointed each week during this meeting. We were given our schedules and spilt off into pairs to observe.
Jessica and I spent the first lesson of the morning in a “things” lesson for third graders – where the students can cover anything from science, to history, to life skills. The students were learning about fire safety. We immediately could see a different between our normal school and the bilingual school! All instruction was given in English during this lesson, and we actually knew what was going on! The students were reciting a poem about what to do if your house was on fire from memory and doing very well at it.
Soon it was time for breakfast break, and then we were off to a 2nd grade English lesson. The teacher for this lesson was Uta, who was very nice and welcoming to Jessica and I. Uta grew up in South Africa, but her parents are British so she has a very British accent! The students were looking at pictures and describing things they saw. The entire lesson was in English again, and to our surprise, most of the second graders were very comfortable with their English. They were able to make complete sentences, and even ask for help a few times. Jessica and I were allowed to walk around and help the students with their work. Jessica had a special connect with this group and was very excited to help since we student taught in a 2nd grade classroom.
After the students had their morning recess break, we heading to a German lesson with the same 2nd grade class. The students were describing a tulip and spring. Soon the students were writing poems. This lesson was completely taught in German. It is still a shock to me how students can go from English to German in the blink of an eye.
Next we were in a fourth grade English lesson. The students each introduced themselves to us and told us their names, about their families, and their hobbies. Jessica and I then introduced ourselves. The students were working on listening to descriptions in English and trying to find what is being described. They are working on this to prepare them for a test they have to take that is given by the government here.
Soon it was time for lunch. Lunch breaks here are very different from ours in the states. The bilingual school takes an hour break where all the students are on the playground together and are called by grades to each lunch. While we think this would be crazy, there are actually only two teachers outside with the students during this time. They are very responsible, and the safety patrol that I talked about early also helps with behavior outside.
At the end of the day the vice principal Birgit invited us to dinner at her house in Tangermünde the following evening. We all were very excited, but also nervous. This was the first time we all would be purchasing train tickets and taking the train all on our own. However, we made it safely to Tangermünde the following evening and had a wonderful dinner and great conversation with Birgit and her son! We have worked out where we can visit the bilingual school at least one more day towards the end of our trip and are very excited to return!