It is the end of our first week here at the school Stendal, and the week has been very interesting and exciting. On Monday morning we all got dressed and went upstairs to have breakfast before we left for the school. As we sat at the table we began to discuss our thoughts and anxiety that we were having about going into the school. I felt like I was in grade school and it was the first day of kindergarten. I did not know what to expect. I will admit that my biggest fear was that I would be able to understand the language and would be totally lost.
As we walked into the school with Sally (our guide) we were met by the principal, Silke (Silk-a). She greeted us with the words “Good Morning, Welcome to Am Stadtsee!” Then she walked us to the English room in the school. Some of my anxiety went away, because I knew that there was someone who that could speak English in the schools. We sat it the room and she gave us information about the schools and our classroom assignments. I was excited to know that I was placed in a second grade classroom. The other girls are in fourth grade and will be moving to third after two weeks. I was also relieved to know that my teacher can speak English. The school is not a bilingual school, but they do learn British English. In grades one and two they have English lessons once a week, and twice a week for the higher grades. The school starts at first grade and goes through fourth grade. There are 200 students at the school with 12-15 students in a class. We were given a tour of the school in pairs by fourth grade students. I thought it was so neat to have the students give us the tour, and they spoke English to us while giving the tour. We were introduced to the other teachers of the school and then off to our class we went. As I sat in my classroom I was a bit confused. Everything was in German! Dr. Goodman visited my class with me and was trying to translate things the best she could but I just sat there absorbing it all in.
The next day we were off to school alone. There was no Sally or Dr. Goodman there with us to translate anything. I walked into the classroom a couple minutes before the students came in. As they arrived and saw me in the classroom, I was greeted with “Guten morgen” (good morning) by many of the students. As the day began the students began to speak to me –in German! I began to communicate with them in a language that I barely know the basics of. I began learning the names of the students and felt more comfortable being in the classroom. During the morning break the teacher came and spoke with me she asked me to read the book “The Very Hungary Caterpillar” to the class later that day. She had a copy of both, English and German language and wanted me to help with that lesson. I was excited and full of joy to know that it was only our second day in the school and I was doing a lesson with the class without any preparation or plans. The teacher read a page in German and I read it in English. The student really enjoyed that lesson. They were happy to have me in their classroom. I was beginning to learn German from them and they were learning more English words as well.
As the week continued I became more interactive in the classroom. I began to understand what was going on in the class from making connections of their actions in the classroom. I assisted with many of the different lessons. We all were beginning to learn the normal routine for the school and the children. It does feel a little uncomfortable walking up to the school in the morning and everyone is just staring at you like you are the new kid at school. But I’m sure as the weeks go by we will be at ease. The first week went by quickly, and I am really enjoying the experience. I’m looking forward to do more in the classroom with the students in the weeks to come.