My first day at IGS Roderbruch

I’m writing this in the wonderful world of Starbucks. Because I have nothing better to do right now (though I have just been clothes shopping alone which I’m quite proud of).

But anyway, (granddad next to the fireplace with his pipe again), let me tell you about my first day at IGS Roderbruch…

I woke up at the wonderful time of 6:15am, ready to leave the house to catch the S-Bahn at the nearby station at 7:27am (I very nearly missed it, but don’t tell anyone).

After getting to the school at 8am, I successfully found my way to the foreign language staff room (I was doubting myself beforehand because it’s a little like a maze/a lot of places look identical in the school), and was thankfully greeted by the smiley face of Ilka, along with other staff. I didn’t really have a plan for the day; it was basically ‘ask teachers if you can go to their classes if you’re interested in that year group’, which I actually quite prefer, because it gives me the choice, despite me not actually knowing what year group each teacher teaches.

The classes are a little different to what I experienced at school, in that there are basically 4 double lessons throughout the day, each with 10/15 minutes in between (though I think there’s a bigger break between the 3rd and 4th class), and each double class is 90 minutes long.

Firstly, I headed to a Year 13 group who were being taught by Ilka. Wiebke, a girl on placement, was also helping out. The topic was American Dream, and we also touched on the Declaration of Independence. Basically, I had to ask Ilka what some of the words meant, as well as how to pronounce one of them (“presided“?). Though I picked myself back up when I was asked if Ilka pronounced certain words correctly (though the first one she asked was ‘alliance’, and I wasn’t quite sure what she was actually asking about it, so I looked at her vaguely and kind of laughed and said ‘wha…what?’ The students laughed, and thankfully so did Ilka). The text was unbelievably challenging, and I think my jaw dropped a few times when they were set tasks, especially when Ilka asked the class to translate a section of the Declaration of Independence into everyday German. I’m just glad I was watching rather than helping teaching, otherwise I would have made an absolute fool of myself. It also turned out that, though most of the class were 18 or 19 years old, there were a few who were 20, and even a girl who was 21, which felt a bit weird knowing that I was in the teacher’s position and someone older than me was a student. But despite that, it was really interesting to witness my first English class in Germany.

Next, Ilka took me to the primary school section of the school, where I met Sabine, and I helped out with her Year 4 class. These were possibly my favourite. Basically, at the very start, I quickly introduced myself in English nice and slowly, and suddenly Sabine had to leave the classroom quickly, so asked me to get all the children to introduce themselves. So we got into a circle in a little part of the classroom, and we all introduced ourselves, including our names, ages, and where we come from (it honestly felt like my practice lesson back in Altenberg – I found it hard not to laugh). I forgot to mention: at the start, one of the children asked if I can speak German. Sabine said I can only understand a little. When Sabine then left the room, the kids obviously spoke German, so I came to the conclusion that I could lie and say I can understand German perfectly, but I can’t speak a word. And they actually fell for it. It was great fun watching them play the little games, such as when Sabine pretended to be the Queen and demanded the children brought her certain classroom objects.

Then, half way through the class, it was German lesson time, though Sabine said I could stay if I wanted – so I did. I sat there for a good 15 minutes in silence (after being asked a lot in German, and forcing myself to reply slowly in English to hide my true identity), until Sabine finally turned round to me and said I’m allowed to walk around the room and help anyone with their hand up, and that I’m allowed to speak German for this class, to which pretty much every one of the 20 students cried ‘DU SPRICHST DOCH DEUTSCH!’ (You DO speak German!). Just a note there; they all use ‘du’ at the school. They even use ‘du’ to the headteacher. It’s weird, but I’m slowly getting used to it.

After having to sadly turn down a game of football with the 9/10 year olds due to time limit, I headed back to the foreign language staff room to find Ilka again. This time, Ilka basically said I could ask anyone in the room if I can go to their lesson with them. So plucking up courage, I asked about 3 teachers, all of whom had no English lesson next, until finally I asked a teacher called Kathrin (perhaps spelt incorrectly there) and I went with her to her Year 11 class, where they were talking about eating disorders. I quite enjoyed this class too. A lot of the students said ‘hallo!’ to me when I walked in, even though they didn’t know who I was.

I didn’t do much in the lesson other than watch and listen, though I did sometimes throw my opinion in when asked, as well as acted a little bit like a dictionary, which for now isn’t a bad thing at all because it slowly gets me in there, and I seem to have this thing where I can make the students chuckle when I try and think of an answer to a question. I hope it’s chuckle with me and not at me.

Tomorrow, I’ll be helping out with the Year 4s again, in their English and in their German class. Afterwards, the plan is to head to the staff room and, again, ask random teachers if I can come into the lesson with them. Afterwards, I will be going to play badminton with my flatmate Lisa (I have missed badminton so much!) followed by a trip to the pub with the Buddy-Programm I signed up for at the university. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that programme before, but I can save that for another day.