Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fall Break travels

If you're interested, my personal blog has some new entries about my travels during Fall Break:

New Skype Program

Here is a little update on the skype program we have begun this year:

I believe the idea for the project was Devin Horne's and he, Karl Fink and Romy Schuster did a lot of the brainstorming for the project.  This fall we've begun and tackled many issues ranging from recruitment to scheduling to technology.  But it has been a rewarding activity.

The program consists of weekly meetings of a group of MLS students and a group of St. Olaf students who communicate electronically via a program called skype.  Lea Scheuble has been facilitating the St. Olaf group.  She is an exchange student at St. Olaf from Germany who is the German House Resident.  The MLS students get to practice their English and the St. Olaf students get to practice their German.  And, we have the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues that contribute to cultural exchange.

I look forward to seeing the program grow as the year progresses and hopefully continue in future years.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Last week my eighth grade class had its parents' night (Elternabend).  Needless to say, I was quite nervous.  I knew that my German speaking and listening skills were sub-par for communicating with the parents.  And I also knew that my class hadn't been going perfectly.  The students' behavior had been a challenge, and as a result, not every student was learning as much as he or she could have.  As parents and the other teachers arrived in the room, it was helpful to hear from another teacher that she also gets nervous for these nights, partially because she is younger than the parents (though not as much as I).

I explained some things about my classroom and as expected, the parents had some questions.  It's not always easy to hear criticism.  One said that her child was not understanding the homework prompts.  Another said her child wasn't understanding the new grammar we were learning.  Answering these parents in German was a challenge.  It was difficult for me to be as subtle and diplomatic as I wished to be.  I actually didn't know whose mothers they were, but if the students weren't understanding, it's definitely important to make adjustments.  I hope I got that across in a polite and reassuring manner.  I remember learning in an education class at St. Olaf about ensuring the parents were on your team and I now understand why that is important.
Anyway, I am learning a lot here about teaching and how to interact with students.  I have especially appreciated the opportunities to speak with students outside of class or school.  It's hard to believe I've already been here for over two months!