Portrait of William via Gravatar

William Huster

A Small Time CTO Near You

Travel Update #8: Midterms, Internship

As the final exams fly by in the US (for most of you they are already done), I’m taking a little break from studying for my midterms, which are coming up this week.

This is interesting, because it means that I’ve hit the halfway point here. Maybe I’ll write a little halfway-retrospective later.

This past week was the official start to my internship at the Kurt Tucholsky Oberschule in Pankow. Pankow is the northeast area of Berlin. The area is definitely very nice for old east Berlin, although I find the school building itself a little bit old and stuffy, perhaps underfunded.

I am interning primarily under Frau Isensee who teaches English at the school. The kids that I work with range from the 5th grade all the way up to the 12th Grade - a wide and interesting spread. I assist Frau Isensee in class, and she passes me off to other English courses as needed. The art teacher also wants me to help develop projects for kids in the seventh grade.

I began on Monday assisting Frau Isensee with the 12th Grade. The class was mainly a discussion about Media, and the students divided themselves based on two positions: (1) I can live without media and (2) I cannot live without Media. I, of course, fell into the “can’t live without media” camp, so I joined the group and got to know them. Overall, the discussion went well and the kids were focused and friendly.

After that, Frau Isensee passed me off to a 5th grade class. The teacher didn’t assign me a role, so I spent the period wandering around and looking over the kids shoulders as they worked on in-class assignments.

Then the teacher left the room.

Now, despite the fact that I felt a lot more useful directing the classroom myself, I have no formal educational training. So I was rather surprised that she trusted me enough to do this. She did not leave me completely hanging, either. The kids had work to do, and all I really had to do was help, discuss and supervise. The kids were also really well-behaved, probably because they were young enough to still be awed by my presence, and they respected me as an adult.

I’d like to think I did really well, considering it was my first time managing a class like this. Of course, I’ve spent years as a student observing teachers at work, so I’ve got a good grasp of the basics. I had a little more trouble on Friday when I returned to help with a 7th grade class and, once again, the teacher left the room (this time I was responsible for more than half of the class period and wrapping up).

Maybe it was TGIF syndrome, but most of the kids would not focus or even try the exercise, which asked that they practice going into a store and asking the salesperson to help them find an article of clothing. Maybe I set too high standards for myself, because it’s not as if I lost complete control of the class and ended up crying in the corner…. No, it’s just that four or five kids out of the 17 or so there were not at all interested in the lesson, and no matter what I tried, I could not seem to turn them on to the subject.

On the other hand, there were also five or six students who seemed very happy to have me there. They complimented me on my German and stayed to talk with me a little after class. That was very cool.