In the weeks after the final days of our wonderful trip to Germany it's been hard to sit and write one last blog. This is partly because it's been nonstop traveling for me and but mostly because writing the last blog means this experience has officially come to an end. My time in the German classroom has really left me thinking about my future classroom and has given me endless ideas that I will someday use.
Some of this ideas and strategies include how the children interact with the teacher. As much as the teacher expects the students to be independent, they are still very caring and provide the support, emotionally and mentally, that the children need to grow and to learn. This is especially true in the case of Tanja's classroom. She would constantly allow the students to express how they feel about situations and to self assess their attitude and work. This is one of the things I found to be so vital to the way her classroom functioned and it was inspiring. I feel that if the students feel comfortable and open with how they feel it breaks down so many barriers and develops a relationship with learning that is affectionate instead of scary. In the U.S. it may be difficult to take as much time as we want teaching a topic because of the tests, and we cannot adjust an entire schools schedule in order to give the students a two hour, but I do think it's possible, and very important to make an effort so every student feels valued and appreciated in the classroom.
I think I value this so much because it meant so much to me that Tanja constantly was concerned with how others feeling. Even with myself, she would ask what I need, how I'm doing away from home, etc. I felt the love she gave all of her students everyday and it made me feel like my time in Germany was important to more than just myself. Traveling abroad has been, by far, one of the best decisions I've made for myself and my future career. I feel like I now have more of my own voice in regards to learning. Having another perspective of a system that I grew up with has enlightened me. I know what I can do to make myself different than any other teacher.
I'm so thankful for this experience that has taught me how important it is to reflect on everything we do. We reflect on how we teach, how we react to situations, what we say to others, how we adjust in a new environment and so much more. Take a look back and reflecting on my entire experience has been amazing. I feel that analyzing myself while on the trip has been the one thing that had taught me the most. Each time I go back and think about something I am remembering what I did well and what I can do to make things even better. As humans we all do this, but for some reason, this time abroad has made it so clear to me how truly important this is. Without self reflection and analysis, we cannot grow as educators, even as humans.
Approaching my junior year at Buffalo State College, I am a combined major of Early Childhood and Elementary Education with a concentration in English. Teaching is the 'family business' and I have been passionate about the profession since I was very young. It is an honor to be apart of the IPDS Germany cohort this summer.