Friday, November 11, 2011

First week of cover teaching

Now that I have my work permit, I was able to start cover (substitute) teaching at the international school this week. I think that cover is a much better word than substitute - it makes me sound more important anyway.

I worked at least part of the day every day this week. It was weird - I had to do my chores around the house in the evening, or didn't do them at all, and I couldn't go grocery shopping in middle of the day or take 2 hour bike rides. It's funny how quickly I got used to setting my own schedule.

A lot of things about cover teaching this week reminded me of what it's like to have a new job. I didn't know where all the bathrooms are. I didn't know that I was supposed to have a key to unlock the rooms until Tuesday morning when I found that my room was locked. I wasn't sure who I should bother talking to in the staff lounge, or if it was worth hanging out there at all.

I observed a few classes but basically jumped right in to covering classes for teachers who were sick or away for some reason. I had English and ESL and math, history, chemistry (!), Spanish and even German. I did ok - no one made me cry or injured any other students. The only property damage that was done was by me accidentally writing on a dry erase board with a permanent marker. (The 7th graders were eager to show me that you can fix that by writing over it with a dry erase marker and then erasing it all. I got them to do that for me). I need to learn their names and work on being, as Brian says, "in command." I need to have authority but not be too mean or distant. I want them to like me but not so much that they won't listen when I tell them what to do. Luckily these kids are really good and respectful for the most part. I just need to give myself some time to get better.

It's a good thing that our clothes finally arrived because I have all these work outfits to wear to school now. I did learn, however, the limits of biking to school in a skirt. It's common here to see people riding bikes to work in heels and suits and all manner of formal clothes, so I figured I could do it too. I learned that the wider, more twirly skirts are ok, as are sweater dresses, but I don't recommend riding in a straight skirt even if it has a slit at the back. I tried that on Wednesday - it made a loud ripping noise as I got on the bike.

So the first week is out of the way, and I at least know a few names, where the bathrooms are, and where to get a key. I kind of enjoy talking to 12 year olds too, unless I am trying to explain math problems to them.

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About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.