If you asked me, “What is the one thing that you have learned over the past 11 weeks that is most important to you?” I would reply with this…
With my stay in Berlin coming to an end, I have only a few more school days before I fly home! I have learned so much about myself both in and outside of the classroom.
In the classroom, I have grown as a future educator. My experiences have strengthened my ability to integrate creativity, try new behavior management techniques, incorporate technology, and create lessons that are directly linked to the needs (and interests) of my students. Throughout the past seven weeks of teaching on my own I have “tripped and fell” several times. There were moments that I thought I was not going to know what to say, plan, or be able to think on the spot to make changes. There were moments that I wanted students attention and struggled to get (and keep) it. There were moments that lessons were going way off track and needed to be brought back to focus. These moments of struggle put together, all from my teaching experience, have taught me quite a bit about myself.
I know that I am more creative than I thought. I know that being silly sometimes is necessary (adjusting our “thinking caps,” teachers included). I know that giving clear instructions are essential. I know that trying new classroom management techniques is a bit nerve wracking, but worth it. I was surprised at what worked, and what didn’t. I know that collaboration with other teachers is not only helpful to me, but to my students as well. I know that student collaboration is just as important as teacher collaboration.
I know that I am beyond blessed to have been placed at such a great school! I have shared many laughs, stories, and experiences with the staff at BBS. Like the students, they come from all over the world- the diversity and teaching experience is incredible!
Outside of the classroom, I have explored and “tripped and fell” along the way. I have ended up lost without a clue of where I was. I have gotten onto the train headed in the wrong direction. I have asked for directions and received a response in German that I could not understand. I have tried so many different types of foods- most that I have really liked (and others not so much). I have had no phone, and survived. I have met kind strangers who have offered to help me. I have traveled to many historical monuments and places, and have learned so much about the history of Berlin. I have walked on land that people can only dream of. I have experienced the excitement of the holiday season, and have visited many Christmas Markets.
It was not always easy. I had difficulty not being able to understand what was going on around me. I had difficult figuring out public transportation. I had difficultly reading directions without the help of technology. I had difficulty gathering enough courage to order food in a new place. I had a hard time adjusting to relying on myself.
I have learned that I am much more capable of going out traveling on my own, interacting with other people (even when we did not speak the same language), making friendships with others who are completely different than myself, and I am most proud of my ability to get lost and find my way back!
In the beginning, teaching on my own was… scary. In the beginning, traveling on my own was… scary. Now I am confident and comfortable with my abilities to teach a class, and to explore any place on a map- both on my own!
I am blessed to have had this experience. I would not trade it for anything. Of course there were moments of panic and homesickness but the happy, exciting, and “ahh ha’s” outweigh the others. It sounds cliche to say that I have changed, but I can honestly say I have changed for the better and have become a more well-rounded, informed, and accepting individual not only outside of the classroom, but inside as well.
I am leaving this post with a bittersweet feeling. I have enjoyed and learned so much from my placement, but I am looking forward to seeing with family and friends. I am looking forward to being back in the classroom I left at the end of September, but am going to miss my classroom here. I am going to miss the Russian, German, or Malay languages being spoken (even though I have no clue what they are saying). I am so excited and looking forward to being home, but I am not sure that eleven weeks was long enough in this beautiful place that has taught me so much.
For anyone who asks me about going abroad- whether it is for a week, for school, for long term, just because… regardless of the reason I would respond, with no hesitation, “Do it! Go! The experience itself will repay and teach you in ways you didn’t even know were possible. You will learn things about yourself you never knew. And lastly, do not stop until you are outside of your comfort zone… that’s where you learn the most!”
I am excited to hear the student teaching experiences of my peers! See you all in January! 🙂