- dinner at Straub's Krone is always a high, and I think we might have dined there three times this month. One spontaneous visit was because of this weekend special (lamb):
- despite the lengthy low you'll see below, I still enjoy teaching German in Germany!
- beginning to interview another refugee from Syria for my local project. His story has been hard to hear at times - I cannot imagine going through what he experienced last year - but I feel genuinely privileged that he has been willing to share it with me. I'll be spending some time this weekend putting my notes into text.
- my new home office arrangement. M set me up with a double-screen system with two obnoxiously large screens, and I'm somewhat afraid that I'll never be satisfied with just my laptop (which is tucked under the screen on the right in a docking station) again. Now I can have my Wörterbuch open on the left while typing a text on the right.
- several days of unexplained and annoying shoulder pain that mutated overnight (last night) to pain that prevents me from moving and using my arm normally without whimpering. It's my right shoulder, so I'm trying to do most things with my left hand now. That doesn't work for writing on the board, and I can't lift my hand/arm above shoulder-height without shooting pain. I jokingly posted on Facebook a few days ago that I should start riding again, since my hip pain got much better only after I started riding. As of today I wouldn't be able to lift the saddle onto the horse's back. Ibuprofen has been as helpful as TicTacs, and I'm feeling old and broken.
- the big one: doubting my ability to teach well enough. I've told the director of the language program at the VHS that I am available to teach a full Integrationskurs (600 hours of language instruction + 60 hours of Orientation Course) starting sometime this fall. Today I'm full of self-doubt.
The thing that's been troubling me lately is that approximately half of my students come 1-2 hours late to class and/or leave an hour early, and many of those same students concentrate on their Handys while they're there. They are adults, and I don't feel right treating them like children (i.e. telling them to put their phones away, scolding them for being late, etc.). I enjoy teaching, and I am passionate about teaching German. I love the language, despite - and sometimes even because of - its complexities! I surely understand it's not easy to learn, but foreigners (like me!) living in Germany need to learn it in order to work and thrive in the community,
When someone is focusing on his Handy during my class, that is a loud and clear message to me that he (or she) is not interested in what I am trying to teach him. It's the electronic version of flipping me the Stinkefinger, as the Germans call it. Imagine a student sitting in a class for an hour just showing his middle finger to the teacher and doing nothing else (occasionally putting the finger down to read a few sentences when called upon). That's what smartphone use in class is to me.
I'm not talking about checking the meaning of a word or googling something connected to what we're learning. I'm talking about students completely blocking me out. Eye contact from the students who give it has become a warm fuzzy for me.
The other thing I assume is that they don't care whether they learn enough to pass the final test or not. I can't force them to care. They're old enough to realize that if they don't learn, they're not going to pass the test.
Obviously if I were a better and more interesting teacher, my students wouldn't be so focused on their Handys and Facebook during the 3 1/2 hours of class. One of my students told me today that it was definitely not like that with their former teacher. Everyone came and left punctually, and Handys were used at most for looking up words. This student seemed as baffled as I am. Clearly I am doing something wrong.
I throughly enjoy the interaction with the students who are engaged. I like to see them learn and progress, and I will continue to spend hours every afternoon and evening - gladly! - planning lessons, creating activities, writing worksheets and practice quizzes for them. I am fully there for the students who are willing to do whatever they need to do to learn. I am sad about the other ones.
- frankly, I miss my "Dream Team" - my first group of students at the Hermann-Hesse-Kolleg. When that class ended, I considered giving up teaching (again), because I knew it could never be that good with any other group. My next ever-changing group at the HHK went well, too, but I fear I've made a mistake in continuing.
- my failed attempt to drive to Esslingen earlier this week
- the disappearance of the "Blogs I Read" thingy (gadget?) in the margin. WTH, Blogger?!?
That's all. I'm going to curl up on the sofa with my bum shoulder and a light-weight book and try to think about something else.
Have a beautiful October!