A day in the life of...
My day starts at 6.30am when I have a little breakfast, which will hopefully give me enough energy to see me through until lunch. I take the underground to my primary school in Berlin-Pankow and arrive at 7.15am to prepare for the day.
I teach German and maths to the 3rd grade (eight- to nine-year-olds) and English to the 4th grade. Getting everything printed for my classes by 7.45am is a challenge as I share one copy machine with 30 colleagues.
A few pupils are already in school by 6.30am. They are supervised by educators who also look after them at the end of the school day, from 1.30pm until 4.30pm. We call this Ganztagesschule - all-day school.
I work only until 1.45pm as I am just finishing my practical year but I stay behind to organise lessons for the next day. I try to keep work out of my private life but this is not very easy. The school is located in a very difficult district in Berlin.
As I wait for the pupils to arrive in my classroom, I think about the challenges that might hit me, which could be educational or social.
The children are kind, they try their best and I love working with them, especially the ones who have to cope with a lot. There are days when I know a pupil will challenge me because something has gone wrong at home or they have had a fight, so they are trying to get attention by being disruptive.
I also try to teach the children about etiquette, as some of them still haven't learned to say please or thank you. Bullying is a big problem, and it takes patience and very sensible teaching to get the students to understand the effect their actions can have on others.
One of the biggest daily challenges is capturing the children's attention. I have realised that they need to be inspired to be interested in what I am trying to teach them. They are all at different levels and have different interests, but it is an exciting and fun challenge to get the whole class motivated about the same topic.
The most important thing I have learned so far is that children need rules and boundaries, and will sometimes actually ask for them. They need daily routines and to have someone as a constant guide throughout the week.
For me, teaching is the greatest job. My childhood was guided by my parents and many other adults, and I try now to provide this for my pupils. Every day can be a challenge as I have to work to keep them focused, while knowing that they are confronted every day by problematic situations at home. I do my best to give them a quiet and comfortable area to learn in.
Working in such a socially difficult district has taught me that parents sometimes need to be reminded of their duties to their children. The young people can learn and I will teach them everything they need to know, but the parents need to help as well. It works best for the children if we all work together and try to encourage them so they are willing and eager.
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