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To Germany, on a Wing and a Prayer
The offer of a job teaching kindergarten in Germany was entirely unexpected, but it turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done.
Standing in the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda, MD, the energy of opportunity surrounding me, I try to take in as much as possible, hoping that a little opportunity will come my way. With over 50 representatives from international schools, and three times as many teachers desperate for a job or new experience, I am one of the few new to the recruiting fair, and also to the world of teaching. It doesn't take much time to realize that the odds of leaving the fair with a job are not in my favor.
However, with a little luck and blind faith an opportunity
eventually did come my way. I interviewed with the head of a
network of schools, and despite my limited teaching
experience I was offered a position. My optimism and sense of
adventure must have made up for it. I took a job teaching
kindergarten in Germany with no real idea of where I would be
living, or how to speak German. The only thing I knew was I
would be teaching one of two kindergarten classes at a school
in its first year of opening.
Fast forward three months, and I was standing in the airport
on my way to Germany. When I arrived, I quickly learned that
flexibility and patience would probably be the two traits
most tested and most necessary. This proved true for both
having a successful year as a teacher and living in a new
The first surprising news was that I would be teaching the
3-4 year old kindergarten class and that my group of students
was not an international mix, but rather a group of German
Slowly but surely the students learned English, became less shy speaking, and even learned the initial stages of reading in English. The transformation from the beginning of the year to the end was inspiring. That Spring, when prospective students came in to visit the school with their parents for the following year, my class would make sure everyone knew that they spoke English and German and that Ms. Singer only spoke English.
Teaching kindergarten abroad was one of the best things I have done. I learned many things about teaching, but more importantly I learned about life in general. Those were the lessons both inside and outside the classroom. Interacting with my students for the year made me realize that going to another country is much like being a four year-old again--only harder, because as an adult it is hard to be so big-eyed and smiley about everything. As an adult you can recognize the things you like and dislike, but you still have to push yourself through the hard parts. The temper tantrum just won't work when you're trying to negotiate your internet and phone contract in a language that you have just started learning!
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