Education Gelsenkirchen Style!

June 2, 2012 at 12:42 am 1 comment

Children are the same regardless of whether they play soccer on a large grassy field or play on a small paved fenced yard, devoid of any playing structures. They play hard, they laugh with friends, chatter in a variety of languages, and groan at the sound of the bell, before they rush back to their classes and their teachers.

My vocational day in Gelsenkirchen was very much like a day in a school in Abbotsford, B.C. Students in classrooms, in desks, chattering enthusiastically, stealing looks at the stranger in their midst, until called to attention by their teacher. Even with language differences, once instruction began more similarities between our schools were readily apparent. Effective instruction remains constant—planned prepared teachers, with known lesson objectives, teacher led and student centered activities, visual/oral/kinesthetic learning, and the list continues!  For the most part, students were enthusiastic and engaged in their lessons and accordingly they ended the lesson and left the class having met the day’s objectives.

The differences, while small, were significant Abbotsford children and teachers have so much more in terms of classroom and school resources. In my school each classroom comes with a full range of resources, including both teacher and student computers, full access to mobile and static computer labs, a huge well stocked library complete with thousands of books that can be signed out, an abundance of support staff, and a diversity of school purchased teacher resources to augment instruction. When it came to resources, the school I visited was not so lucky. While the basics were in place, the extras were missing. Teachers want the resources but funding is often targeted and the extras are not easily accessed. Nonetheless, the learning was evident and the rapport between staff and students was readily evident.

Teachers appear to be facing similar issues—diversity within the classrooms, the need for differentiated instruction, motivational concerns, students with learning challenges, parents struggling to support learning when they do not speak the language of the country, aggression amongst and between students, scarce resources, and never enough time to meet all the needs of all the students. Teachers in the school I visited, were experienced, engaged, enthusiastic, and were prepared for the challenges and yet they do not have any paid preparation time—it all happens outside of the instructional day! Teachers are expected to purchase their own teacher copy of resources used in the class (these are not co-curricular resources extras but core curricular resources). They need to encourage parents to purchase required workbooks, to pay various instructional fees (photocopy fees, etc.) and many parents, here and in Abbotsford, cannot stretch their budget to cover these costs. Budget shortfalls impacts student instruction in a very real way—if there are not sufficient funds to hire a teacher, the instructional day is shorter for some students and longer for others (more on that later.) And these teachers do what they can with what they have, keeping their eye on the objective—increasing student achievement.

My lasting memories of the day will include the time spent with Bettina Weiss, an English teacher with an enthusiasm for her school and for her students, as we discussed educational issues candidly and with hope for the future. Memories of being viewed as a celebrity, complete with autograph signing and picture taking sessions with the eager students, will never fade! I started and ended the day, like I do at home, with a smile, with children’s laughter and with quiet acknowledgement from parents waiting to collected their treasures—it was a great day!

Marie with some of her “fans”!

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Entry filed under: Team Blog.

Coal Mining Memory! Gelsenkirchen

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. billrobson1  |  June 3, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Great pics Marie.

    Reply

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