The thought of orientation was scary for the most part, excitement mixed with the fear of a totally new experience is how many of us would describe it. For the vast majority of student teachers this is a completely new experience, a new country (continent in many cases!), and a scary thought. However, you quickly realise everyone is in the same boat, and if you smile through the nerves and mingle with people you will find yourself making friends very easily. The whole of orientation was spent finding out about the course and chatting to new people, in between all the information. All in all, we can all testify to the fact that, despite terrifying, orientation is in fact a lot of fun and it is so interesting to speak to so many people from diverse backgrounds.
Our first week was spent in an NMS (Neue Mittel Schule or new middle school), mainly observing our Senior Teachers, however we did get plenty of opportunities to join in with songs and activities. The songs were especially helpful to have experience with before your first week teaching! A normal school day consists of an introduction, which helps the students get back into the swing of English, two language intensive periods, two workshop periods, and a period for us to prepare and help our students with their Dramas for Friday’s performance.
The Monday morning alarm was a force to be reckoned with, of all the hurdles I have faced so far, I can definitely say a 5.15am alarm on our first day was the hardest. However, with over an hour-long drive to our school there was plenty of opportunity for napping, and by 1 o’clock when the school days ends, this felt like a lifetime ago. A lot of coffee was consumed that first morning… and most mornings since. The next three days blurred into one, by Thursday we had settled into more of a routine, and were used to the Austrian day layout, which varies slightly in every school, but will generally be set up as 6 fifty-minute periods.
This first week was an invaluable experience, being able to see 3 different teachers, all with different experiences in various countries, teaching various ages, cultures and capabilities is definitely a unique perk to this course. Now having had teaching experience, and peer observation experience I can see how this has affected all of our teaching as some of us have picked up a combination of teacher’s techniques, and others have focused on one teacher.
Friday is a day which we found ourselves running on adrenaline, even more so than on Monday. The day itself is short as the performance flies by, and the morning will be spent practicing and certificate giving. Despite the fact we did not teach on our first week, all of the Student Teachers still felt a buzz for the day ahead. We arrived earlier than usual in order to have adequate time to prepare. Overall, our first week was both a shock to all of our systems and a sobering experience to see how big an impact teaching can have on a student’s life. This realisation has only become more real with every week and is definitely a thought to be remembered on days you question your own sanity for choosing to be a teacher. Seeing how much the students had improved from our first impressions on Monday morning to our final goodbyes on Friday was an incredible feeling, and one I can tell will not wear off as the weeks progress.
Written by Hannah Wilson