Saturday, June 20, 2009
A load off my shoulders
So I am just about to burst with pride, pass the frick out. So German schools are intense, and the manifestation of this is the "Abitur," the exit exam. It is so wild that the year 13s stop going to school after Easter to study for it. It is a beast.
Well, in the classes that don't automatically prep kids for the test, there are still kids who are taking it, and in an effort to make things a bit more fair to them I was deployed to take the group of 6-8 students for half their class time to prepare grammar stuff, writing tips, strategy. This class was a considerable source of stress for me, since I have NEVER even SEEN an abi, and it got worse when I was move to taking them during both hours of their English instruction, just us working.
It was sometimes a disaster (like the day when none of the girls showed up and the boys weren't in a working place...you know which day that was) and sometimes hella productive, but it stressed me, so I talked to their teacher.
I explained that while I might have all the skills needed to ace the test, I am not qualified to teach the skills AND content for this test specifically. He was very understanding and took them for an extra hour.
After Easter break, when they weren't required to be at school, they came back, even the one kid from another teacher's class, to do some last minute, specific tutoring out on the field by the school in the sun. I am still shocked that they came by, and that they were so nice to me. I mean, I was teaching them the most annoying part of my language, and they still greeted me with smiles.
We had been doing worksheets, discussions, and I would create 3 prompts for their writing (based on articles I found) on things I thought might be topical or moderately interesting (lolcats were one topic) just to get them working. There was a lot of stress about it, so for two hours I held a "calm down" office hour, where I distributed little good luck cards I'd made for them.
The day they took it I was nervous, and the teachers, who administered the test, weren't telling me how the so-called "Kate Army of Champions" fared. Then today they got the results!
The kiddos all passed!!! Even the ones who failed other tests (don't get your spirits down, guys. You know you are ninjas, and chemi/physics are REALLY hard) passed English. I realize that this did not have excessively much to do with me, but I don't think I HARMED their preparations too much, so EPIC WIN in that spirit of that Edward James Olmos movie where they take the calculus AP test (whatever it is called).
I danced with some of them in the hall when I found out their results (13!!! Woot!!) and got/gave a hearty bear hug to the ones who were particularly excited (sorry if it made you guys feel awkward to have an American hug).
One guy, a real sweetie who did awesome and would have without me, and who would come to my English coffee hour to shoot the shit, told me (probably jokingly) "beste Unterricht die ich gehabt hab.'" That translates to "best instruction I've had." I will not go that far, but if you listen to my year 9s I am definitely the weirdest.