Monday, 24 August was my first day at school. My new workplace: Einsteingymnasium in Potsdam, near Berlin. And it felt a bit strange indeed. How would the colleagues in Potsdam organise the first days of the new school year?
The first appointment was at nine: breakfast at Zur Historischen Mühle, a restaurant just behind the beautiful Park Sanssouci and Prussian emperor Frederick The Great's Rococo palace. The palaces in park Sanssouci became officially recognised UNESCO world heritage sites in 1990. The palace was built to fulfil King Frederick's need for a private residence where he could relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the Berlin court. The palace's name comes from the French phrase (sans souci), meaning "no worries", symbolising that the palace was a place for relaxation rather than a seat of power.
Potsdam Erasmus+ coordinator Elke Garate, co-coordinator Christopher Schütze and headmaster Irene Krogmann-Weber gave me a warm welcome and introduced me to my new colleagues. Surprise, surprise - and what a coincidence - another new colleague happens to be a fellow Belgian: Pascal Waegeneire. He will teach Spanish, French and English and used to study - just like me - in Brussels. It was nice to know that we will be able to discuss the most difficult school issues in Dutch. Oh yes, by the way, all new teachers got a rose from the Schulleiterin and a personal introduction in the presence of all staff members. On top of that, the Erasmus+ team gave me a typical Schultüte; a large cardboard cone filled with sweets and goodies that is traditionally given to children on their first day of school. Mine contained my favourite Haribo sweets, some useful teaching tools and a small bottle of... well, try to guess. I'll keep it until I need it. What a nice gesture! I'm lucky to have such nice new colleagues!
As a teacher of the German language it's a dream to be able to work in full immersion but I must admit: what exactly is a Förderplan, Darstellendes Spiel, fachspezifisches Methodenkompetenztraining, Notenspiegel and what's the difference between Klausuren, Klassenarbeiten, Orientierungsarbeiten and andere Leistungsnachweise? I'm told not to worry. I'll find out soon enough, I'm sure.
What else did I learn during the meetings? All language teachers (Latin, German, French, Spanish and English) met and discussed general issues concerning continuous assessment methods, project proposals and the planning of school trips. I was given an interesting so-called "evaluation sheet for oral participation". I'll certainly discuss its usefulness with my colleagues in Leuven. The use of the Zensos electronic class administration system both for marks (Notenbuch), absences and late arrivals (Fehlzeiterfassung), was also quite interesting. Teachers at Einstein-Gymnasium will have to log in at the start of each lesson to register their pupils' attendance electronically. The automatically generated summaries, lists and even letters of warning to parents are a real advantage. O yes, the music classroom is an absolute gem!
Tomorrow I'll be supervising a Spanish exam and helping with the preparation of the classrooms before I head back to Leuven to wish my wife and children all the best for the new school year. I'll be back on Sunday evening though, ready to start on Monday.
Finally, for all my former pupils: Would you like to see materials for a musical lesson, like the ones we used to have? My first days in Potsdam inspired me to prepare a lesson based on German-Moroccan star Namika. Click the following link to access it.
Enjoy! Hope you'll like it.