The opportunity to go to Germany for international student teaching was an exciting and adventurous opportunity. While being abroad, I made lots of memories that will last a lifetime. I loved seeing all of the buildings and landscapes in Germany. Some parts were similar to Iowa due to them having lots of corn fields. Then I got to see how different the buildings are from the United States. While student teaching, we also had a week break for their fall recess. We decided to go to Paris, France for five days. I loved being able to experience both Germany and France in the short amount of time while studying abroad. Living and working in another country has taught me new skills that I didn't know I needed. I made lots of new friendships and learned more about the world through this experience.
My most valuable learning experience would be learning about all of the cultures in the international school. I taught students from the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Poland, Turkey, and more. I loved learning about all of the cultures and what they celebrate. The school is very inclusive and teaches the students about traditions and holidays happening around the world. I was very lucky to be a part of this and experience all the fun activities they get to do in the classroom. I learned how I can be inclusive in my own classroom. It's important to celebrate diversity and make each student feel welcomed in the classroom.
My most memorable experience would have to be going to Berlin for a weekend with the other students from Iowa State. We rode a couple of trains to get to Berlin and stayed there for three days. We got to see how historical this city was and all that it has to offer. Some of the most memorable places we visited was the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, The Holocaust Museum, and seeing parts of the Berlin Wall. Berlin is a beautiful city with so many activities to do. The river and buildings made the city fun to walk around in. We learned a lot of history while being there, but also experienced how many fun experiences they have to offer as well.
What did you not expect?
Something that surprised me were the students at the school I taught in. I was placed teaching 6th, 8th, and 9th grade. While teaching, I saw how confident some students were in themselves, and I saw students who were more shy about speaking English to me. Some were afraid that their English wasn't good enough. I definitely didn't expect this coming in to teach English. Because this school is an international school, some students have only been there a couple of years and don't know as much English. I made sure to comfort the students and say that all of their English is amazing. Especially only learning it for a couple of years. I made sure to create a class culture that was welcoming and safe for them. This allowed us to bond more and be confident in ourselves. They even taught me some German and French while on breaks. This made me think about applying this to my future classroom. Even if students are in middle school, they may be self-conscious about their speaking ability. I learned how to help these students in building their confidence. I know that I will approach my classroom in a similar way.
What advice would you give?
Don't be afraid to take the chance on something amazing. I had never left the United States before this experience, and was a little afraid of leaving for a couple of months. The experiences and new skills you learn are something that will last a lifetime. As you live there, make sure to take it all in and document what made you smile that day. These moments are something you can look back on and cherish.
How has this experience impacted your life?
This experience has made me appreciate how curious students are about the world. While teaching with my 6th and 8th graders, I was able to see how many questions they had about everything. Not only about what they were currently, but also my life in the United States. It was fun answering their questions and learning about them as well. When we teach, we need to make sure to learn a lot about our students. Build these meaningful connections and learn about what makes us unique.
How did you learn about this experience?
I first learned about student teaching abroad during EDUC 216, a class for elementary education students their freshman year. I was amazed at how many places Iowa State offered education majors to go for student teaching.International Connections