Schools in Germany vs. Schools in America

After a week of student teaching in a German school building containing 5th-12th graders, I’ve seen many similarities and differences between German schools and American schools. I’m just going to jump right into it and tell you all about the schooling here! First of all, elementary schools are only 1st-4th grade. Kindergarten is for children ages 3-6. 5th-12th graders are all in one school together here in Germany.. This was the first thing that really surprised me! Most of the students in Germany ride their bikes to schools instead of taking a bus, walking, or having their parents drive them. The school I’m at even has a parking garage just for bikes! In Germany, teachers switch classes instead of the students switching classes. Each class has their own classroom and they stay in that classroom and different teachers come to them. This means no teacher has his/her own classroom. I found this really surprising! Another thing that really shocked me was that in between each class, teachers and students have a break! The first break is 25 minutes and each break after that is at least 5 minutes. In that break, teachers go to the teachers’ lounge and students can hang out outside or inside the building. This was really nice! The students automatically know when to go to their class. They go immediately to their classroom, sit down, and wait for the teacher to arrive. When the teacher enters the classroom, the students greet the teacher by saying, “Good morning madam/sir or Good morning Mrs. ______/Mr. ______.” I absolutely loved this and found it very respectful. I quickly realized the students here are extremely respectful to both their peers and adults in the school. A lot of the classrooms in the school still have chalkboards, which was new to me because the school I student taught at in Bowling Green only had whiteboards and ActivBoards. What is really crazy to me is most of the schools don’t have wifi. That shocked me because a lot of the things I did with the students during student teaching required internet access. This really made me think outside the box of ways to engage students other than using technology. This has also made me realize how lucky we are in our schools back at home to have the privileges we do, like having internet access in the classrooms. The school schedules are very different than school schedules in America. Students end their days at different times of the day. Sometimes they might go to 7 classes, and other times they might only go to 4 or 5 classes. This means a lot of the time, they go home at 1:15 unless they have afternoon classes. They usually only have afternoon classes once or twice a week. Another difference is that they keep their school building unlocked all day. This is very different than America because in America, you may only enter school buildings by checking in through the front office first because all other doors are secured and locked. The last difference I found is many students go home for lunch instead of eating at school. There is at least one similarity between schools in Germany and schools in America. All the teachers come ready to teach everyday with a smile on their face and genuinely care about each and every one of their students! Whether you’re a teacher in Germany, the United States, or somewhere else, your main job is to love and care for all your students and teach them what they need to know to become educated and successful adults later in life!

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