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 The end of September brought not only my first half marathon but also this realization: a date that once seemed so far away had come—and is now gone!   October now greets me with sore muscles and the need to take twice as long going up and down the stairs, but that will ease with time.  I’ve learned quite a bit this past week—not only that I can run 13.1 miles, but the importance of modeling while teaching, how much I’ve missed pumpkin foods, and how to cut hair!

The poems my students brought in on Tuesday were absolutely fantastic—they used figurative language, played with the point of view, even used rhyme scheme!  In that class, we continued looking at poems this week—Thomas Hardy’s “The Man He Killed,” Robert Frost’s “Not to Keep,” and Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”  I hit a stumbling block when some of the students volunteered to read the poems they had written out loud (I love how willing they are!) because I wasn’t sure how to encourage peer responses without leaving dead air where the writer might be left feeling inadequate.  This is definitely something I want to work on with them, but also something I need to model—I can’t expect them to know how if I don’t show them first!  Overall, though, that class has been absolutely wonderful.  Isabelle, my cooperating teacher, shared with me that one of the girls had been talking about me in Luxembourgish and shared that I was good at “making things straightforward and easy to understand,” which made me really happy.

The Premiere students are a little more difficult to work with, but I’m definitely learning things from them, too.  We jumped in to To Kill a Mockingbird this week, and I’m slowly realizing how much of a challenge this is for them.  In doing so, though, I’m also making it a challenge for myself—challenging myself to think like a lower-level reader and provide the support that they need.  I’d like to teach them some reading strategies along the way, but hoping that they won’t be too resistant.  They aren’t the most talkative class, and I have a feeling that they know I’m not too much older than them (for some students, only two years older), which doesn’t seem to be helping.  To Kill a Mockingbird is a book that I love, though, so I’m eager to share it with them, even if it does take a bit of extra effort in order to explain the cultural aspects of the story.

This week also brought two new classes for me to work with—a 6e class, which is the first year of English, and the English Theater option (elective) class.  The 6e students were fun to work with—we had them writing every day skits (ordering food, buying a bus ticket, etc.) and performing them for the class, and it was somewhat comforting to know that, for once, I knew more German than they knew English!  Then, of course, I realized that this was their fourth language and German was only my second, but it was still extremely helpful in helping them.  The Theater option class is run by an Englishman, and they work towards a production in the Spring.  I obviously won’t be around for that, but I’m just around to help out where I can.  Isabelle said that the Fulbright student from last year helped out with pronunciation exercises and things like that, so I’m expecting some of the same.

Outside of school, we met with our supervisor and the coordinator for field experiences (like student teaching) this week in order to answer questions about the TPA (our assessment) and just get together to talk about our placements.  This was actually the first of two dinners I had this week, the second being a department dinner with the rest of the English teachers, and it was really nice to get to know a few more people rather than just depending on Isabelle all the time.  As a result of the dinner, I observed someone else’s class on Friday!  They actually had a really interesting discussion about “true love” based on an article they had read which talked about how the very people who made marriage more about love—actors in Hollywood—are the ones who treat marriage more as a business agreement, something to get their names in the papers, etc.

The weekend brought my first ever hair-cutting experience, a pumpkin festival, and, of

course, the half marathon.  Kit, one of the other student teachers here, did not want to pay to get his hair cut (or deal with the language barriers), so he enlisted Kayla, Tina, and I to help him out.  We tag-teamed the whole ordeal and managed to get the job done without anything too horrendous happening (and the hair cut looks okay, too!).  We also visited the Chocolate House (chocolate on a spoon that you mix in to warm milk) and went to the pumpkin festival (Kurbiswochenende) near Mersch, which satisfied my cravings for pumpkin food (pumpkin bread, éclairs, soup, champaign…), even if it wasn’t quite as good as pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

After the race!

The half marathon itself went well, too!  The most I had run before was 11 miles at cross country practice in high school (and ten while training here), so I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to go.  I was fortunate enough to befriend a man who was running about the same pace as me (he must have been in his sixties), because going at it alone was pretty rough at times.  We ended up running together for about nine of the 13 miles, and I even met his granddaughter after the race!  The race was called the “Route du Vin,” which I’m pretty sure translates to “path of wine” or something like that, because it runs all through the wine country along the Moselle River between Luxembourg and Germany (we also received a bottle of wine with our registration).  It was an out-and-back route, so on the way out, the vinyards were on my left and the river on my right, and then it was the opposite on the way back.  Aside from beautiful views, there were also people all along the route, cheering us on with glasses of wine in their hands.  Some people went all out, pulling out armchairs and settling in!  We had beautiful weather, though, and finishing felt really good!  The first thing they handed me after finishing (after my medal), was a cup of alcohol-free beer.  It didn’t make much sense to me, but I needed something, so I drank it!  In all honesty, though, I think the sugar helped, and I found some water and apples after that.

This week brings a visit from my supervisor, dinner at the Chateau with our cooperating teachers, and more adventures in student teaching!  I can’t wait.