Aside from slowly letting my muscles recover, this week was all about planning. In an effort to make the most of my days off (while still allowing for the chance that I’ll be able to pick up more classes), I’ve been tentatively planning day trips for my Mondays and Thursdays. Ironically, I spent today planning for those days, but I also put in some solid work on my TPA, the assessment that I need to complete, so I think I used my time pretty well.
Tuesdays are typically my busiest days, and this past week was no exception: not only was that the day my supervisor came to visit, that night MUDEC hosted a dinner for the STEP students and their cooperating teachers. It was really nice to meet everyone else’s cooperating teachers—and get a high-quality free meal out of the bargain as well! My supervisor’s visit went pretty well, too. She’s definitely a strong believer in positive reinforcement, although sometimes I wouldn’t mind a few pieces of constructive criticism as well. It was pointed out to me this week, however, that your first year teaching, unless it’s actually in the same district, is rarely the same as your student teaching placement, regardless of location. That was some comfort, especially since I sometimes worry that I’m in a protective bubble with highly motivated and well-disciplined students.
The rest of my week was spent observing classes, prepping my students for our guest
speaker’s visit tomorrow (my housemate’s boyfriend is from Australia, and he’s visiting her this week, so he’ll be our guest speaker!), and doing my best to increase comprehension for To Kill a Mockingbird. Isabelle and I did our first round of joint grading on Friday, which was pretty interesting and went against pretty much everything I had ever learned in my assessment classes. It was also a little difficult because while I was looking for good personal connections and a demonstrated use of understanding where poetic devices were concerned, I know Isabelle was also keeping an eye out for their use of English grammar, something that wouldn’t necessarily factor prominently in an assignment like this for me. She may have had some sort of rubric in her head, but I found myself making one up as we went along, because otherwise it seemed like she was arbitrarily assigning points. Okay, maybe not completely arbitrarily—she vocalized a few factors, like how much detail the student went into and how many grammatical mistakes were made, but I never really felt like there was a specific amount of points allotted for any one aspect. Isabelle, is, however, department chair for a reason—she seems to get along really well with her students, they respect her for it, and she knows what she’s talking about in terms of language instruction.
This weekend was pretty calm—I went to a museum on Saturday called the Musee der drei Eicheln, or “museum of the three acorns,” which was about the fortress of Luxembourg and the various expansion projects. They also had a really interesting temporary exhibit about Luxembourgish identity. The exhibit mostly just reported the results of a survey, but the presentation was one of the most interesting I’ve ever seen. Each room of this “house” represented a different aspect of identity: the children’s room values, the bedroom sexuality, the bathroom body image, the living room nationality, and the kitchen language. For example, the kitchen table had various questions from the survey written on it, things like “In which language do you watch TV?” and the answers were reported in percentages of cucumbers, cookies, and coffee rings—a different image for each question, but if, say, 56% of the people answered “French,” then the “French” cookie would be 56% there. Then there was a spice rack holding the answer to “Which languages do you speak?” with different spices for the different languages, and the jars filled up according to the survey results. They also had ongoing surveys for the visitors: At the kitchen counter, there was a stack of plates underneath and then the question, “How many languages have you spoken today?” with the instructions to place a plate next to the appropriate number. I proudly placed mine next to the 2, as I had spoken to the woman at the front desk in German.
On Sunday, Kayla, Natalie and I attempted to visit a German Oktoberfest in Wittlich, but despite my careful research, we were unsuccessful. When the festival website had detailed only special busses coming from other cities, I falsely assumed that public transportation in Wittlich would get us there. When we discovered my mistake, we headed back to Trier in order to find the Oktoberfest there, only to discover that it had already ended. We ended up finding a restaurant with an Oktoberfest special and settled for that, despite the fact that it was far from our initial plans.
Host family adventures continued this week, bringing four new rabbits to the backyard (one still nameless). This encouraged my host dad to have his first ever conversation with me! I typically eat lunch with them if I am home, and after the meal today, Jordy asked if I wanted to meet the new rabbits, and I told him that would be great, as I had yet to meet them. Slyly, my host dad added, “yes, you better meet them today, because we’ll be eating them tomorrow!” I laughed, which seemed to encourage him, and we talked a bit about where the rabbits had come from, how they had gotten a deal the kids wouldn’t let them refuse, and now that had way more rabbits than they ever intended to have. It was delightful, especially when, upon returning to the house later in the day, he greeted me cheerfully—In the past, he only said “Moien” if he’s in the same room, and sometimes not even then.
He was gone, however, when I came back from seeing the rabbits and found Chris
hiding underneath the table in the den where I had left my computer full of plans. I said hello to him and then made my way around the table, back to the computer—and stepped in a puddle of his pee. It appears that they are attempting to potty train him, as he has been sighted wearing underwear instead of the usual diaper, but so far these attempts have been rather unsuccessful. I called for Sophie, who confirmed that it wasn’t water and fetched her mom, who gave me a wipe, apologized and sent Chris upstairs to get cleaned up. I guess I should learn to expect the unexpected with a three-year-old in the house, but he does keep us entertained.