Friday, September 27, 2013

Lost in translation

The other day brought some entertainment in the classroom. In one of my history classes we were studying the ways in which the civilization of Ancient Rome carried out their educational systems. At one point during class I noted how the students were taught in multiple languages. This fact prompted a student to ask me, "do you speak German?" So I put on a little grin and said, "Not much but I can hold my own." (Knowing full well my German is terrible) The class then expressed their eagerness to hear me say something in German. So, they gave me a phrase to say and asked me to repeat it in German. I cannot recall what their original phrase was, but my immediate response was, "du bist eine kleine Zitrone." They seemed quite impressed and asked me to translate a different phrase to which I responded, "Ich habe zwei kirschen"

They enjoyed hearing a bit of German and enjoyed that I was able to so quickly repeat what they were saying in a different language. I simply carried on with the class material with a bit of a grin, knowing full well something was "lost in translation." I'll save you the trouble... if you were to translate what I said it would be, "You are a small lemon" and "I have two cherries" The students had no idea, and that's absolutely fine with me. I knew exactly what I was saying, but they didn't. And I'm more than content to keep it that way.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Unfortunately my posting has been a bit more infrequent in recent weeks. But it is still something I desire to do and something I want to get better at. So hopefully I will once again get to the point where I am blogging every Thursday.

I wanted to take a few minutes tonight and brag about my students. (Even though I am no longer in Germany, I still consider and think of them as "my" students.) Over the summer I got this crazy idea of trying to connect my students in Germany, with the students I would teach this year, mainly the 7th grade Bible class. One night I got a random idea and sent out an email to eight seniors, pitching an idea to them. Within 12 hours I had a response from every single student with an excited "yes" accompanied by overwhelming excitement and support.

So this is what happens...
Every weekend my students create a 1-2 minute video and email it to me. I then compile the videos and make one large video. On Tuesday and Wednesday I show the video from Germany to the Bible classes. Then, on Wednesday the Bible class films their own video, that I send back to Germany. The seniors in Germany view the video, answer the questions posed to them, and send a video back to keep the pattern going. It's been absolutely phenomenal. We call it "Virtual Pen Pals Via Video" (VPPVV)

I am blown away by the excitement and commitment my students have for this. We have successfully completed four videos back and forth (8 videos in all), and the seniors are truly enjoying it. They are getting to see the students in my class, and are getting to know information about them. Additionally, they are able to share about the lives they have lived. Questions range from, "what is your favorite color?" to "what are you most excited about for your senior year?" or "how do you eat your food?"
My students have no obligations to do this, yet they do it willingly and with joy. They are doing it, because they care about others and genuinely desire to get to know the 7th graders. I am impressed and so immensely proud of them, and the work they are doing. It truly is a blessing to not only see them embrace this idea, but even better - they are doing it with passion, excitement, and love.

Since the day I showed the first video, I have not had a class where the 7th graders failed to bring up Germany, and the video. I am constantly being asked, "Did they see our video yet? Have they sent any responses back yet? Did they answer my question?" The 7th graders are absolutely loving the connection.

The first time my students answered some of the questions posed to them, I sat back and watched the 7th graders response. One girl in particular asked a bizarre question, but got a lot of responses and each time she heard her name, she had a look on her face that seemed to say, "They're talking to me! They are answering MY question!" I started getting teary eyed as I saw her genuine smile light up the room knowing others had responded to her question.
This past week we had two of the seniors put together a video about Spiderman because one of the 7th graders asked about Spidey. The clip was close to three minutes long, and unfortunately I timed the movie horribly, and about halfway through the movie the lunch bell rang. The 7th grader who asked about Spiderman, sat glued to his seat (if only I could get him to do that during the rest of class!) with a massive smile on his face. He watched the remainder of the video and eventually walked off to lunch after saying, "That was SO cool. That was awesome."

As he walked off to lunch, I just sat there and thought, " students are pretty awesome." 

Saturday, September 7, 2013


I am the type of person who enjoys being in a routine. It makes me feel settled. Routine provides some stability and a foundation for which I can work off of. Something inside of me finds peace when I know that A will certainly be followed by B, which will undoubtedly lead me to C.

Two weeks into the school year and I am still in search of some sort of a routine. A is followed by M which takes me down a windy road toward Y and before I know it I am nestled next to H. My teaching schedule is such that on one day I may only see half the classes I teach, and the following day I see the other half. Only having one soccer field means that if one team has a game, all other teams have to adjust their practice schedule. I have gotten home as early as 6.30, and sometimes not until 9.15. 6.30 and 9.15 significantly impact if and when I am able to get in a run. It hasn't been terrible, it has simply been different. It has been an adjustment.

Unfortunately I feel as though among all the changes certain things have been pushed to the side. I missed two Thursdays in a row where I failed to put up a post. Not only have I not been writing publicly, I haven't been keeping up with my personal journal and providing myself with an outlet in that fashion. Likewise, I have been pretty bad at staying in touch with friends. The amount of emails I have sent out recently and the amount of time I have made for phone calls/skype in the past two weeks is so far from where I would like to be.

I appreciate your grace and forgiveness as I continue to walk through this transition. At the same time, please continue to write. Continue to seek times to skype. Those things are important to me and I don't want to lose sight of that in the midst of all the transition.