Friday, 17th of February:
We, Apollonia Binder and Celine Schopper, are two teachers in training (Referendarinnen) at the CPG in Gilching. Apollonia Binder teaches Spanish, French and Italian and Celine Schopper teaches Spanish and English. Thanks to our mentor (Seminarlehrerin) Doris Jakob-Fuchshuber, who coordinates the Erasmus+ program at our school, we could take part in a Job-Shadowing experience in Logroño, La Rioja in Spain . This means that we were able to observe Spanish teachers at work and talk to them about their training and their day-to-day experiences at school.
When we arrived in Logroño after a very long journey from Gilching, it was already night time, and most of the city was asleep. However, when we left the house the following day, we immediately noticed the Spanish spirit. People were having breakfast in tiny cafés and bars and the city was slowly awakening.
At school, we were welcomed with lots of cariño by Pilar, the coordinator of the Erasmus+ program at the Spanish school and Rebeca, the headmistress of the Secondary School IES Hermanos d’Elhuyar. Pilar had designed a timetable for us so that we could observe lessons of the subjects we teach at our school in Germany: English, French, Spanish as a Second Language and Spanish Language and Literature. For three days, we went to different classes, mostly observing from the back of the classroom, but also as active participants. In „Tourism“-class we pretended to be tourists in La Rioja, so that the students could recommend sights of the area to us. As we going to have Saturday off here in Logroño, it was not so much pretending as a real and authentic conversation with the students.
Furthermore, we had the opportunity to talk to the headmistress of the school about major differences in the Spanish and the German system, and to young teachers about their teacher training. All of the teachers were very excited to speak with us, and both we and the Spanish teachers gained lots of insights, ideas and new information.
We observed a lot of differences but also some similarities. From our point of view, the most important similarity is that as teachers, our primary goal is for our students to learn important things and to succeed. The greatest difference is that Spanish teachers in school as well as in university are treated by their first names and by „tú“ (du in German). That’s also the reason why students and teachers in Spain have a much more relaxed relationship than they tend to have in Germany – which can be both positive and negative. Another difference is the schedule. While our school in Gilching starts at 8 o’clock, IES Hermanos d’Elhuyar starts at 8:30 (- which we would obviously also welcome in Germany). There are 6 classes of 50 minutes with a 5-minute break after every lesson and a 30-minute break after the 3rd lesson. The school day ends at 14:20.
In Spanish secondary schools, classrooms are very heterogenous. As they don’t have different types of schools as we do in Germany (Mittelschule, Realschule and Gymnasium), students from all backgrounds and with all levels of intelligence and knowledge have to learn together. That makes the teacher’s job a lot more challenging here in Spain.
As for teacher training, we have realized how fortunate we are in Germany. Most teachers in training (Referendare in German) find the 2-year period of learning how to be a good teacher extremely stressful, both physically and psychologically. However, we’ve come to learn that becoming a teacher in Spain can be even more stressful, as teacher training is very theoretical and teachers only really learn when they already work in schools full time.
Above all, we have gained some new ideas to implement in our own classes back in Germany. On one hand, we want to be even closer to our students in terms of individual support. On the other hand, we want to integrate and value students‘ experiences, opinions and thoughts even more.
We are extremely grateful for having been able to come to Spain and learn so much about the Spanish school system and about teacher training.
Apollonia Binder and Celine Schopper