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Austrian Portfolio

Crystal Avalos

on 5 September 2012

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Transcript of Austria

By: Crystal Avalos Vienna, Austria This past summer, I had the opportunity to go to Vienna, Austria to not only observe, but teach at two secondary schools and one primary school. During my stay I learned a great amount about The Austrian School System. The Austrian School System American School System Austrian School System There are Kindergarten schools all around the city.
Volkschule (primary school) begins from the 1st grade and goes up to 4th grade.
There are typically 20-25 students in the class and from 1st grade up to 4th grade the same group of students stay together and the teacher loops with them for four years. The same thing happens when they go to secondary school.
From 4th grade, students either go to secondary school or go to gymnasium. Gymnasium is a junior high school going from 5th grade up to 12th grade.
Gymnasium is said to be a great school especially for those students planning to go to the University.
One of the requirements for applying at a gymnasium is students must have straight 1's their 4th grade year. The grading system is called "marks" 1 being the best and 5 being the worst.
Kooperative Mittelschule (secondary school)is from 5th grade to 8th grade. When students are in the 8th grade, they must decide if they want to apply go to to gymnasium, or learn a profession and go to Fachmittelschule (school with focus on professions) which takes about two years.
Again, if students want to apply to gymnasium they must have 1's as well during their 8th grade year.
In secondary school grade levels are called "forms" 1st form being 5th grade up to 4th form which is 8th grade. Within those forms, they are broken into form A,B,C. For example form 1A,1B,1C .
By law, Students are required to go to school for 9 years. Therefore once they complete 9 years of school, those students become a part of "society."
When students turn about 18, they take a final exam called "Matura". It is an intense competency exam that if passed, the students may go to the University. If they fail the Matura the first time, they do have an opportunity to take the exam one last time. If they fail the exam again, they cannot go to the University.
Within the school system, there are many paths a student can choose to follow.
There is so much accountability that the students are given.
Their is a lot of respect between teacher and student.
Students become very close and eventually treat each other like family. There is a very strong bond within each classroom. Primary school begins from Kindergarten up to 5th grade.
From 5th grade, students attend Middle School with is typically from 6th-8th grade.
When students finish 8th grade, they attend high school which is from 9th -12th grade.
When and if students graduate from 12th grade, they can attend either a community college or a University.
If students do not complete high school, they can take an alternative route to acquire their diploma by taking a G.E.D. (General Education Diploma).
There are also private, charter, and dual-language schools available for students to attend. Public education is the most popular of the schools.
Students are encouraged to continue education by going to the University and acquire a Bachelor's diploma or higher.
It is the responsibility of each state and local government to set the academic standards for their students. The students from both schools systems ultimately lead their students to make their own choices for their lives.
The systems strive for great future citizens in their society's.
They both have students in same age group for each grade level.
There is a primary, secondary and high school offered.
Students are grades with marks being numbers, the U.S. going from 4 being the best vs. Austria 1 being the best.
Teachers are dedicated to giving the best education they can with their students. There were three schools that I had the privilege to not only observe, but also teach. The host Schools Calbergergasse Global Education Primary School Bendegasse All three schools had not only great teachers, but the students were also great. On the very first day of school, I started at Bendegasse in which I was with a total of 3 teachers. The main focus of the school was nutrition. Students were not allowed to eat sweets or drink soda while they were there. The teachers were Renate, Andrea and Yurgen. Yurgen was the teacher I spent the most time with. From day one, he had my partner and I involved with the class. He was a very good teacher who had great classroom management, very engaging lessons and ultimately I felt that his teaching was coherent. I spent most of my time in the 3rd form which is 7th grade. One of the first lessons was an introduction on Romeo and Juliet. He gave the students a worksheet that had Bruce Springsteen's "Fire". We heard the song and then we dissected what the lyrics meant. The students were very excited to jump into learning Romeo and Juliet.
The second school I attended was called Calbergergasse which I spent the most time at. I worked with native speakers including Daniel and Peter. I also had a chance to work with other teachers which was such a great opportunity. The main focus of this school is English. Many of the students there spoke very good English and were not afraid to speak to me. Daniel was the one who I spent the most time with and who thoroughly explained how the Austrian system worked and was also just a great resource during my stay in Vienna. One thing that really stuck out to me from the moment I walked in the door was that they were doing a school wide project on carbon footprints. It was very impressive to see. One of the first lessons at Calbergergasse was actually quite interesting. Daniel had my partner and I introduce ourselves to the class and have them ask us questions. That was what I did all that first day and actually all that week.
The third school I went to was The Global Education Primary School. There were four native speakers at the school each with a unique style of teaching. Janice was the main one I spent the most time with. One interesting thing about the GEPS school was there were no male teachers with the exception of their principle. On the first day of school I was in a 3rd grade classroom and they were practicing a play called "Wombat Stew." The part that I loved about this play was that the students wrote the play themselves. The English that was coming out of the 3rd graders was just mind blowing. Teachers and Students GEPS GEPS Bendegasse Bendegasse Calbergergasse Calbergergasse Observations Each school that I observed was not only interesting, but I also learned a lot about the variety of teaching styles there are not only here in the U.S, but in Austria as well.
One of the first observations that I saw was at Bendegasse. I observed 4th from with a lady teacher. When the bell rang for class to start, she had told me that half of the students were going to leave to do another lesson. I asked her why and she said those were the bad students and the class I was about to observe was the "better" group. When she began teaching, she rose her voice when there was talking. She would "shh" them, but they continued to talk. There was one boy in particular who was acting out in the back of the classroom. She said something in German and he stopped for a little while. This continued throughout the whole class period which was 50 minutes. The lesson that she was teaching during those 50 minutes was in their English books and it was about culture. They read about cultures in Europe, Mexico and South America. She asked my partner and I what the culture was here in New Mexico and we were able to share a little about the food and the high Native American influence NM has. It was amazing to see the students' faces when we were talking about chile! They didn't have a clue what it was or how it could possible taste like. I felt it was a great introduction to our unique state and I was excited to teach them more about it throughout the month.
The second school was Calbergergasse. The one observation that really stuck out to me was 1C. It was Father's day weekend and the students were to make cards for their fathers. The teacher was male and he had cut out each step and hung them up on the chalkboard. He did not tell them the directions, he expected them to go up and learn how to make the card. The students were very focused and were determined to create a masterpiece. The class as a whole were quiet and on task the whole 50 minutes.
At the GEPS School I observed each of the Native Speakers and they each were very different in their own way. I observed a 1st form class in which had many students who spoke at least 2 other languages apart from the English they were learning at that school. The teacher was very kind to the students from the moment I walked in. They all got into a circle and she had about 8 cards with pictures on them. She called on students to say what the picture was in English. Then she had the students teach my partner and I how to say the words in German. It was very fun and interactive. There was a boy who kept acting out and the main teacher had him sit in his seat which was located in the way back of the room by himself. When the students finished teaching us the words, the native teacher asked if I could read a story to the students and I was glad to do so. When i finished the read-aloud, the main teacher took out her guitar and sang a song to the class. They then were working on a worksheet in their English book. There was a song that went with it, so the native teacher put the CD in and had the students listen. This happened 2 times, then she had them sing all together.
It was interesting to see how these three schools which are great schools by the way have such a unique technique to their teaching styles. To begin, the very first teacher was extremely strict with her students and did not include any humor in her lesson. This showed me that education here in Austria is to be taken seriously and teachers do not tolerate any sort of behavior in the classroom. With the second school when the male teacher didn't want to demonstrate the cards, this showed me that students in Austria are held accountable for their learning. They have so much more responsibility over there than the students here in the U.S. Also, students seek for perfection in their work. If they make something, they want to be proud of it. The teacher himself was very intimidating and never rose his voice. he was calm. There is also something very common I saw with each school and that was the art of making things by hand. The students always had artwork hanging either outside of the classroom or inside. As for the last teacher, I loved how not only did she incorporate music with her lesson, but she also allowed the students to teach me words in German. She made learning very fun for the students and her teaching reminded me of how early childhood teachers teach over here. She was positive and engaging the whole lesson. I did notice however that when teachers have a student with behavior issues, they discontinued letting the student participate with the rest of the group and single them out. I see that pattern here in the U.S. as well. These teachers were great to observe and I really was able to compare and contrast what they do and what teachers in the U.S. do. The pictures go from left to right Calbergergasse, Bendegasse and GEPS. The Special Events Having the opportunity to teach the students about New Mexico was not only exciting, but it was a great learning experience for myself as well. Before I went to Austria, my partner and I created a PowerPoint to show the students along with another PowerPoint about the American School System. We also brought items from New Mexico to share with the students such as postcards, New Mexico rocks and minerals, native american mini pottery etc.
One of the first lesson plans my partner and I created was about smoking for the 3rd and 4th form. We decided to create a two voice poem on smoking. It was a great hit! The students enjoyed to poem and we even had other students come up to read the poem. We taught this lesson multiple times for a few days at Calbergergasse.
The other lesson plan that we did was on animals. It was called "Oh Deer" and the objective was to teach the students about the essential things animals need in order to survive. This was an activity that was to be played outside and I think that many of the students struggled with understanding what the point of the lesson was. This was with the 2nd and 3rd form at Calbergergasse.It was meant to be a fun lesson, but many of the girls especially refused to cooperate.
When we went to Bendegasse, we had the chance to use the PowerPoint on New Mexico with the 3rd and 4th form. The surprising part about this school was they weren't technologically ready as the U.S. is. We finally got the PowerPoint working and the students were fairly engaged. It was interesting to see each class react differently to the presentation. Some classes were engaged, and some just weren't. By the time we were going to do the presentation at Calbergergasse, their computer room was upstairs and it was very hot. We decided at that point the students would probably be miserable with all the heat which lead my partner and I to implement a new plan to teach them about New Mexico.
My partner and I brought postcards and starting that same morning we were going to do the presentation, we decided to have the students pair up and talk about the picture on the postcards. After about 10 minutes, they were to go up to the class and talk to the class about the picture. At the end of class we would debrief about what we learned about New Mexico and also discuss which were their favorite pictures. The rattlesnake, jackrabbit, and the Glowdeo were the most popular. This was a great lesson because they were working on oral language.This lesson was taught to most classes at Calbergergasse and Bendegasse.
For the 1st form at Calbergergasse, the students were each given a postcard and they had to write a letter to someone in the present tense form using as many adjectives as possible about their trip to New Mexico. We had a contest over who had the best letter with great adjectives. Many of the students' writing was well written and mind blowing.
The best lesson I feel that couldn't have gone better was a lesson on Native American Pottery. This lesson was taught at Calgerbergasse in a 4th from class. My partner and I decided to focus on 3 branches of Native Americans which were the Navajo's, Zuni's and the Acoma. We printed out pictures of pottery from each tribe and talked about the distinctive pottery elements that are included in each piece of pottery. My partner and I found modeling clay and we bought enough to have the students create their own piece of pottery. They were ecstatic about creating something that was their own. As I had mentioned before, students take pride in their work over there.
At Bendegasse, Yurgen would hand my partner and I worksheets on whatever they were learning and had my partner and I each have small groups and teach them what was on the worksheet. An example was when I was to teach the students about Christopher Columbus. I was very surprised as to how much U.S. history all the students had including Clabergergasse school. I find it unfortunate that here in the U.S. we barely touch on European history yet they are required to learn about the U.S. beginning in primary school.
I must mention that it doesn't seem like there weren't that many lesson plans, we were responsible for teaching these lessons to most of the forms throughout the week. There were many students that I had the chance to teach. My Lesson Plans One major part about the Austrian School System that I felt was enriching for the students were their excursion weeks. In Austria towards the end of the the school year, a class will go on excursion week or also called sports week. This is when the class will go out of the country for a week without their parents and the students stay with host families. The cost is very reasonable ranging from 300-400 euros for the whole week including food, shelter and transportation. At Calbergergasse the week that I had arrived there, a class was on Croatia. Around the third week of school, another group of students went to Ireland. In my opinion I feel this is such a great way to expose children to multiple cultures and they learn to appreciate where they come from and who they are.
Typically the last week of school all schools are out on excursions around Vienna or lower Austria. One of my favorite excursions I went to was with the GEPS School. This group of students were in their 4th form meaning that was their last week together before they branch out to their own paths. This class was a very fun class from the beginning and right away were very comfortable with my partner and I. When we first met them, they had written a play and they acted it out for us. They were a very intelligent group. For the excursion, the students were paired up and throughout the second half of the year, and they were studying a particular building or statue from the 1st district which is where Vienna has many of its first buildings that were established. The objective was to go to the 1st district and the students were the tour guides around the city. They spoke in German, but all the students tried to translate as much as they could in English for my partner and I. Throughout the day I began building connections with all the students and they were very eager to teach me German. By the end of the day I was able to say about 7 colors and count from 1-10 in German. By the end of the day we had ice cream! One of the best days I had over there.
At Calbergasse we were with 4c the most during our stay. We built connections with the students as well and we ended up going on a few excursions with them. One of the first excursions included us walking to a very popular restaurant called "Enrico" to eat pizza and have ice cream. Apart from the excursion one of the students from Bendegasse told my partner and I to go to this restaurant because it was one of the best. Well, my partner and I were regulars by the time we went with the group at Calbergergasse! It was very funny because there are only about 3 servers that work their and we are pretty recognizable. We had actually eaten lunch there the day before the excursion. Back to the excursion, the students just ate, had ice cream and really enjoyed each other's company before the last day of school.
The last excursion I went to was with 4c from Calbergergasse. We took them swimming in lower Austria which by the way was very beautiful. The swimming facility was extremely clean, had water that filled up the whole pool, music, a diving board, grass, trees and a little restaurant. It must be nice to have an unlimited supply of water! My partner and I didn't swim, we hung out with the other teachers from fourth form. We brought candy from New Mexico and we distributed them over there. I was a little nervous about what they thought, but if anything everything was a big hit! The students loved them! This was a great day to just hang out with the teachers and talk for the last time with the students. My impressions When I arrived in Vienna I did not know what the outcome of this trip was going to be. I had the time of my life over there and it changed my life. I have a broader perspective on life, culture and people.
I have learned that people including myself need to take the time and smell the roses. Life here in the states goes by so fast and it always seems as if there are not enough hours in the day to do everything. Over in Austria places close very early everyday and most businesses are closed on Sundays. Family time seems to be the most valued part of life along with spending time with friends. It was so amazing to go for a walk each evening to see every park I passed by filled with families. Along with family time, there were always people walking and bicycling. It was refreshing to go walk instead of driving everywhere. I think that is what I miss the most over there. I miss seeing the students from Calbergergasse at the bus stop, or seeing students from Bendegasse at the Riverside mall.
I enjoyed learning about the culture of Austria during my stay. When my partner and I didn't have school we would walk and explore the 1st district where that was where we learned most of the Viennese culture. The first thing was that people were very comfortable with their bodies. I saw many people who would go tanning at a park. I decided I would acculturate myself and go tanning just like the locals there. It opened my eyes to the importance of accepting yourself. The main religion is Catholicism and when there is a catholic holiday, all schools would have that particular day off. Just for the catholic holidays, it adds up to almost a month's worth of days off.Yet here in the U.S. teachers may not even talk about religion. It seems that in the schools teachers are more open to teaching whatever they feel their students need to know. Daniel the native speaker from Calbergasse mentioned that next year the girls from I believe 2nd form were going on a field trip to see the gynecologist. At first I was surprised, but then I realized that this is simply their culture. Parents here in the U.S. would definitely be appalled if I wanted to take my 6th graders on a field trip like that. The food of course was also part of my culture shock. One major part about Vienna that I learned was they do not use ice! It was so difficult for me to get use to because I love my beverages cold! Also, they measure the beverages at restaurants and then charge you a lot of money so I learned to savor each drink I took over there! The best part was the ice cream and every time there was an excursion, the students would go get ice cream!
The number one thing that I will take with me from Austria is the trust people have with each other. It seems people give you the benefit of the doubt. It was difficult to get use to because here in the U.S. we are told to trust nobody. It was very neat to also experience meeting people who were genuinely kind and interested to learn about who you are. When I went to Laban I met these great teachers who were so kind. In particular there was this french teacher by the name of Elisabeth. She invited my partner and I to her house to cook us a real french dinner and man was it delicious! The AAECA staff were the also very welcoming and delightful to be around.Apart from kind and generous people, the citizens of Austria are environmentally aware which was the most shocking. The streets get swept every morning, they recycle not only outside in the streets but in the schools as well. People over there really do respect their land and I wish that every country would be like that. Our world really could be a clean world if we really put in the effort to do so.
As a future educator this trip made a great impact on my life. First off it was such a privilege to teach about New Mexico, my birthplace. I never realized how unique New Mexico really was until I began getting ready for this trip. It was amazing to see the faces of all the students whenever my partner or I talked about New Mexico and the wondrous beauty this state has. They simply couldn't grasp the idea of how completely different New Mexico was from Vienna! I loved talking about my hometown, and now that I have been student teaching, I have been doing a mini thematic unit on New Mexico. Along with teaching about New Mexico, I enjoyed teaching the students about Native American pottery. I have family who are part Native American as am I, and being able to share something and teach it which is such a big part of New Mexico was so neat to experience. The benefits of this program are so awe-inspiring. Because of this trip I have decided that I not only want to teach abroad, but I have grown the confidence to be in front of a classroom in a different environment than I am use to. I have gained knowledge from other educators throughout this trip and have learned so much more about being multicultural. It was amazing to meet students from Turkey, Egypt, Croatia, Bulgaria and so many other countries. As one of the pioneers to set off on this journey, I am so blessed to have had this experience and I am very excited for the future candidates for this program. I anticipate that this program is only going to get better and better each year. Thank you to everyone who made this program possible, this will forever be a part of who I am.
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