Teaching Assistant in the primary school at the Phorms Campus München: ‘I couldn’t get the idea out of my head’
What do you do at Phorms?
I am a teaching assistant at the Phorms Campus München’s bilingual primary school. I spend part of my day with the German teacher in year 3, then, when the students go to English class, I go with them and assist their English teacher. When they have German class, a German speaking teaching assistant supports their usual classroom teacher, meaning that there are always two pedagogues in every class.
What do you do as a teaching assistant?
I mainly support the class teacher during lessons, and I help the children a lot with group work. If certain children have finished an exercise more quickly than others, I help them to go deeper into the subject, or if a group hasn’t understood something or is a bit slower, I assist them in completing the exercise.
How did you come to be a teaching assistant?
I’m originally from Boston. I used to work in real estate, and although I enjoyed my work I realised that it didn’t really fulfil me. Then one of my friends suggested that I should work with children. I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I decided to study teaching and worked in a preschool in the USA. In 2013, I came to Germany and joined Phorms. For the first two years I worked in the kindergarten. Many things about the style of teaching were similar to what I was used to in the USA. After two years I moved to the primary school. There is usually a strong sense of community in US schools, with lots of clubs and programmes, and I found that it’s the same at the Phorms primary school, especially as I also work in the after school programme three times a week.
What is your experience of interculturality in your everyday work at Phorms?
When I first started at Phorms, it was new and interesting for me to be confronted with British English every day. I’m used to using the English language in a particular way, but when I’m working with British colleagues, of course I pick up their words or notice that things have different names. We write the date differently in the US, for example, and I say ‘soccer’ when a British person would say ‘football’. The teachers are all very different, though, no matter which country they come from, but the children also bring a huge amount of diversity to the school. Last month, for example, we celebrated International Mother Language Day at school, and in my class alone there was an array of different mother tongues, including Urdu, Japanese, French and Spanish. I was really amazed. We learn from each other and with each other every day.