School’s Out for Summer!

Hello folks!

School’s officially out since last Friday and I can tell you. I’m very fine mush. First of all, the last two weeks are some of the hardest, contrary to popular belief. For one thing, my school wisely decided to turn those last two weeks into project weeks under the “Education for Sustainable Development” goals of the UN, which are so broad that you can basically do whatever you want (though each year has one topic they need to touch).

I absolutely love those weeks. Instead of watching one movie after the other because the grade are written and the books have been collected, we do fun things that are really, really good for our underprivileged kids: visiting the library, the zoo, planting, painting,… It also means long days, not just for the projects, but also for the conferences at the end of the year, but lots of activities outdoors, with a pretty heatwave (that thankfully broke this week). As a result a bone deep physical exhaustion came on top of a bone deep psychological one.

You may remember that after my teacher training, I basically stumbled into special ed. I discovered that I like it and that I’m good at it and that I could imagine staying there. Unfortunately, the ministry of education claims that there’s no shortage of special ed teachers, I was just filling a temporary vacancy. For 5 years in the same school… I kept trying, the union kept trying, but the last phone call with the nice woman from the ministry made it clear that while I could probably always get a temporary contract, I’d not get a permanent one. But she’d send out a new temporary one. That was weeks ago, I kept waiting. Now, since I didn’t go to university for nothing, I kept applying for the regular teacher jobs, though me and my fellow “totally only temporary long term regular ed turned special ed” colleagues suspected that the two departments were keeping us in a loop.

On Monday I got a mail from the department overseeing regular teacher placements that they have (another temporary…) position for me. It would have been at a comprehensive school quite near, which doesn’t only have a bit less underprivileged clientele, but which also would knock off 2/3rds of my commute. But…, you know there’s always a but, they also have a joined high school branch* with the school my kids go to, the high school branch my kid enters next year, a high school branch I’m qualified to teach. Also, I like my school and I know that the principal there is fighting tooth and nail to keep me. Give her another year and the ministry will give me a permanent contract just to get rid of her. That’s an asset you don’t give up easily, so i texted her that unless she was able to work a miracle, I would have to take the offer. Well, she did work a miracle, I could switch with a teacher who was due to start at “my” school. So goodbye KWS (our school Instagram Account), hello, KWS! Another 6 months safe, and at least now I have a prospect of getting a permanent place. Also, I’ll be turning 45 next year, that’s the upper age limit for tenure, so I’ll become cheaper to hire, staying an eternal employee (no problem there). Oh, do I need to mention that my position as special ed teacher there is now vacant?

And with all those good news, I’ll fuck off to Ireland on Monday. Let’s see if I manage to post some sightseeing pics.


*Germany doesn’t have middle and high school. We have primary school (1-4 (6 in some states)) and secondary school (5-13), though some teachers are only qualified to teach until year 9 or 10.


  1. billseymour says

    Teachers are my heroes.

    I had a friend back in the 1970s who was a special ed. teacher with a class of 16 socially and emotionally disturbed girls.  My understanding is that these were kids to whom no one had ever been nice, and so they simply had no idea what being nice was good for.

    The class had two teachers.  Mary was the “academic” teacher; and the other, who was built like a linebacker in American football…well, you can imagine what his job was.

    Mary once said that it was the hardest thing she’d ever done, and she loved it.

    Is secondary school what’s called gymnasium in German?

  2. says

    I had a friend back in the 1970s who was a special ed. teacher with a class of 16 socially and emotionally disturbed girls. My understanding is that these were kids to whom no one had ever been nice, and so they simply had no idea what being nice was good for.

    Yepp. Most of our truly difficult cases are kids who’ve been through a lot. Broken homes, war, fleeing war, … The thing is, we can try to support them, but we cannot fix what is truly wrong. I had a student for whom his teachers and school assistant were the most constant factors in his life and of course that somewhat made matters worse.

    Is secondary school what’s called gymnasium in German?

    Sometimes. Let me explain: The German school system is horribly stratified. It used to have three different schools: Volks/Hauptschule: Year 5 -9, basic skills, afterwards you can learn a trade, basically the school working class kids were supposed to go to, so they can learn the necessary skills to become workers.
    Realschule: Year 5-10, advanced skills, meant for children of mid level employees, so they could in turn become mid level employees
    Gymnasium: Year 5 to 12 or 13: You can only study if you get that leaving cert, the Abitur. Meant for the children of the academia. Usually boys.
    In the 80s we started to get integrated comprehensive schools (Gesamtschule/Gemeinschaftsschule). Some of them only go until year 10, others go to year 13, often in cooperation with the other comprehensive schools in the area. They have now replaced the Hauptschule/Realschule.
    Every study done by whoever keeps showing that in Germany, your educational success depends on your family background more than in any other rich country. And having kids in school, I can absolutely confirm that. It’s not just that I can help my kids with schoolwork, it’s also that they learned so much outside of school, have so many opportunities etc. When we took year 5 to the zoo last week, it was the first time for some of the kids.
    And the Gymnasium manages well to keep minorities and working class kids out. There are reasons why I never want to teach there again despite teaching there being 100 times easier than at my comprehensive school serving the poor part of the state capital. For the same reasons my kids go to a comprehensive school as well. I don’t want them to become arrogant libertarians..

  3. Jazzlet says

    Despite the mushiness from the hard work at the end of term the rest is good news!

    Which part of Ireland are you going to? I’ve had several holidays in Cork and particularly Kerry over the years, beautiful areas with fanastic food. I’d like to see more of the west coast at some point.

  4. says

    I hope you manage to post some sightseeing pictures too! I wish you have a nice holiday. Teaching is hard work and is mostly underappreciated by the populace at large.

    I do not wish to be offensive, but compared to the system we have in CZ, the German education system is needlessly complicated, ineffective, and often downright stupid. It sorts the kids into schools that limit their future choices way too early. It could be vastly improved by simplifying it.

  5. says

    We’ll start in Killarney, go up to Connemara and finally Dublin. I do have the weirdest teenagers. When asked what they want to do in Dublin, they asked if they have museums.

    @Charly, you’re not offensive, our school system is. I’d very much like to burn it down and start again. It does have some good aspects, like many options to continue your education, but that stratified system? Nope. As I said, there are many reasons I want to teach at a comprehensive school, even one with a difficult clientele.

  6. Jazzlet says

    Oh Kilarney is beautiful! Connemara is one of the places I haven’t visited, but want to. I know Dublin does have museums, famously you can see the days page of the Book of Kells, but the only museum I have actually been to there is the bus museum . . . perhaps not what your two are thinking of? ;-)

  7. chigau (違う) says

    I don’t have many concerns about “AI taking over” because most “AI” are really stupid.

  8. says

    I just cleaned it up. I’d also be very worried about being treated by nurses whose papers were written by a bot

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