Just a few thoughts about my trip:
- English is an obligatory subject starting in the first grade in Austria. However, it is a low-pressure subject – writing is not required for the first two years and there is no assessment. This has the effect of secondary teachers starting their English teaching from the beginning. French and other foreign languages are not mandatory but are present in some schools.
- Students at the KGPH have a personal coach who is responsible for their “Biografiearbeit”. This is a fascinating subject. Not only do the students have mentors who help them on a planning level, but also “coaches” who are responsible for getting students (pre-service teachers) to analyse their own school careers and “ways of being” and get them to find ways to overcome fixed ideas. A practical example of this is a student who comes and says “The children just don’t listen to me”. The coach takes it on a “meta-level” (not just on a lesson-analysis level) and gets them to figure out if this is a general thing, something related to their pre-concept of teaching methodologies and to break it.
- It was amazing to be in a “Praxis Schule” – the kids were right there¨! And this school was a good school for more open types of learning. They have mixed-age classes (1st, 2nd and 3rd graders together), Montessori-style classes (Freiarbeit), and then more traditional classes (normal “Blockstunden”). It brings a lot to their institute to have these wonderful children and teachers at their fingertips!
- Teaching Austrian PH students is NO different than teaching Swiss students!