“Are students allowed to wear hats in your school?” This is a question that came up during my visit to a 9th grade class in Gelnhausen yesterday. I explained that this has been a hot topic at BRFHS this past year and students and adults in our community have different opinions about it. The German teacher whose class I was visiting was quite adamant that it is a matter of respect that hats are removed when you are in an official building like a school. He made the comparison to him coming to school in short shorts – he would never do that out of respect for the students.
I explained that traditionally, we have not allowed hats, but lately there has been more discussion about hats as fashion and the fact that clothing trends have changed. The students were quick to chime in that they also believe it is simply another part of fashion or freedom of choice about what they would like to wear and that it doesn’t interfere with learning.
Later on yesterday during an administrative meeting, the topic of cellphones in class came up. The same teacher, who is also the assistant principal (all administrators in Germany must continue to teacher some classes) was adamant that in his class, he allows cell phones so that students can do research, use the calculator function, and be connected when necessary. Other teacher/administrators were on the other side of the fence arguing that it might be nice to have cell phones for these functions, but kids get distracted by them and it is better to restrict or ban them outright. No final decision was reached. It’s interesting, yet understandable that these topics are being discussed and debated not just in BRF or in Wisconsin, but all the way over here in a different country and very different school system.
One enormous difference here in the schools is that religion is an elective that is offered at all levels. Students can choose between Catholic or Protestant/Lutheran religion classes or they can take ethics. There are several theologians at school who teach the classes, but who also run a gathering place for kids to hang out and talk, get advice, and for the adults to essentially provide social work functions like working with children who are struggling in the areas of family problems, addictions and mental health. They have turned a classroom into this gathering place where students assist those adults in talking, advising and supporting their peers.
Another difference is that each level of the school (5th, 6th, 7th, etc. through 13th grade) are divided up into class cohorts of 20-30 students who go through their whole time here together in that cohort. They take most all of their classes together as their group of 20 – 30.
This makes for another difference. Here the attendance is entered into the “Klassenbuch”, the class book, that is stored in a rack outside the office, then carried to each class by one student in that class. They do not have attendance on the computer and no positive attendance!
On my way to a newspaper interview about this Hessen-Wisconsin School Administrator Exchange and my visit here. Then we’ll enjoy the spring band concert later this evening. More to come…
Attendance is taken by hand in the orange books and placed outside the office after each hour.
After two full days at the Grimmelshausen Gymnasium in Gelnhausen, Germany, it is clear that schools around the world – or at least in Hessen and in Wisconsin – are addressing many similar issues. Here in Germany, the standards and expectations are being raised and comprehensive statewide assessments are used to measure and rate schools based on their test scores. They also have long lists of standards and benchmarks that they are required to address and attempt to raise the learning for all students to reach these goals. This is not too different to our schools in Wisconsin.
What also is similar is that students are curious, teachers are busy, yet friendly and the school administrators are working to assure quality education for their future generations.
Many procedures; like attendance and student/teacher schedules are very different. Another large difference is the fact that the teachers’ unions are very strong here unlike in Wisconsin and I was able to sit in on a meeting between the principal and the union leaders. It was very enlightening to see how collegial and collaborative things were despite some definite differences in interests and opinions.
I was also able to observe a French class, a Spanish class, a foods class, as well as visit several math and English classes. Good instruction here is very similar to the good instruction that we see on our school and the teachers and students were eager to ask me lots of questions about classes, athletics and American life just as I soaked up impressions about different ideas and organizations from them.
My partner, Frau Hartmann, and I are also promoting the BRF Tigers overseas with a version of the Tiger Tuesday Trivia. Here are our first prize winners:
Tiger Tuesday in Germany! The winners…
Tomorrow I’ll be visiting more classes, an administrative meeting, and shadowing the assistant principal to learn more about their technology systems. More to come…
Mr. Chambers and Herr Kanthak in Mainz
On Saturday, June 11, Mr. Chambers arrived in Gelnhausen Germany to visit the Grimmelshausen Gymnasium Gehlhausen (GGG) and his partner administrator, Sabine Hartmann, Department Chair for Languages and Arts at GGG.
Mr. Chambers was welcomed by the Assistant Principal, Joachim Kanthak who provided a tour of the city of Mainz where they viewed the Gutenberg Museum. There they were treated to a demonstration of the 15th century printing press that Johann Gutenberg developed and with it changed the Western world dramatically. It is amazing that they have original Gutenberg bibles, printed in the 1400s on display!
Frau Hartmann in Seligenstadt a quaint German town near her school.
After a rainy, but very eventful day on Sunday visiting the area around the over 850 year old city, which was founded by Barbarossa, Mr. Chambers was welcomed Monday morning at the school by Ms. Hartmann, Mr. Kanthak and the Principal, Mr. Fritz Bell.
He visited some classes, discussed administrative topics with Mr. Bell, Mr. Kantahak and Ms. Hartmann and observed a department meeting for the German Department at the school. Although the structure of the school, the requirements for students as well as teachers and the schedules all are very different, it was interesting to experience and hear about many of the same issues that face our schools.
Principal Chambers with Principal Bell above the city of Gelnhausen, Germany
They are working hard to modernize and upgrade their facilities, the teachers are collaborating together to raise the quality of instruction despite the ever increasing demands of more testing and data collection, while the administration strives to assure their constituents that the needs of the community, the parents and the state of Hessen are met.
Mr. Chambers also was provided a tour of the city, was officially welcomed at city hall and has much more planned for the rest of the week in Gelnhausen. On Friday he travels with Frau Hartmann to the capital, Wiesbaden where they will meet with the State Superintendent Prof. Dr. R. Alexander Lorz and other school administrators from Hessen and Wisconsin.
Do you like computer games? How would you like to control a robot? Are you interested in programming, making stuff and having fun?
If you answered yes to any of those things, then we have a great FREE opportunity for you to attend a camp next week Monday and Tuesday (June 13-14) at the middle school where you’ll be able to do all these things! This will be run by high school teachers and students. We will have a senior computer programmer as a keynote speaker and a free lunch is available right before the start of the camp. …and oh yes, you’ll get a free T-Shirt and USB stick with all your projects and more!
This is funded by the Wisconsin DPI – NTO/STEM Grant (Non-traditional Occupations/Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
BRFHS Yearbook Senior Portrait Deadline: October 26, 2016
The Breeze staff is beginning to plan the Black River Falls High School 2017 Breeze yearbook. In order to help students and parents make plans for senior portrait sessions and keep hassles to a minimum, the Breeze staff would like to share its senior portrait policy.
All photos submitted must meet the following requirements:
- vertical, head and shoulder shots
- no name stamps, borders or obvious photo alteration (changes made to colors, content, etc. in Photoshop)
- no pets, cars, props, etc.
- one person per photo
- all student attire must conform to the school dress code
Students are NOT required to use a professional photographer; however, if they do choose to have a friend or relative take their photos, they should keep the above rules in mind. Also, photos taken outdoors on cloudy days are often best, as the lighting isn’t too harsh.
To ensure the highest quality printing, please ask your photographer to submit your photo digitally, if possible. Photographers should send a 2×3, 300 DPI image on a CD to Breeze, Black River Falls High School, 1200 Pierce Street, Black River Falls, WI 54615 OR upload your photo to our Jostens website. We will post the link to that site on the high school website this summer when we know what it is. Please, do not send photos over email.
When submitting a photo via print or CD, please write the student’s full name clearly on the CD or back of the print.
Please check with your studio a few weeks before the deadline to make sure the photo was sent to our office. Make sure you have your photos in on time! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Breeze staff at email@example.com.