New Days as a German Instructor

Holding books and papers in my arms,
enough for a class of thirty new students,
I entered the classroom, wide grin on
my face and eyes sparkling. I began

the new quarter as I was accustomed:
speaking only in German, greeting my
new students, gesturing with my arms as
I walked from around the desk.

All sixty eyes were focused in anticipation.
Making eye contact with them and showing
confidence, I continued telling them
how pleased I was they were with me.

Bulging eyes widened and met mine.
Glances and flinching of some in the
class. One tentative hand shot in the air.
A shaky, soft voice, hesitatingly spoke,

asking Are you sure you have the
right room and class? Verbalizing my
shock at discovering I was standing before
a class of Spanish and not German,

my face and ears flushed. I mumbled
something all the while wondering, this had been
my room last quarter. I gathered my books
drew in a breath and moved to the

German class. Why hadn’t I paid
closer attention to classroom numbers?
Overcoming my embarrassment, I began anew,
speaking in German and relieved.

I chalked this up to being a new college
instructor. Would anyone notice how
visibly shaken I was? The foible of
being the new kid on the block!

This entry was posted in new German instructor, teaching a new quarter, university teaching and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to New Days as a German Instructor

  1. Jeff Zablow says:

    A very enjoyable anecdote this, evoking good memories of those many ‘first days.’

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My goodness! What a story! I’m glad you survived.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Peter Klopp says:

    The same thing happened to me, when I walked into the wrong class at the Olds Community College, where I was supposed to teach German and was confronted with a totally puzzled French class. Perhaps a small consolation, Mary Ann that you are not alone with such embarrassing moments.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So they switched rooms on you as well? It is a big consolation to know I am not the only one. Thanks, Peter.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Peter Klopp says:

        It is a long story. In a nutshell: I taught French the year before, but as a native German I switched to teaching my own language. It was my fault to assume that the course would be offered in the same classroom. Very embarrassing!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting and also amusing. I taught Fr. and German in the middle school for about 6-7 years and each year the schedule changed so I had to remember to turn off the French faucet and turn on the German one for the next period. We are all creatures of habit, I fear, Peter. Life’s embarrassing moments! Enjoy the weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Mabel Kwong says:

    It must have been at least a bit mortifying to find yourself in front of the wrong class. Good that one brave student brought that to your attention. Sometimes we think we are in the right place but somehow are just not aware. It happens to all of us. Hope you weren’t late to the German class 🙂 I’ve never actually turned up to the wrong class in my university days – always found the right lecture and tutorial rooms 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Clare Pooley says:

    Oh, Mary Ann! I can imagine how awful you felt at the time! I am so pleased you were able to keep that lovely smile on your face and start again in the correct room! I might have had to rush off and hide somewhere for a while until I got my courage back!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Emily says:

    Great blog post! We all have our moments, thank you for sharing! It certainly didn’t phase you one bit as you had an outstanding career as a German teacher 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Why thank you for such a delightful comment, Emily. Looking back at almost 50 years as a German teacher, I would have to say that my two Fulbright Exchange Teacher experiences were the best because I could bring my two children along and travel with them. Next my almost 20 years of doing video conferences with several schools and colleagues over the years was also super. Actually, you are correct in that the incident did not phase me. All part of the job and life experiences. I wish for you and your career as much satisfaction as I have had and with many, varied and rich experiences. And you and Tom became fluent German speakers in the process. Thank you once again, daughter Emily, for your kind comment. Good luck in your career as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Annika Perry says:

    Mary Ann, what a memorable start to the new school year! I feel for you and can just imagine your shock / embarrassment…at least someone spoke up early on! Did the Spanish students speak any German at all? Maybe you convinced one or two to take German instead? 😀 A charming memory and my day has now started with a chuckle! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Annika – that particular university had the quarter system in which I taught fall, winter and spring quarters and each quarter rooms changed. It was the winter quarter as I recall, and I didn’t give the room number much thought. I don’t know whether anyone in the Spanish class knew any German, but someone realized I was speaking something different from what he/she had learned. Whether or not any of them switched to German later, I don’t recall. As a young person, I could feel my face turning bright red as I gathered my books and papers to leave that room in a hurry and go around the corner to the German class. As my daughter mentioned, I managed quite well and took it in stride. Easier said than done in the moment. The person who spoke up said it was a Spanish class though. A chuckle was my intent. Humor is so important in life. Thanks for a lovely comment too.

      Liked by 1 person

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