Working as a teacher in Germany

Two Students in the snow.
Phoebe Li and Kenny Derek, students at MIT, really enjoyed working as teachers. (Image: FAU/Rebecca Kleine Möllhoff)

FAU and MIT to collaborate even more closely

The MIT Germany programme, a cooperation between FAU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), promotes joint projects in research and teaching. One of these projects is the Global Teaching Labs, which Prof. Dr. Björn Eskofier from the Department of Machine Learning and Data Analytics has helped to organise. In these labs, MIT students hope to inspire school pupils with enthusiasm for STEM subjects. Phoebe Li and Kenny Derek from MIT visited FAU in January and taught pupils at Ohm Gymnasium in Erlangen.

Why did you participate in the Global Teaching Labs?

Li: The main goal of the Global Teaching Labs is to help us find out if we like teaching. We also participated in this programme because of the cultural experience. I have never been to Europe before. Germany is such a great country and the food is so delicious.

Did you get the chance to visit other parts of Germany?

Derek: Yes, we went to cities nearby like Nuremberg, Bamberg and Würzburg. We also visited Berlin. And we went skiing with Professor Eskofier, so we got to see the Alps as well.

Which subjects did you teach at Ohm Gymnasium?

Derek: Our schedules were different. We taught four to six different classes twice a week. Phoebe taught biology and chemistry and I taught maths and IT. We also both gave presentations to English classes.

Li: In our first week, we sat in the back and just observed the lessons so we could understand how the students learn and how we should teach.

How did you like your role as a teacher?

Derek: I liked it very much. I had to plan my own lessons and coordinate them with the real teachers, which was a great experience. And I thought it was cool for the pupils to be taught by someone of a similar age to them.

Li: Teaching the students was really amazing. They liked talking to us and hearing what we had to say. I think they enjoyed practicing their English language skills. During lessons, we tried to use a lot of pictures that showed the vocabulary. For biology, in particular, it was important to have the translations because a lot of the terms are slightly different in German and in English.

Did you have the chance to look around FAU?

Li: The representatives of FAU took us to some of the buildings in the city centre and showed us the campus and the cafeteria at Langemarckplatz. And I was really fascinated by all the bikes in Erlangen – there were so many.

Derek: They also showed us the ‘Zuse Z 23’, which was the first electronic computer system at FAU. I’m a computer scientist, so it was very interesting.

Did you learn some German?

Li: Yes, a little bit. We now know some foods like ‘Spätzle’ or ‘Sauerkraut’.

Derek: In the beginning I used to struggle with the doors so much. Now I know what ‘drücken’ and ‘ziehen’ mean.

For more information about the MIT Germany programme visit:

FAU alexander magazine

Cover FAU-Magazin alexander 110
Click on the image to open the pdf file.

This text was first published in our magazine alexander. In Issue 110, we are taking a look at 100 years of the School of Business, Economics, and Society, looking through bones and images of the self and others. In addition, we’re discussing funding and support for teaching, oil ‘magnets’ and life-threatening superstitions.

You can find more articles from alexander in this blog.