Lou faces the changes

Hey, I’m Lou and this is my #afterschoolchallenge.

There is this one thing on my mind: What happens at the Oberstufe (upper level of German grammar schools)?

Everybody knows it – school, summer holidays and school again. What’s next for me is Year eleven of the final three years, followed by Year 12 and 13. Preparations for A-levels, A-level exams, written tests and stress. Only to take a leap into the unknown afterwards. But somehow I have the feeling that everybody is focussed on the things of the distant future. Nobody bothers about the fact that we start our final three years now, yet it is exactly this what lies ahead of us.

The serious side of life begins

School holidays are over! Now I’m asked to know things of which I’ve never heard before. Of course, before the central final exams they all said that it would be really difficult, and in the end most students found it easy. And perhaps it will be just like that again.

But I can’t prepare myself just like that because I don’t know what I don’t know, if you understand.

Nathalie decided with gut instinct

“After and even during my A-levels I frequently wondered what I’d like to do. At the Oberstufe I decided rather spontaneously on maths and German as my major subjects.

I had rather decided with gut instinct – I even had some difficulty in maths.”

25-year-old Natalie comes from Cologne and has written a blog post about her decision to study German language and literature.

But what will change?

Yet it’s not just the classes that will change, but we or I will change, too. I know that change is good and necessary and what not. But this doesn’t mean, that it can’t be frightening. Some of my friendschange school, some go abroad for a time. In my courses I’ll get to know a lot of new people. People I’ve never seen before, people I’ve been in love with. People I like and people I don’t like. But that’s okay, isn’t it? Don’t we all get a bit nervous when something great, new and unknown is instore for us?

As a teacher, Sönke can understand Lou’s situation only too well

Dear Lou,

yes, indeed, there will be major changes at the Oberstufe, many of which you have already named. At the beginning, however, they will appear much more drastic than in the end. For many students the Oberstufe is also a new beginning, a change from the strictly predefined working structures of the Mittelstufe (upper-intermediate level of German grammar schools) to learning and researching, which is much more self-determined. A lot of the decisions which have been made for you by your parents or teachers will now have to be taken by you and shaped according to your own ideas. This change, however, holds a few dangers too, especially for students who have not thoroughly experienced or internalised working independently. So as teachers, we often find that some students can’t really cope with this new liberty and also, of course, responsibility. Unfortunately, this often affects marks, which are normally relevant to A-levels from Year 12 (qualification phase 1 at German grammar schools) on and thus contribute significantly to your final mark over the entire period.

Nevertheless, the Oberstufe is ultimately not only about marks and the best school-leaving qualification, it is also important to be open to new experiences and changes. With a bit of fun and ambition, things usually fall into place and before you know it, you have passed your A-levels, which then enables you to explore new avenues, gain experience and change things.

Best wishes Sönke Walther, senior teacher at a German grammar school

Lisa is very glad about her decision in retrospect

“I thought it was good that there were no forms any more. Even so, I was unsure as to whether I had chosen the right subjects.🤭 But I can say in retrospect that eventually I felt very comfortable with German and education as my major subjects. :-)” 22-year-old Lisa from Hürth  

Hamburg has teachers rated by students

In Hamburg teachers are to be rated by students. What do you think of this idea? Click here to read the newspaper article about it. Give us your opinion in the comments.

My #girlsforgirls tip

No matter whether it is Oberstufe, studies or the first new job. We all go through the same things, sometimes again and again. So let’s start it together and support one another.

Better together

How about your new beginnings? What’s on your mind? Have you got any tips how to start afresh in a relaxed manner?

Yours Lou


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