The weather has been pretty nice at times and unbearable at other times here in Berlin. I think I have acclimatised quite well though since I moved here, much to the dismay of my fiance (I got engaged recently). She rolls her eyes when I say that I am cold when the temperatures are in the low 20s.
The winter temperatures are notoriously low which I am not looking forward to considering the energy crisis we are currently in here in Europe. Having said that though, it wasn’t bad earlier in the year. There were some days when my bones were shaking, and I made it my mission to teach vocabulary kinetically to warm up.
Temperatures can soar into the high 30s here in the German capital, which I’ve been told is a bit abnormal. A couple of weeks back I had to teach 6 lessons back-to-back on a day that reached 38 degrees celsius. I kept thinking to myself leading up to that day, “Just survive.”
Working during this type of weather can be challenging for all working professionals. As teachers, we often have to work in confined spaces with other people in close quarters (less so after the pandemic I guess, for me anyway). Oxygen levels deteriorate quite quickly, especially if grammar is being worked on! I used to work in a school where the ventilation was so poor I thought my students were going to pass out.
To combat this, I often took my students to the park and we did our lessons all morning or afternoon from there. We found somewhere quiet, set ourselves up in a way that looked like a picnic, and we had our lessons there in the glorious sunshine. I think the students benefited a lot from these sessions as they were able to let their hair down, and had the opportunity to socialise more with their peers. It’s also nice to be outside and converse with the students and see how they operate in the real world, for instance, when we pop into the shop for a bite to eat or bump into a stranger by accident. It’s here where I can help them with something that I probably couldn’t do as effectively as back in the classroom.
Colder months in the classroom are a lot easier to manage. It takes a while for students to get on board, but I usually have them up and out of their seats doing things to get their blood moving for the day, for example, a walking debate, or a running dictation. Things like this allow them to shake off the cold or rain and get energised for the lessons.
Talking about rain, have you ever noticed how much of an impact rain can have on the students’ mood? I guess it’s true for everyone. I always keep in mind not to do grammar or something intensive when the heavens open. I don’t know, I just feel like students are at a low ebb after coming in from the cold. Rain can be a real killjoy and can really spoil their day.
I can’t imagine what it must be like for teachers in other parts of the world who work through all kinds of weather. A good friend of mine who used to teach in Japan said that for the first few months he was working and living there he was physically sick and lost a lot of weight. Since I’ve moved here, I have noticed my diet has changed a lot out of necessity. I’m eating a lot of water-based foods for break and lunch to such an extent that my fellow teachers are teasing me about it! I have no choice though.
The weather can always be a boring point of discussion during small talk, but it can have an enormous impact on your work-life, and I guess it will continue to do so with climate change being the way that it is.