Category Archives: 1.3 Trust & Respect

The Multi-Cultural Evening at ISS

On Friday (4th of May 2018), ISS held its yearly event known as the Multi-Cultural Evening. I had been waiting for this day with anticipated joy because so many people had told me in the run up to it that it was a night that could not be missed at ISS!

What the multi-cultural evening is meant to represent is that the International School of Stuttgart is, as it is appropriately named, an international environment that celebrates its differences on an equal playing field. It is also a reminder to all the students that are part of ISS that they can both celebrate themselves and their peers.

There is a seat at the table for everyone.

Each nation’s table had their own menu on offer to show people what sort of foods are found from their home country

The night began with the school’s jazz band playing the many guests, students and staff into the large assembly hall called the Aula (assembly hall) and then we were all welcomed by the school’s director, Tim Kelley, who started with a profound speech that gave the mission statement of the entire night as a whole: “This is what the world looks like and this is what we want the world to feel like. To be inclusive of all and to be able to celebrate all our differences together”. The message really lasted with me because it is the core essence that I have felt whilst being at the school for these past 2 months. Everyone, no matter their background, is encompassing of one another and we rejoice in our practice through the similarities and differences in languages, cultures and nationalities. I even believe that, because we get to celebrate the other cultures of our peers, we then begin to really have a bigger reflection on our own cultures. This placement has made me proud to be Scottish and to hold onto my traditions and be able to show them to the world in an environment where everyone is equal in merit.

The lower school children took part in a parade to show the different countries that they were from. There were children from Brazil, Cambodia, Croatia, France, Germany, UK, Sweden, America, Russia, Turkey and so many more. Internationality is interwoven into the community of the school; people from around the world are part of this community of globalism and ISS has a responsibility to ensure that that community is welcoming.

This year had a slight change from the previous years in that there was now a competition for who had the best decorated table (each country gets to host a table where they display their traditions and prepare food from their home country for people to try) amongst the participating countries that had prepared their traditional delicacies. India was crowned the winner and rightfully so; not only was their table decorated in Indian art, but they themselves came in the most beautiful traditional attire in so many different variations of colours and embroidered designs.

The Winners of the Night – Some of the Indian community of the school onstage accepting their award. They were not the only ones that had came in the most exquisite traditional garments. Once again, I had wished I had packed my kilt!

Once the parade and award-giving were both finished, we got to then explore the many different tables that were set up across the two levels of the school and we got to try many different delicacies on offer.

I stuck with a few teachers that I have really made great friendships with during my time here because they told me the best route to take to get to the most popular tables first! It was a great laugh to not only be socialising with teachers that were from all across the world, but also to feel like we were in Japan, Croatia, Italy and France for the night with all the amazing stalls that were set up.

The Japanese table was first and then the Indian. We strategically went to these tables in the beginning as there are normally queues. There were so many different types of freshly prepared sushi, edamame soy beans, pork meatballs (tsukune) amongst the decorations of pikachu, dragons and kimonos. The Japanese community were very accommodating in telling us about the food that was on offer as were the Indian community in their traditional attire.

Making our way around the tables, we also saw many different examples of cultures beyond food. One in particular was on the Turkish table where the practice of Ebru art was being shown to the children and they were getting to participate in the art themselves. The Turkish Cultural Organisation (2018) explains that this form of art is paint is submerged in an oil-like substance to refrain from the paints mixing, which allows for patterns and shapes to be made with tools. Once a pattern is made, it can then be transferred onto paper and the whole process can start once again with the oily chemicals.

The Technique of Ebru – The children got to try their hand in the art that is created through creating colourful patterns on a pan of oily water and then transferring the creation onto paper to finalise the art.

Culture Extends Beyond Delicacies – examples of the finished pieces that had been transferred onto paper. It was really an art of patience and a steady hand that was able to create these masterpieces of Turkish heritage.

Whilst people were making their way around the food, the Aula was hosting different performances that were announced over the school’s speakers to say a particular traditional art was being performed. It was perfectly timed that the professional Turkish dancers began to perform when we had made our way back to the hall.

From what I’ve looked up on the internet, the Turkish dance that was performed was a “Zeybek”

There were also kung fu performances from the students that were from China and they got to show the audience their masterings in the martial arts that is famous from their home country. Cheerleading, african dance, flamenco dances and many more performances were put on by the ISS family and they were all spectacular in their own right. I felt very proud for many of the students that got up and presented their arts that are derived from their country of origin.

I also couldn’t help but seek the comforting tastes from home at the UK table:

There’s No Place Like Home – I may have eaten too many scones and pieces of shortbread

What I particularly enjoyed about this part was being able to show and explain to the children of my host family about all the different British (and Scottish) delicacies and they particularly enjoyed trying the banoffee pie and the trifle (after being able to already taste shortbread that I made at home). I also got to show the staff members what my background looks like as a menu along with my fellow British peers that work at ISS.

I was partially adopted by the French table, however, due to the mother of my host family being French and she herself had a great hand in preparing the table with her French peers.

Vive la France! – crepes, wine, macarons and quiche were some of things on offer from the French table.

The French were making freshly prepared crepes for those that wanted a taste of France and many of those that were not driving got to have a glass or two of the finest French wine. I had the car and therefore had to refuse kindly.

Even just reflecting on this night as a personal development point, I would have laughed if a person had told me I would be devouring sushi, dumplings, crepes, curries and (holding onto my traditional home favourite) shortbread – especially in one night! I want to thank all of the helpers that prepared all the meals, the tables and the decorations because without the school community coming together to host an event like this, then people like me would not be exposed to the different ways people live their lives. One of the staff members that I’ve been really supported by during my time here even told me that they had worked across the world’s network of international schools and had never seen an event like the Mulit-Cultural Evening that is hosted by ISS ever in any of the other international schools, proving that it really is a school that flagships culture celebration.

Before the crowds would make their way to their cars to head home, the oldest son and I left in the car just before the winners of the raffle baskets were announced. It was my first time driving in Germany in the dark. It has been quite an experience to take on the high-speed driving of the autobahn for 2 months but it was another to do it in darkness. I will take badly when I return to the speed-limited roads of the UK! I have been driving all over during my placement; Sindelfingen, Stuttgart, Kirchheim unter Teck and even Sillenbuch. It’s been very handy having another driver with the family and I have been very happy to take on the responsibility of taking us places when the parents have had business or the children have particular clubs or events on during the week. It has really increased my confidence in driving and confidence in my own capabilities as a whole; gone are the days when I was first picked up by the family and we were zooming to my unknown place of residence for the 2 months at 200km/h in the Audi and I thought, “how am I going to be able to handle this myself?”. Now, it is me making those trips every morning and afternoon to get to and from school and beyond!

Once we arrived home, we settled in our rooms to sleep with full stomachs and full minds of all the things that we had experienced in one night. I have to say that I felt transported with every table I visited and with every person I interacted with during the multi-cultural evening.

Truly, a one-in-a-lifetime experience: this night, this placement and the school of ISS.

I leave this post with more of the photos I took during the night, however, I believe they can never do the grand event justice. The atmosphere could never be documented:

The Italian Vespa – Italy really stood out for me with their scooter. They served the iconic dishes like pizza, pastas and cheeses.

The Taste of the Caribbean and Africa – the smells coming from this table were amazing. The spices were really aromatic and the dishes looked so tasty. The helpers were also dressed in traditional African clothing which was also great to see

Indonesia’s centrepiece was particularly rememberable.

From upstairs the Croatian table could be seen down below. Also, the usage of “lesen” on the entrance way into the school is a great form of symbolism used by the school. The verb “to read” is used in the foyer in all the different languages that are evident at ISS, which served as a great environment to be hosting such an inclusive event


The Turkish Cultural Organisation (2018) The Turkish Art of Marbling (Erbu) [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 5 May 2018).

Erasmus Visitors at ISS (Section 3)

Much preparation at ISS has been put into this week (16th of April to 20th of April).

This is because of the special visitors that have come to the school. There are students coming from England, Poland and Italy as part of an Erasmus scheme where the partnership is centred around rethinking “Playgrounds as a Learning Environment” with the partner schools.

I have been witness and have supported the work that has gone into this week. Within art, the students have been making displays of their home country’s traditional garments that they wear on special occasions. On the back, as these displays will be showing both sides of the outline of a person, the students were then tasked to either draw their home country’s flag or make their own design using the recognisable shapes, colours and symbols from the flag (interlinking with the visual elements that are crucial to the teaching and understanding of art).

The corridors have been full of the traditional garments – further emphasising the celebration of differences at an international school.

On the 16th of April at the start of the week, students were welcomed into the school with a whole lower school assembly that celebrated the city of Stuttgart, but also the different languages of the visitors. Students were also dressed in their home country’s traditional clothing. I saw kimonos, lederhosen, saris, dirndls and even american football jerseys all across the school (it made me wish that I had brought my kilt with me). The kindergarteners and Nest children (who I worked with during week 5) sang the guests in; first in English, then in German, then Italian and then Polish. It was amazing for all of the children, no matter their background, to be able to experience the different languages that are out there and be able to practice in singing them too at such an early stage – this could even spark an interest later in life and students may even study them further. Then, students that are ISS that are from the visiting countries put on a sketch with some staff members to demonstrate them first arriving at ISS and wanting to learn more about Stuttgart; a particularly useful aspect for me because it gave me more insight into Stuttgart and the surrounding area of the school. We got to then see the German children from Grade 2 sing us through a pretzel song – a famous delicacy in Germany –  that they had also made illustrations for.

The student council were then tasked with taking their visitors to the library where they would be working on their projects centred around playgrounds.

Tuesday (17th of April) was another special day for the visitors who will be with us for the whole week, as they were treated to a multi-cultural lunch. Staff and Parents had prepared dishes from their home country and shared them with the grades 4 and 5 and the erasmus guests. I also got to enjoy some of the foods and they were all so delicious and different from one another. I tried sushi, chill, coconut rice, ham sandwiches, quiche and a mixture of other things! There was so much food and everyone was very full afterwards. It was also great to see all of the kids mixing with one another and including the erasmus students at their tables in the canteen – it highlighted to me how inclusive international school children can be of one another because they understand what its like to be in a strange environment from what they are used to back at home.

The Erasmus Cake – one of the desserts that were available for us during the feast. This particular cake really stuck with the partnerships theme of exploring the learning spaces of playgrounds.

The visitors will be here for the rest of the week and I have made sure to welcome them to the school in the same way the rest of the staff members welcomed me when I first came here in early March.

This all interlinks with section 3 of the portfolio as I am really getting to see the broadness of the stakeholders that are associated with ISS. The interconnectedness of this Erasmus partnership has shown how the stakeholders can all come together (parents, staff and students) to produce a week of great events that showcase the diversity of the school and, in turn, the wider world as a whole. This all then fosters the learner profile that ISS strives to create within their students.

Something that was also hard-hitting amongst all of the celebration was one particular staff member opened up to us in the staffroom and emphasised that they wished their more conservative family at home could be so open-minded to all of the differences of people in society and that the staff member will miss this ethos at ISS when they return home over the summer. Celebrating differences breaks down the boundaries and I really love the ethos of ISS because all of the parts of learning all correlate to one another to really ensure that open-mindedness is at the core of everything.

alle kleiner Kinder – Week 5 in Stuttgart Reflection

First week back at ISS after the Easter break last week and I feel that I have been able to get back into the structure of working at the international school of Stuttgart and gain new knowledge once again in terms of professional development.

Before the holidays, I had worked my way down the grades right to grade 1. This week progressed this continuation of moving down the grades as I began my work with the Early Years team at ISS. This meant working with both the Kindergarten and the Nest teams and children.

Now, I will admit that before this week I hadn’t much experience working with younger children within an educational setting, hence why I made the decision that I wanted to see the whole perspective of a child’s experience of education whilst working at the international school for Learning from Life. I also knew that much of what we have learned about the Early Years in MA2 would be missed out if I didn’t get to experience it in a real-life practice this year before my MA3 placement next year when I will work at the lower end of the primary school system in Scotland.

So I spent the first half of the week (9th of April – 11th of April) working with the Kindergarten children. The children within the two classes ranged in the ages of 5 to 7 depending on their prior experience within educational settings (one particular child was older but was never part of any form of formal education and therefore was put in Kindergarten to introduce them to school). They were very enthusiastic to interact with me and tell me all about themselves.

I also got to tell them a little bit about me when exploring the concept of time as I investigated the different time zones with the teacher to show the students what the time was in Scotland, what the weather was like and how it differed from Germany (and even their own home country).

What I loved about the two classes were that their learning environments were totally different from one another; emphasising the importance of individuality for teaching practices. One class was very regimented in its layout where clear areas for particular learning (role play, quiet reading and chill out area, letter/number forming and art areas) were clearly evident. The other class was much more carefree in the layout of the room and was more flexible in terms of allowing the children be more independent in choosing what they did within the room depending on the task they were doing. Yet, they both worked very effectively within their own right. It really proved to me that there is no one way of having your classroom set out because if that was the case, teaching wouldn’t be so flexible. This allowed me to get firsthand knowledge into early years classroom layout strategies.

Now, what I really learned from the practitioner that had the open-spaced classroom this week was the beauty of allowing enough time for learning. Monday morning was really testing of my patience because the teacher made it her job to give the simple (what I thought was simple) task of writing out the date on the board to the children but it took far longer than what I expected…

This was because the teacher made sure that it was solely the children’s job to complete the task of writing the date with only minor prompts from her so there were many different suggestions of what day it was, what the number should be drawn like, how it should be displayed correctly etc. At first, I thought that it would be so much easier just to write it yourself and to get on with the lessons of the day. However, as my short time progressed with the kindergartens, I soon realised there was a great purpose behind this approach that really needed a patient and consistent practitioner – giving me an area where my opinion on teaching completely changed. Once the date was completed, the teacher then got the children to work out how many days were left of the term with chain links on the board. Many questions of, “what should we do if we have this number of days in total and we know how many days are left?” were asked by the teacher and then the task was left to the children to work out themselves. I was amazed that such young children were skilled in working with numbers. It proved to me that starting with concrete materials will ensure sound knowledge is the first layer in the building of a strong foundation in numerical skill. This all relates back to the overall purpose of ISS – to foster inquirers that will go out into the global world and really make a difference with the determination that they can do whatever they set their hearts on with hard work.

It was because of this morning routine, that consisted of working with date and time, place value and number identity (mind you, this was all in English with children that mostly do not have English as their first or even second language so it was also assisting in language acquisition), the children could really be at the forefront of their own learning. Even during the children’s snack time, they were coming up to the board and explaining their thinking in working out how old I was when I gave them the year I was born in. The young children took it upon themselves to start their own inquiry in number work to work out my age by subtracting the year it is now with the one I provided them with – which was also assisted by the teacher aiding in prompting the children to use different strategies to find their answer.

Overall, what I really took away from the easiness of learning that the teacher had was that we may always worry about the next thing that needs to be completed by the children, but real secure learning comes when that extra amount of time is truly spent on real moments of learning. Quality over quantity, particularly in the early stages, ensures that learning is really profound. Not only this, but the whole ideology that is evident across the whole of ISS is beginning to take shape in Kindergarten because the children are learning to be inquirers from the get go – their natural curiosity is really being fostered because it is them going about with their learning with the teacher. They aren’t being told how to do something or to just learn something, they themselves are taking an interest in learning that is part of their everyday lives (little scenarios like counting how many days it was until a child’s birthday were used to advance mathematical skills).

So, I may have originally felt at the beginning of the week that time was almost being wasted away over an everyday task, but I soon realised what deep learning these tasks held when a well-knowledged teacher was pointing children in the right direction, rather than entirely leading the learning process, thus establishing a shift in my overall teaching ideology – something that I will take into great consideration later in my practice. Time is crucial. 

A contrasting example of practice that wasn’t evident in the other grades as much was the importance of free play. Children were allowed time everyday to play (something that the host family’s son was very jealous of when he heard about it from me). However, this play wasn’t entirely left to the devices of the children: once more, the teacher had set up stations that would aid in particular learning points – art stations that fostered creativity, iPad stations that tested mathematical skills through the medium of technology and the role play station that was given a voted “setting” that the children had to construct and act out with materials (campsite won this week). I came to realise that play itself is natural to children and that the best kind of learning can be found through allowing kids to be kids – so long as it is also purposeful: “It is through play that children explore their world, learn to ask questions, to solve problems and to socialize” (International School of Stuttgart, 2017, p.4). Teachers need to be there to move the learning forward within play. Answer those questions or pose new ones to get them thinking further – these are some of the changes I’ve been making to my practice at ISS.

What was also evident during my time with the early years was the emphasis on “Outdoor Learning”. The children had the unit of inquiry that centred around plants and living things. The children had the task of planting over 250 trees around the borders of the playground. However, they did not need to do this entirely alone as Grade 5 were also tasked with collaborating with the young children to ensure that the bigger jobs of digging and lifting the plants were done properly so not to injure one of the little ones. It was great to see the intergenerational groups work so well, even through the differences in maturity and experiences of life. For the kindergarteners it was also great for them to use their motor skills to dig, measure and plant the trees to make sure there was enough room for the roots with the assistance of the older grade 5 children. They both got to get a hands-on experience with nature.

Some of the trees that the children planted – The collaboration of the Grade 5s and the Kindergarten children produced a great product of life as the children got to understand a physical representation of their topic around plants.

Beyond this outdoor learning, the children were also given the task of growing their own plants in the classroom whilst using a wet tissue paper to soak the seeds on a plate that was put in direct sunlight. Now, I remember doing this same topic with children that were double the age of the Kindergarten kids, so I first thought that it would be a challenge for both the students and the teacher. However, once again, I was proven wrong. Freedom was utilised by the teacher in that the children were given the free choice of what seeds they wanted to grow – carrots, tomatoes, different types of flowers and more were all on offer. Scientific questions were already being asked by the children also when resources were being distributed – “Don’t the seeds need soil to grow?” “How will the seeds all grow if they are different plants?” and “how will they grow on a plate?”. These were all replied with more prompts of inquiry from the teacher in a very effective manner of questioning. Whilst it got the children thinking, the teacher made sure to keep the flow of the lesson moving whilst also handing out the various resources and then getting the children to then document their “observation” of what their experiments looked like at the beginning. All of this culminated towards a great first science experiment that fostered the inquisition skills that will be very important when the children progress to more advance science as they age.

It wasn’t all happiness in Kindergarten however either.

Interlinking with the pedagogical understanding that young children find it difficult to empathise with others as they are predominately egocentric at their early stages of development, I got to fully realise that many young children cannot understand that others have different viewpoints from their own until the ages of 7, which works in line with the views of Piagetian theory (Halpenny and Pettersen, 2014). It was interesting to see how conflicts were resolved in an early years setting, as they differ greatly from the older children. Some of the conflicts are the first that a child is ever experiencing as school is normally the first place that they are in groups with people that they need to work with (which brings about the possibility for conflict in the first place). Although very minor issues in the grand scheme of things, it was my job to really work children through their conflicts to find resolutions, thus establishing children that could grow into resilient individuals.

Thursday and Friday (12th and 13th of April) were spent with the Nest, which is the Early Years Programme before Kindergarten and Grade 1 at the school of ISS. Children range in the ages of 3 to 5 and a  clear difference between the Nest and Kindergarten is that the Nest is more collaborative  as the children are divided into 3 groups that are each assigned an adult that is in charge of them (categorised predominately by their age), however, much of the time they are working as a whole through learning, as they work between rooms and groups. The Nest children normally begin outdoors in the morning then partake in circle time and then work around centres that are set up by the teachers.

There is even, nearer the end of the day, quiet time where the younger children can have a nap if it is needed or to just chill out and listen to a story.

An example of the mattress and sleeping bag that the Nest children use during their quiet story time where many of them get a well-deserved nap.

Thursday was an interesting day because some of the staff and children were missing due to the public transport strike in Stuttgart and other parts of Germany occurring. Buses and trains were cancelled which meant that some people couldn’t make it (this also tested my driving skills with the increase in volume of traffic that morning, but I digress). This meant that we had to be spread across the groups more due to there being less staff members (however fewer children also helped the flow of the day with less teachers). The youngest children also got to go out and go on a forest expedition with staff members and parents, which interlinks with the German’s system of early years education of Waldkindergarten – forest nurseries. Much of the pedagogy behind the early years practices at ISS are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach.

The plan of the day for Thursday – Notice the forest trip. Also, the differences in the layout of the day can really be seen when comparing the other grades, as students progress through education.

Friday also brought more challenges as staff members were ill unexpectedly and we had all the children in. It, however, really showed me how successful practitioners can be when they come together in the wake of obstacles and challenges. The staff at ISS really came together to fill the gaps of roles of responsibilities that the different teachers that weren’t there left and it was helpful that I was there to assist. I was also in charge of establishing a station in the “movement room” where the children had to use their body to build role-play scenarios using the resources in the room. It was great to see the creativity of the young children to make their house out of giant cushions and then create characters that fit into the setting they were creating. It also showed me that many of these creative skills are employed as the children progress through development and education (they’ll be using this creativity like when the grade 1s had to think of written dialogue for the actions of my character before the holidays).

This week has established a great foundation of knowledge in early years practice, something that I will build upon as I progress through my time as a practitioner. I’ve found that there is less marking with the younger children, however, the practices are far more physically demanding in terms of having to do a lot of the thinking for the children in planning. Being explicitly clear in instruction is crucial within this too. Also, much more emotional support (although emotional support is very important at all stages) needs to be provided to ensure that young students come into education with a happy outlook towards it, particularly as this is their introductory stages to education and school as a whole. There is a lot more outdoor learning and a lot of benefits come with that as children that get to explore and play within and with their environment in a mulit-sensory manner get the reap the benefits of greater quality development and a better overall understanding of both their environment and themselves (Burghardt, 2011).

However, the biggest development this week I think is in my understanding that time must be given in ample amounts to children – at any stage.

Learning cannot be rushed

Pressures on teachers to satisfy boxes and checklists really hinder the learning for students because they are then advanced through a topic far too quickly and they do not establish strong learning, which really shows that doing tasks for learning far too fast might as well not be done at all because the children do not gain any real substance from it.

Next week will see a shift in pattern as I will move all the way back up to Grade 5 to help in their work towards their exhibition.

Today, also marks a month until I will be returning home back to Scotland and I cannot believe where the time has went and how I have packed so much learning in a months time. I know that my second month in Stuttgart will also be as (or even more) fulfilling.


Burghardt, G. M. (2011) Defining and recognising play. In A. Pellegrini Ed. Oxford handbook of the development of play New York: Oxford University Press pp. 9-18.

Halpenny, A.M. and Pettersen, J. (2014) Introducing Piaget: A guide for practitioners and students in early years education London: Routledge.

International School of Stuttgart (2017) EY 3/4 Nest Handbook 2017-18. Stuttgart: ISS.

Frohe Ostern! – Week 4 Reflection in Stuttgart

Although I am on my easter break this week, I still feel that it is necessary to write another weekly reflection, because I am still gaining a lot of learning in culture and language with my host family. Furthermore, this time has allowed me to explore the town of Kirchheim unter Teck more.

Frohe Ostern! – I got to participate in the host family’s easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday

On the Easter weekend, I got to enjoy many of the traditions that German people uphold in their celebration of Ostern (Easter). My host family had already decorated Easter trees around the house, had easter eggs all prepared and we even had an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday in the garden! It was beautiful to see some of the German traditions come alive in a real life setting – it was interesting to finally see it all transpire in the flesh when comparing what we learned about German culture in school. I must say, however, I think that I have eaten far too many chocolate eggs! We spent Easter Sunday completing the egg hunt and then celebrated with a home cooked roast together, which was really lovely and it made me feel really part of their family unit.

Being off the school has allowed me to engross myself in the everyday usage of the language of German – going to the shops, buying things, interacting with the family and people in the town in the state of Baden-Württemberg. This has benefited the advancement of my skills in speaking and listening, particularly within everyday scenarios. Gone are the days where I am trying to remember specific vocabulary for a presentation in German, now I am actually having to use the language to communicate specific points in order to be understood. I was even preparing shopping lists in German so that I knew I was getting the right things! As small as these milestones are, it really shows that I have had to really go back to basics to really utilise the skills that I established in studying the language of German in both school and the University of Dundee. I may know abstract vocabulary for global issues that we learned about, however, simple conversations have been a lot more trickier but also a lot more fulfilling when I have successfully communicated my point across.

Tuesday brought about some amazing sunny weather, with a nice warm heat of 21 degrees, that we were able to enjoy (what made it even better was getting updates back home that the weather has not been good in Scotland). I got to travel around the town I am staying in and enjoy some of the architecture and the lovely scenery that is evident in the area – much of the town is mountainous and rural very much like Scotland (Kirchheim unter Teck’s name translates to the town of Kirchheim that is under the mountain Teck). I also got to enjoy a nice meal at a traditional German restaurant (supposedly it was the location where the state of Baden-Württemberg was discussed as being formed into one state, as it was historically smaller states that were formally combined in the 1950s). This also led to the family introducing me to some of their friends. What was particularly interesting about these friends was that their German was somewhat different from the German that I am used to hearing from school listenings and news clips. They had a specific dialect of German known as Hochdeutsch (literally high German). I was able to understand main parts of their speech, however, much like when us Scots speak very fast in our dialect, it became quite tricky to understand everything that was being said. This showed me that, very much like English, there are various different dialects to German besides the traditional version we are always exposed to in school and in movies. I think that this interesting variation in dialects and language would be an interesting area to explore in a Scottish curriculum setting, as it would engage students in relating to the differences in their own dialects and language when exploring the styles and variations of another.

An example of Maultaschen (sourced:äbische_Maultaschen_2.JPG)

I have also been able to dabble in some cooking of German food whilst with my host family. A particular dish that has intrigued me the most is Maultaschen (singular – Maultasche). It literally translates as a feed bag (Maul – mouth + tasche – bag) and it is a unique dish that is at the heart of Baden-Würtemberg and was recognised as a regional speciality in 2009 by the European Union, which protects the dish as being produced only in the area that invented them as it is a Swabian speciality. The closest thing I can relate it to is ravioli, however, it is packed more fully with a minced meat and herbs substance in the middle. They are very savoury and tasty and are a core element to the culture of the Swabian heritage that is evident within the area of Baden-Würtemberg.

However, I have also been able to share some of my Scottish heritage with the host family. On Wednesday night it was my responsibility to cook dinner so I thought I would prepare something Scottish – stovies. Although it did not require gourmet cooking, I found it a great achievement for me to be able to cook a meal completely from scratch for the family. They loved the meal and found it very filling. It was also good to be able to taste something that is very reminiscent to a meal at home. I’m lucky that my grandmother showed me how to make the tastiest stovies! This means that I have not only been able to learn about a new culture, I have also been able to share my own with others, which interlinks with the core purpose of ISS (and also one of the many goals that I wanted to achieve whilst being in Stuttgart). Not only did I cook a Scottish meal, I also baked some Scottish shortbread on Thursday evening. This placement has not only advanced my professional outlook on education, my understanding of German language and German culture, but it has even allowed me to improve my culinary skills – something that is necessary for independence in life (something that I aimed to achieve through this placement). I really am “Learning from Life” because through everyday interaction, I have been able to make big leaps in my own self-concept. Formerly, I would have just bought shortbread from a store, however, being in a different country where that isn’t so easily possible, I had to use my initiative to create my own (and, it is actually an easy biscuit to bake. In future, I think I might bake my own shortbread instead of just going to a shop for some).

The shortbread that I baked for my host family – the sharing of cultures and traditions is proof in itself that differences can bring people together – the core ethos of ISS.

I have also seen a great development in the English of the son of the host family with them having me here. His volume of speech has expanded a great amount with coherence becoming stronger with every conversation he has with me. It is also evident that he has began to imitate much of the vocabulary that I have specifically used to spark new words and terms that he may have not heard before. His homework for English has also improved and he is not needing as much support from me to be able to complete his book reviews. It has amazed me what a young mind is capable of in terms of language acquisition. English is his third language and yet he uses it very well and I can only see improvements from here on out and I am glad to say that I was a part of that advancement. We have also been helping one another in the desired languages we both want to learn (German for me and English for him) by having conversations in both languages and assisting one another in gaining the required vocabulary we wish to learn, but we have also found it useful to watch movies and TV shows in the evenings in either German or English so that we can hear the languages even more through a multimedia platform. Its also been interesting to show him some of my favourite English movies that I enjoyed as a child and to see that interest be passed on. Its been even more interesting watching some of the most famous English movies in German and being able to correlate some of the phrases from English to their German counterparts (particularly, watching the Terminator movies has been interesting to hear it in German).

Now, to conclude this particular post I believe that I should have a check-in with what I have achieved so far, what I still hope to achieve, and what I think will be my future learning to take away from the entire placement when I return home in May.

Firstly, I feel that I have achieved much of what I have set out to do or I am heading in the right direction to achieving it. Particularly, I have advanced in the skills that I broke down in my audit of skills and I have utilised my prior knowledge of German and Germany to prepare me for interacting with the people in both Kirchheim unter Teck and Stuttgart. Key skills that I feel I have progressed in are sharing opinions confidently and taking risks because I have been able to share my professional feedback to other staff members to give them an outsiders perspective on what they do at ISS, but I have also shared my own personal opinions with people at the school and with my host family in order to show them my way of life and culture. I have taken risks in terms of having teaching points with groups of children and having some whole class interactions with some of the children from different grades as well as I’ve had to ensure that my approach towards teaching correlates with the IB’s guidelines. I’ve used my prior knowledge of last year’s placement to really find my footing at ISS and to be seen as one of the staff members at the school by my professional peers and the students. Furthermore I have investigated into the educational literature surrounding the practices of ISS (particularly the concept of inquiry-based learning and the overall ethos of the school in my other blog posts).  Overall, I believe that I will come out of this experience a changed person. I have more confidence within myself and my capabilities as a person and as an educator. I think that the growth mindset ideology has taken shape in my own educational philosophy: everything that I have faced I have tackled with the mindset that I can achieve whatever it was that I set out to do and it has proved to be a great way to go into things.

Next week when I make my return to the school, I plan to begin my work with the Early Years team at ISS and interact with the Kindergarten and Nest areas of the school in order to use the knowledge I have gained this year in lectures and research in a real life context. I also hope to gain new professional knowledge from the staff that will be experts in what it means to be a successful practitioner with younger children. From then on, I will use the rest of my time working with the grade 5s whilst they prepare for their grand event of showcasing their unique topics of inquiry – the Grade 5 Exhibition.

Niemand hat gesagt, dass Leben leicht ist – Week 1 in Stuttgart Reflection

In such a short space of time, so much has happened.

My first week in Stuttgart has come to an end, and I foresee that the rest of my time here will be just as insightful as this week has been; brimming with multiple points for reflection and development.

Even before I started my work at ISS, I was expanding my knowledge of both the culture of Germany and the language of German, with great assistance from the host family who have welcomed me with open arms. During my stay, I will be working with the family’s youngest son in order to improve his English skills, which will both improve his language skills, due to the exposure to a mother tongue speaker, but also enhance my teaching practice as I will need to work one-to-one with the child to respond to his particular needs in terms of enhancing his English as an additional language skills. Even just day-to-day conversations will no doubt have great impact on the progress of his English knowledge. These skills will no doubt be beneficial when I return to Scottish education, as there will be students that do not speak perfect English at some point in my professional career (which I had last year during 1PP1). This experience will allow me to utilise various professional skills, with setting professional goals being a core area, as I will need to set out goals for both the child and me to progress cohesively.

The view of the garden from where I will be writing most of my blog posts.

My first introduction to Stuttgart was with the family that provided a massive culture shock. My first full day consisted of portfolio planning that was surrounded by the on-goings of George Michael’s “Older” album playing over speakers, to then change into the likes of Debussy and Bach, as the German news was playing in the next room. Alongside this during the first evening meal, the family was communicating across the dinner table in French, German and English, with conversations flowing with ease across the triad of linguistic frameworks that somehow worked seamlessly, as if it was meant for the languages to be experienced together. Opening oneself to different languages and cultures can bring great benefits in my opinion, as this family is proof of it: their children are well above their expected grade levels for their ages and they have gained the necessary skills to examine more languages. The freedom to be able to express oneself in any given language is something that I envy, I wish that much of the UK’s culture and societal view upon language as a whole would be more open to going beyond relying on English as their go-to language (even in countries that do not speak English as a first language). Particularly, when we view it in an educational lens, as the 1+2 scheme in Scotland hopes to fix this issue. However, I believe we need to unpick the societal problem that has a bigger lasting impact on our perception of language as a whole.

However, I must examine my work that I conducted during the first full week at ISS, the International School of Stuttgart, also. For this week, I worked with a grade 4 class, whose teacher has a rich background in working within International schools. This served as a great basis for me to get to understand the IB PYP (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program). In short, the predominant feature of PYP is that the children are heavily involved in their own inquiry-based learning. A key feature in the timetable is a specific slot time for the children’s unit of inquiry, which is a core area within IB.

Furthermore, The teachers plan collaboratively for their whole year of teaching in terms of the specific areas within a subject through an application called Rubicon Atlas, with the example of mathematics being shown here:

The whole grade’s plan for the teaching of mathematics depending on the time frame

They also use a portal known as Veracross to take attendance, track students progress in learning, and make themselves aware of any allergies or health points that a teacher needs to know. This is to coincide with the platform of Atlas.

“Central to the philosophy of the PYP is the principle that purposeful, structured inquiry is a powerful vehicle for learning that promotes meaning and understanding, and challenges students to engage with significant ideas.” (ISS, 2017, pg.5).

Much of the learning within ISS is facilitated through a constructivist approach towards learning, wherein that students will focus on building their learning themselves alongside support from practitioners that will guide them towards the correct avenues of learning, thus the inquiry-based approach is utilised. Within this, topics such as stereotypes, Internet safety, and societal issues coincide with the learning required in research skills – how do I go about making this project? How do I find appropriate sources? How will I know they are appropriate? Why is this important? These are but a few questions that arise with students within their inquiry that is focused towards a particular interest within the child.

The paperwork that I will be familiarising myself with over the 8 week placement.

Within my specific class for this week, we worked through their unity of inquiry through collaborative groups, which were constructed across the entire grade. This meant that teachers were facilitating learning aids and prompts across various classrooms at one time with students working with different mediums within their group, an approach I have never seen in practice until now. What I really gained from this work was that I was able to see that students really had a passion towards the learning that they were doing, it was learning for the joy of learning. I also witnessed some groups following the trends of Tuckman’s group theory of forming, storming, norming and performing (1965), which believed that people working within small groups that need to work towards similar goals, go through different stages of coming together, having conflict, working through conflicts and then going on to meet the aims of their tasks. This is particularly challenging for teachers. I had to work with a particular group that were disputing over the assigned roles within the team (which were required to bring their ideas together to create a presentation) and it was tricky to try and diffuse the situation somewhat, however, it was also even harder to not try and solve the problems myself, as the group dynamics were learning points for the students as well, which IB outlines is a core aspect of learning. This is a massive area for forming internationally-minded students, as people need to understand they will experience challenging group situations within life, and IB is preparing students for them. Furthermore, the types of collaborative projects have been very thought-provoking.

An example of the work I was doing with my class in mathematics – an emphasis on the actual “hows” and “whys” of mathematics rather than just knowing the answer is emphasised in the IB curriculum.

This particular unit of inquiry (UOI) was centred around the whole grade level being sectioned into groups to conduct tasks that interlink with the outcomes required in the IB curriculum around the topic of our lives being so heavily influenced by media in the global world. The central idea is concerned about our understanding that we are both producers and consumers in media-rich societies. Issues like phishing, cyber bullying, photoshop editing, continuing stereotypes through advertisement, social media’s impact on body image and self-esteem issues were split amongst the groups who were assigned different media outlets to express their findings and opinions on the topic. Skits, presentations, animations and news reports all have been created to highlight the precautions needed with media in the global world; we are all consumers of a consumerist world and must be forever mindful of that. Not only that, but we need to be safe online. These groups will come together to form a whole grade project of inquiry that has been predominately student-led. The grade 4s hope to bring together their findings as one informative assembly presentation that will showcase the inquiry they have done.

Also, due to the business being a school, I knew to expect the unexpected in terms of what can happen within a school day and week. However, I ended up being able to go on a school field trip on only my second day of being at ISS. The field trip was to the the Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart (the giant library in the centre of Stuttgart), which allowed me to see the centre of Stuttgart for a short while, also. This field trip was different from the ones I have experienced in Scotland where most of the transport is planned out, timings are crucial and the whole day is set out, with children having little freedom in the sense that they are always accounted for within a teacher’s schedule. Instead, we used public transport with the kids, we planned what we did with the children according to the plans of the tour (for example, we originally hoped to have a picnic lunch outside, however, were able to have lunch at the library itself instead due to it being cold). The kids even got some free play time outside the library before having to get the train back to school, which showed a more relaxed approach to trips with a large group of children, which gave me areas to reflect upon in terms of the health and safety obsessed approaches the majority of the UK maintains.

An example of one of the classrooms in ISS

I have also been able, in my time with the class, to work within small group lessons and conduct one short whole class lesson within mathematics (which, by following the Atlas, you can see that we are focusing on multiplication and division). I was tasked with exploring worded problems that emphasised the exploration of the hows and whys of mathematics. I took great confidence in leading this topic as there was one particular boy in the class that struggled with working with division, however, using the skills that I have gained in the STEM subject at the university from the likes of Eddie Valentine, I was able to break down particular areas that were tricky for the child (especially their understanding of place value) in a far more effective manner than I would have this time last year, which proves to me that I am already boosting in my confidence, particularly within mathematics.

I have also met with the Head teacher and we have mapped out my plans and aims for the placement: I will work my way down the grades, helping and aiding in classes and teaching in some, to experience the differences in the years across a school (4, 3, 2, 1, kindergarden). Then, when it is time for the huge project of the grade 5 exhibitions, I will assist in teaching and aiding the grade 5 students and teachers (something I will blog about more closer to the time!). Thus, concluding my placement with a wider scope of the whole process of learning that goes on in the primary stages of an IB school, but also get to know the school and staff members more whilst gaining experience teaching in an international school environment.

Beyond the school, I’ve been learning more about the culture of Germany and the German language. I’ve also been driving on the Autobahn to get to and from the school!

Looking ahead to the rest of placement, I hope to be able to take more control in terms of teaching points within the school, but also reach out more to the other staff members, as I have already received such a warm welcome from everyone at the school.


ISS (2017) ISS PYP Handbook Degerloch: International School of Stuttgart

Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6), 384-399.

LfL – Section 1

This post contains the information needed in section 1 of the portfolio.

This section of the Learning from Life portfolio should be completed prior to going on placement, which will allow a strong basis for continual reflection points during the placement.

Audit of Skills

Rating of skills (1=Not very developed; 3= very developed)

Skills and Abilities 1 2 3
 Flexibility *
 Confidence *
 Self Discipline *
 Working Under Pressure  *
Setting Professional Goals  *
 Taking Risks *
 Sharing Opinions Confidently  *
 Teamwork *
 Acting as a Leader *

Personal Attributes

Recognition Reflection Action
Skills already developed How will I use these How do I know (evidence)**
 Teamwork Working within ISS, I will be in contact with various staff members and will have to work alongside them in a collaborative manner. Forming strong bonds with the staff at the International school of Stuttgart.


Also, being approachable to the children that will be from vast spectrums of backgrounds due to it being an international school will ensure that I can work collaboratively with the children in a successful manner.

 Sharing Opinions Confidently  In order to gain the most from the placement, I will need to be able to contribute my own opinion, which will need to be backed up with factual understanding in order for my opinions to be taken into real consideration. When my opinion has been put forward and been fully considered by my peers.
 Working Under Pressure  Not only will I be working in a different country that speaks a different main language from my own, I will also be working within a school that follows a different curriculum. Therefore, I will need to push myself beyond my limits in order to surpass the various pressures so that I can be successful.  I will have gained self-resilience alongside working under pressure and will be able to have sustained the expectations and workloads of the internship within the school.
 Setting Professional Goals  Making goals prior to the placement and whilst working within the school in order to succeed in my VIVA at the end of the placement.  My continuing assessment of on going goals will ensure that I will have a successful VIVA.
 Confidence  Being confident to express thoughts and opinions, which will be needed in both English and German  I will increase my confidence in both English and German.
 Flexibility  Being open to change and being adaptable to the varying factors that affect the day-to-day workings of a school  When I can think on my feet when adjustment is needed to be made to practice whilst in the International school


I will be basing much of my knowledge on my first year placement and my previous experiences within working in primary schools prior to university, however, due to this being an international school in a different country, I will need to look at the placement through a different lens. Furthermore, I have learned the language of German up to an advanced level (advanced higher in school and an advanced level as an elective last year at the university) however, I will be experiencing the language in its natural environment. Also, due to the school being part of the International Baccalaureate, I will need to increase my knowledge in the differences in curriculum between that of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and that of ISS. Particularly as the International Baccalaureate strives for creating “internationally minded people” (International Baccalaureate, 2013, pg. 5)

Personal Attributes

I believe that I am a person that strives in challenging situations and I like to be pushed beyond my limits academically and within practice, and I believe that ISS is the perfect place for me to be able to, not only increase my professional development as a teacher, but also see beyond the teaching experience that I gained in Scotland. I want to also use my team working skills to form cohesive bonds with the staff and students at the school, as this will ensure that I will get the best results for my placement. Approachability, resilience and creativity are also attributes I hope to hone.

Professional Values and Personal Commitment (SPR 1) – Pre-Placement Reflections (General Teaching Council for Scotland, 2012)

1.1 Social Justice

  • I will need to embrace the different culture of the surrounding area of the school (Stuttgart, Germany) and take into consideration the various backgrounds of both the staff and the children that I will be working alongside in order to show a real dedication to aiming for social justice, particularly as the school will have people from across the globe under one cohort and student base.

1.2 Integrity

  • Criticality must be at the forefront of my practice, as this opportunity will allow me to see a completely different curriculum, which will allow for a real critical reflection upon my own educational philosophy.

1.3 Trust and Respect

  • Acting in a professional manner to be able to create an inclusive and accepting aura will ensure that both students and staff will feel respected and well encompassed from the get-go of my arrival. I want to be able to be seen in a similar fashion as the pre-existing staff members at ISS in that, I will be there to support all students and staff members.

1.4 Professional Commitment

  • Lifelong learning coinciding with continual collaborative practice will mean that I need to reach out as much as possible when opportunities arise for my services to be put to the test, for example, extra-curricular activities, staff meetings and CPD events, which will probably differ in comparison to those in Scotland, will be very beneficial for me so I should put myself forward for them when possible.

Identification of Skills and Knowledge 

I have a strong understanding in terms of the environment of Scottish education due to placement and the multiple workshops during the 2 years of being in university, however, have limited knowledge in terms of the differing curriculum and philosophical approach towards education as a whole, thus making it an area that I will need to work on. This placement will play well into to the skills that I was able to develop during my first year placement in that I will be returning to the environment of a primary school. During the placement, i will be staying with a Germany family, which will require my skills in the German language being tested and explored within its naturally spoken environment. I will need to use my people skills in order to overcome the language barrier that will no doubt be a challenge at first, as it has been some time since I have utilised the language. Furthermore, I feel that much of my education in the language has been centred around the written format of language, which will be trickier to formulate into speech and to also be able to engage with spoken German that is being said to me, at first.

Reflection of Experience to Date

UK-German Connection

UK-German Connections Logo

Reflecting upon my experiences as a whole, I can utilise my pre-university experiences that I gained as a UK-German Youth Ambassador for the government-funded organisation that aimed to bring young people together to promote the learning of languages and my current university experiences to show my passion for both language and education. Dana and Yendol-Hoppey (2009) find that teachers need to be flexible to any given context they are put into, and that a welcoming attitude will serve any teacher well, thus meaning that I should be open to change, especially within a situation that is very abstract from my usual experiences. 

What I hope to Achieve

  • I hope to improve both my understanding of the language of German and the culture of Germany, which will be best achieved through participation with my host family and any events at the school (Interlinks with Social Justice – SPR 1 as I will need to consider the local and global values that surround the school and my host family).
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the International Baccalaureate system, particularly the progression of the Primary Years Programme – I will be coming with a good knowledge in the Scottish education system, however, I feel it is necessary for me to learn as much as possible about the IB system, as it will give me more areas for reflection in terms of my educational philosophy when being faced with an entirely knew format to teach towards (Interlinks with Professional Commitment – SPR 1 as I need to be dedicated to continually learning new ways to hone my professional practice) – I also feel it would be beneficial to make contrasts and links between the two where possible.
  • Expand my professional knowledge in terms of strategies, teaching methods and approaches towards teaching through both observation and teaching of my own. I would also like to see more than one class levels to see a full scope in a child’s education within the International School of Stuttgart (and, in turn, understand the differing levels in education as a whole some more).


Dana, N.F. and Yendol-Hoppey, D. (2009) The Reflective Educator’s guide to Classroom Research: learning to teach and teaching to learn through practitioner inquiry, California: Corwin Press.

General Teaching Council for Scotland (2012) The Standards for Registration: mandatory requirements for Registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland [pdf] Available at: (Accessed: 20 February 2018).

International Baccalaureate (2013) What is an IB Education? [pdf] Available at: (Accessed: 27 February 2018).

IB logo image sourced from wikimedia and UK-German Connection logo sourced from: