Ute Weber has been teaching English and geography at an all girls' school for three decades. But sometimes she wishes she were a businesswoman.
Ute Weber has heard all the cliches and jokes about teachers. "God knows everything, but teachers think they know everything better" is one adage she's particularly not fond of.
Weber teaches English and geography 25 hours a week, but she is quick to stress that her position is no half-time job. Preparing her lessons and correcting assignments – especially for her English classes – takes up a lot of time.
Most students say that school starts too early. Weber herself wouldn't have a problem with starting the day later. Yet she gets up a half an hour early every day just to eat breakfast and read the newspaper with her husband Bernd – a ritual that is of great importance to the couple. Bernd, who teaches at a different high school, is in charge of making breakfast.
Always something new
Weber's school is just three kilometers from her home, but she chooses to take her car rather than carry heavy books and binders. Once behind the wheel, her thoughts are already focused on teaching; sometimes she even gets new ideas for her lessons on the way to work.
Ute finds it easier to teach girls than boys
"I'm pretty spontaneous," she says of her teaching style, adding that she always tries to offer her students something new – as far as the prescribed syllabus will allow. "I never do the same thing twice," she says. "Otherwise it would be terribly boring."
Weber's class can be a lot of fun when she gets in the swing of things, one tenth-grader admits.
Though her homeroom students in grade 7 don't find the teacher too strict, they still say it's best not to make her angry. "I try to establish the rules and then stick to them," Weber stresses.
At the same time, Weber doesn't want too much distance between herself and her students. "I am a curious person, myself, and I think my pupils have a right to know a bit about me," she says.
Girls are less demanding
Weber finds girls easier to work with than boys, and is therefore grateful to teach at an all-girls school. Of course, girls can be moody, she says, but at least they aren't as loud as boys. Weber has been happy to teach at the girls' school in Essen's Borbeck district for 30 years.
A lot of time goes into the preparation of lessons
Both of Weber's daughters went to the school as well, but they always had other teachers. Nina, now 28, originally wanted to become a teacher like her mother, but quit her studies in education to pursue economics.
26-year-old Sonja, meanwhile, went to university for cultural and media studies but later became a dog trainer. For now, Sonja has her own dog parlour and shares her parents' cramped attic apartment with her boyfriend. Soon, though, she plans to give up her business and move to Denmark.
Although Ute Weber is happy with things the way they are, she also dreams sometimes of starting anew. She says she can imagine doing something completely different, for example becoming a businesswoman. "I like to organize things, and I'm good at it," she says.
Weber also wants to learn new languages – Spanish, or maybe Portuguese. Though she's always remained faithful to her hometown of Essen, she's decided to start travelling more and take in new sights. The only obstacle is that she can only travel when everyone else does: during summer holidays.
Author: Viacheslav Yurin (dl)
Editor: Rina Goldenberg