Playing Favorites

When you start teaching English in Germany, you immediately become familiar with a few key words. One of those words is Streber (or Streberin, for ze ladies), which translates to “teacher’s pet.” This word usually gets trotted out when some students feel that one of the others has overdone it on the homework front – or God forbid – requested more homework.*

"I am NO teacher's pet; only a little bit." Via

“I am NO teacher’s pet… only a little bit.” Via

Any excuse for a reference to The Office. Like most teachers though, I look at it less as a case of someone being a teacher’s pet, and more like this…

“Hey, I asked you all to do something, and someone actually did it! Let’s all mock them now!”

On the whole though, my students and groups are pretty well-behaved. And last week, one of them became my official new Streber, without doing a darn thing.

I was already pretty excited about my new Thursday groups, strictly based on location. If any other teachers out there are not based directly in a city, you might know what I mean on this one. My old Thursday commute involved three trains to get to my final destination, and my new commute is right off of my main line. Now it’s just ten minutes on the train and a 2-minute walk. For someone who lives in the ‘burbs, this is nearly unheard of, and therefore fantastic.** But then the deal got even sweeter.

Our first lesson was pretty much a getting-to-know everybody kind of thing, and of course the students wanted to know where I was from.

“Wisconsin,” was met with the usual blank stares and assumptions that it is in the U.S., somewhere in the middle. Which is more or less accurate. Oh, to be from New York, California, or Florida… how much easier life must be!

But one guy had a very concentrated look on his face, and when I asked him if he knew anything else about my home state, he responded with four little words…

“the Green Bay Packers!”

My response to that was a fairly undignified, “OH MY GOD YES! How in the world do you know that?”

So it turns out that the first NFL game he had ever watched was a Packer game, and therefore he is a big fan. And just like that? Instant Streber.


*It happens more than you’d think. Overachievers.

**So amazing that I am extra motivated to make sure they love me. Or at least, like me a lot.

10 thoughts on “Playing Favorites

  1. This is a real Turbo- Streber!
    Yes, there are some Germans who look sometimes NFL. And there is a homoeopathic number of Germans who like and/ or play this “American Rugby” …
    But the rest is entirely agreed with John Cleese:

  2. What’s the opposite of a Streber – I’ve got a few of those at the moment. Have to bribe myself with cakes not to kill them 😉 Sounds like you really lucked out there! And jealous of the 10-min commute – I took 11 trains today…

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