“My main goal is that I want to make myself unnecessary. I want them to stand on their own.” – Jan-Martin Klinge, Germany

Jan-Martin Klinge’s favorite quote is, “Far from finished.” We find this appropriate, as this math and physics teacher is just getting started. And given everything he’s already accomplished, we can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Klinge, who we met at E2 in Budapest (check out his short video on E2 here), attributes his success as a teacher to the fact that he was a “wild child” and not the easiest of pupils. And, he’s humble.

Klinge wrote a book about teaching math, but says, “I don’t think I’m a very clever guy when it comes to science. But I’m a teacher of math and physics. To be a teacher of math and physics, I have to ‘go to the ground.’ It’s difficult for me, so it helps me to understand what my students go through when they are learning my subject.”

Whether or not he’s clever is debatable, but the popularity of his blog is not. What once started as a way to share his experiences using OneNote has turned into one of the most widely-read German language education blogs. “It is like therapy,” says Klinge. “Either I go to a psychologist, and pay a lot of money, or I write my blog.”

And as is evident in his blog, Klinge is in the right profession. When it comes to his students, “My main goal is that I want to make myself unnecessary,” he says. “I want them to stand on their own.”

Advice for anyone thinking of becoming a teacher? “It really is the best job in the world,” says Klinge. “Of course it is tough. But every day I go to school and think, ‘I have the best job in the world, and I get paid for it.’ I would do it without any money, but I get paid for it.”

For even more inspiration from this up-and-coming educator, check out Klinge’s incredible learning project here.

Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Jan-Martin Klinge!

What inspired you to become an educator?

I was not a very good student and I don’t think I’m very clever. I have a great heart for my pupils who don’t understand math or just have anything in their minds but school. I was like them.

Today I have more role models I try to learn from. Great “fishers of men,” or wise wizards of physics. Awesome people, and on my best days, I am not as good as them.

What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?

My main goal is, to make myself unnecessary. I always preach to my pupils that they don’t really learn by watching me – they have to do that on their own. Two years ago I gave my course a math problem and they tried hard to solve it. After 30 minutes or so I said that, because of time, I would have to show the solution. A few girls protested and, with my permission, left the classroom, because they didn’t want to hear any tips or solutions. They wanted to go their own way. It was a brilliant moment, because they didn’t need me any more.

Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?

We used the share-document feature to write articles for the German football confederation (DFB). Thirty pupils and one document is chaotic. But with the shared-document feature, we were able to work all together in one document. We wrote articles about the European championship for the DFB, and photographers came last year and documented when we visited the football game Germany – USA in Cologne all together.

Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?
In Germany, we have, in my opinion, two main obstacles. The first is, of course, money. Schools are not able to buy new computers, have access to the Internet for all, etc. Maybe BYOD is the solution to that.
The other issues is our very strict protection of data privacy laws. In a few German federal states, you’re not allowed to use e-mail, Facebook or anything else to communicate with your students. That makes it hard to keep up with the students.

What are you most excited about for the future? What is your biggest hope for today’s students?
I am like a three-year-old child: I’m astonished by the speed of technical evolution. When I see that my 13-year-old pupils have $700 smartphones in their pockets – compared to the (now worth) $150 computers in the “computer room” – I can imagine that something like Windows Continuum will be a big hit in education.

About Jan-Martin Klinge
Math & Physics Teacher

Gesamtschule Eiserfeld

Siegen, Germany

@halbtagsblog

  • Blog URL: halbtagsblog.de
  • Birthplace: Aachen, Germany
  • Website I check every day:spiegel.de
  • Favorite book: Stephen King’s 11/22/63
  • Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: OneNote. Since first edition.
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? In 2007: “Go, buy a tablet PC.” The use of a pen changed the way I studied, changed the way I worked and effects every day of my day-to-day-business.
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