Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Deutschklub: Running a German Club

This year we started a German Club at our school.  My students had been asking about starting one, so I decided this year was as good as any to start.  Here's an overview of how the year went, from the planning to the actual meetings.  Hopefully this will help any of you who are interested in starting a German Club at your school. 

Later I'll post about the actual activities we did this year - today's post is really just to help in the logistics and planning aspects of running a club.

Beginning of the Year: Getting Started

At the beginning of the year, I gave my students a short form to fill out to gauge interest. Our first meeting was actually quite short.  It was to see who was actually interested in coming after school and what they wanted to do as a group.  I asked students some questions to help them structure the club.  

Here are the questions we discussed and the answers students came up with:
  • What day do we meet?  --> Wednesday
  • How often do we meet?  Once a week, twice a month, monthly? --> Students wanted to meet twice a month, but in practice it actually ended up being less due to HSA's, AP testing, midterms, Spring Break, etc.
  • Is the club open to all students or just to students taking German?  --> The club itself is open to all students, but they thought the officer positions should only be available to students who take German.
  • Is there a certain number of meetings you need to attend to be a "full" member? --> Students weren't really decisive on this - they wanted there to be a requirement, but since we weren't sure about the number of meetings when we had the discussion, it was hard to say how many you could miss.  But it was decided that you needed to attend a majority of the meetings in order to be able to do activities where food/materials were provided by the club (i.e. if the club spent money on an activity, it should be for club members only).
  • Should there be a membership fee (to raise money for club activities)? --> No, but if we want to do activities that require materials we can have a fee for that individual activity or bring in everything on our own.
  • Should it be required for members to bring in supplies for activities (this would include bringing in food for general snacking)?  --> Students decided yes, they wanted people to bring in supplies for at least two meetings each year.  In practice, they don't keep track of this and don't seem to mind.
  • What types of activities would you like to do? --> There were a bunch discussed, but I'm sure no one is surprised to know that "food" was the most commonly brought up idea.

German Club Officers

At our second meeting, we had elections for board members.  We have a German Club President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary.  Beforehand, I gave interested students copies of the officer duties (see below).  I told students that officers would need to meet at least once before each German Club meeting to plan the activities and get materials.  I also warned them that these meetings would need to be after school.

Before the meeting, I put the four different roles on the board.  When students arrived for the meeting, students had to write their names on the board under the position they planned on running for (if interested).  Students were only allowed to run for one position.  It worked out that we had two students running for each.

Every student who attended the meeting got a ballot.  The rule was that each student could vote for one person per category (or abstain), but students could not vote for themselves.  

We went by officer position, having the candidates come up and introduce themselves.  Each candidate needed to say:
- Their name
- Their grade (9th, 10th, etc.)
- Their current level of German
- Why they're interested in the position
- What experience they have/why they would be good for the position

I collected the ballots and let them know the winners (I did not reveal the margin of victory).  

Officer Handbook

Officers had a lot of responsibilities.  As the Club Sponsor, I saw my role as a facilitator.  The actual planning and acquiring of materials was supposed to be entirely up to them.  That meant figuring out activities, the materials they would need, reserving rooms/spaces, finding out the cost, etc. was all up to the officers.  They also had the responsibility of planning at least two meetings ahead of time.  

To help them, I created a Deutschklub binder.  It had a variety of materials that helped them in the planning of activities.  The binder was broken down into the following categories:
  1. Officer Responsibilities: President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary each have different responsibilities.  These files are actually based on versions the French Club at our school uses.
  2. Officers: Current officers - names and role (the list of this year's officers will remain next year, in case next year's officers would like to consult them for help/guidance)
  3. Attendance Sheets: Students sign in at each meeting, the attendance sheets are kept here for reference
  4. Meetings: List of meeting dates, summaries of each meeting, copies of any papers that were used for that meeting.  There was also a list of activity ideas students could work with.
  5. Planning Sheets: Sheets to help students plan the meetings.  Students fill in the sheet both before the meeting as they figure out what they need to do to plan the activity, and after the meeting they add notes as to what went well and what could have been done better.  These will be references for officers next year who want to plan similar activities.
  6. Officer Meetings: Minutes sheet for secretary to fill out at each meeting.  I ran the first meeting and included my agenda in this section.  This was also based on the French Club.
  7. Finances: Simple chart for students to write in notes about any money collected/raised for activities, as well as what was spent.  There was also room for students to include receipts.  It's important to note that although students were in charge of keeping track of the finances, they were not allowed to collect or handle money (school policy).  
  8. Fundraising: This section is currently empty (we didn't do any fundraising this year).  Anything that we do in the future will be included here.

Point System

I've seen that some clubs use a "points system" to determine if students are full time members.  Basically, students would get points for different contributions to the club.  For example, attending a meeting might be 5 points.  Bringing supplies for a meeting might be 10 points.  By the end of the year, students would need to acquire a certain number to be considered a "member in good standing."  We didn't use this system this year, but it's something we might try next year.  

- Frau Leonard


  1. I am thinking about starting a German club at my school and this was so helpful! Thank you for posting!

  2. So helpful - I love how the onus of the club lies with the students. Thank you for sharing!