Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"Kids will be kids"

 Student desks
 "Restaurant School" ran by the students
 Teacher's carts
 Layout of the school
 Teacher's desk
 Teacher Lounge
 Anders Ljungstedtska Gymnasium 
Summer Celebration, downtown Linkoping

Since I have not talked much about the school, I wanted to devote this blog to the whole reason I am here... teaching! =). The school I have been placed at is often referred to as the Vocational school. Most students who go to this school will get a job after graduating high school. It is grades 10-12, which are ages 16-19. (Yes, I do look younger than most of the students.) As stated before, Mrs. Blume teaches mathematics and is also the teacher's union worker.  When she is not teaching, she is involved with meeting about math or the union (pay, administration issues, scheduling, etc.). There are so many differences in this school than the high schools back home. However, it would be misleading if I did not speak of the similarities as put it simply: kids will be kids. No matter what country, a high school student is a high school student. They love talking to their friends, long to fit in, want to give up when things get difficult, text on their phones, find ways to be a bit rebellious, and are still searching for who they really are...trying to define themselves in any way they can. In the same respect-the teachers here struggle with the same battles that I would assume most high school teachers struggle with: motivating the students, helping them through daily struggles of life, finding ways to keep them on-task, last minute scrambles before national tests, and balancing their 100+ roles that go under what it means to be a "teacher".
As for differences... I will try to break them into sections (what else do you expect from a high school math and special education teacher?):
-Scheduling: This high school is probably more similar to a technical college back home than a high school. Students are not expected to arrive until they have class.. which may be 8:00AM or 10:00AM and are expected to stay at school until their last class, which could run later into the evening. Students may have a break between classes where they go eat lunch, sit outside, etc. much different than 8 minute hall breaks. It seems they have more responsibility at a younger age.
-Grading: Sweden just recently changed their grading system. It used to be something fairly similar to the United States. Now, it is more like a rubric that the teacher fills out about a student's abilities on certain topics such as problem solving, concepts, and reasoning. 
Next week the students will take the National Test. Mrs. Blume will be sitting with different students throughout the day grading their oral responses for the Math portion of the test. I am very interested in seeing how this works. Although they will be speaking in Swedish, I like the idea of allowing students to voice their reasoning and problem solving skills. This idea of oral testing has been going on in English, but it is only the second year for Math. 
-Class Time: Besides one class on Monday, each Math class is an hour long. Typically, Mrs. Blume will give a 20-30 minute lecture on the topic (Geometry, Statistics, Functions, Algebra) and then release students for independent work. During this time, we walk around the classroom checking on progress and answering questions. The independent work typically consists of 12-15 problems with the answers at the end.
-Honesty: The teacher-pupil relationship Mrs. Blume has created is one of much honesty and care. I have enjoyed watching her interact with the students, laughing with them and listening to their concerns. She seems to have such relationship with many students and it is heart-warming to experience. 

So I don't keep rambling on I will sum up the last few days quickly:
Monday was school, eating with Emily and Olivia, booking airport bus from Linkoping to Skavasta
Tuesday was school, McDonald's with Olivia, and searching for current job openings
Today was school, downtown for a celebration of summer and the king's birthday, packing for tomorrow

Tomorrow we leave for London!!!! We have lots of things we hope to see, we will find out how much we can get done in a short amount of time.  We will return Sunday morning. I hope to blog again Sunday evening.

Thanks for reading!! 

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