One Month Until Departure

First! I found out. It’s pronounced “Lin-shuh-ping”.  So now you know how to read it!

Today marks exactly one month until Jac-Attack (Jaclyn Spraetz) and I depart for Linköping, Sweden.  It’s one of those weird milestones; I feel half like it’s way too soon and I don’t think I’ll be ready, and half like it may as well just be tomorrow because I’m so revved up about going.

Good news! This week Jaclyn and I found out our placements!  For the first four weeks, we’ll be at the same middle school with 1 cooperating teacher (CT) and two other teachers who aren’t our official cooperating teachers but these three women work closely together.  While we’re at this middle school (we’ll be in the same classroom) we’ll be teaching U.S.-equivalent 7th and 8th graders some simple young adult literature as they learn to more effectively read and write in English.

After these first four weeks, Jaclyn and I will transfer to different secondary schools.  Jac-Attack will be at the Katedralskolan (Cathedral School), a “posh” school that offers an International Baccalaureate program.  The COST (Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching) coordinator said it’s a school that tends to focus on getting graduates into elite institutions of higher education — Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, etc. Dr. Brennan also described it as “Hogwart-esque” so that made me pretty jealous.

Dr. Brennan had just returned from Linköping and relayed that when she visited my school, the schedule was so jam-packed and she was so intent on meeting every single person we would be working with that she hadn’t written the information down.  She remembered a few details, but I ended up emailing our site coordinator in Linköping, Lena Örnestrand to get more details.  Dr. Brennan had referred to the school as vocational, so I did a little research while I was waiting on Lena’s reply (I didn’t take into account the time difference when I sent the email) and sincerely thought I was at Berzeliusskolan, a school that focuses on mathematics and technology.  Needless to say, I would have been a fish out of water here.  I was elated when I got the email back from Lena and it said I would be at Anders Ljungstedts Gymnasium.  My school is less elite than Katedralskolan, and is somewhat similar to a vocational school in the States, students go there because there are special curricula that attract them.  My two CTs at Anders Ljungstedts are Lizelotte Carlberg (head of the Social Sciences Program) and Susan Svensson (head of the Handicrafts Program).  While I’m there, I’ll be teaching English A and English B to 14-16 year olds; this entails teaching some more mature young adult literature than we will be teaching at the middle school, and ensuring students can communicate effectively (verbally) with each other in English.  They’ll also be refining their spelling, grammar and punctuation in writing.

I’m so glad I got this information; it seems that what I’ll be teaching will align quite well with Kentucky Common Core standards.  In fact, Lena sent me a copy of the nationalized Swedish educational standards, and English A standards align — conceptually — quite well with Kentucky Common Core 9-10 standards, and English B standards align with Kentucky Common Core 11-12 standards.  Maybe sometime I’ll show you the chart I made of both countries’ standards.  If you’ve been lucky enough to hear me whine about how anxious I was about my time in Sweden translating to teaching full-time in Kentucky, know that knowing this should (for the most part) quell the whining.

Other than finding out information about our schools, Jaclyn and I also learned more about the town.  Linköping is apparently a smaller town (I’m thinking maybe like Athens, OH?) that hosts Linköpings Universitet and, according to Dr. Brennan, not much else.  I love this.  I’m really excited about being in a small town — it’ll be so much easier to get around and it’ll be quiet and it will probably feel safer than if we were living in Stockholm.  Stockholm is only 2.5 hours away by train, so we can always go there for the day if we need time in the big city.  Jaclyn and I will be living in the same dorm (at least that’s what it sounds like) in Linköping, and we’ll each have a private room and bathroom.  The floor will have a shared kitchen, so we can bake cookies or pickled herring or something else Swedish while we’re there.

And last but not least, we were told that on our first day, they will be taking us to the most Swedish of all Swedish places: IKEA!

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