I know, it’s been over a week since I last updated. But in my defense, things have been kind of boring around here! (Well, boring to read about probably, not boring for me.) There are a few things I keep reminding myself to write about but I haven’t yet, so this is the post for it! Like others, this will be one of those titled-in-bold, section-by-section posts because that’s the only way my tired mind can think right now. Transitions are for the ambitious!
School Dress Code / In-School Discipline
Or…lack thereof. There isn’t a dress code here. For students or teachers. This is kind of neat for me, because I get to wear my jeans whenever I want to and it’s nice to know I could go to school in a t-shirt if I felt so inclined (I have yet to feel so inclined … knowing I can might be enough). However, what this means is that “school clothes” run the gamut from leather leggings and lace shirts to backless shirts to tunics that barely pass the hips to tracksuits. And that’s just on teachers. It’s definitely interesting. I did my practicum at a school where male teachers were usually in dress pants, button-downs and ties and the women were typically in nice (pencil) skirts and fancy schmancy blouses or sweaters so it’s just a tad different. For example, I interacted with a teacher the other day who was wearing red leather leggings, a sheer lace blouse and stiletto booties. Those images are the closest approximations I could find to her outfit. Definitely different than what I’m used to. All I could think when I was talking to her was how uncomfortable those shoes must have been. Can you imagine standing most of the day on heels like that?! Nope, never even gonna try. What’s that To Kill a Mockingbird quote? You’re licked before you start or something?
I looked it up: “Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” Ok then, Atticus, I’m choosing to not be courageous when it comes to stilettos while teaching.
Now, there’s definitely no dress code for teachers but there isn’t one for students either. This means that they wear some of the same styles as the teachers, but even less conservative in most cases. I had one girl come into class with sheer tights on under a leotard. This was worn with Chucks, of course, because Chucks have to be the most popular footwear over here. Nearly everyone wears them and has several pairs in all different colors. This baffles me for a few reasons. #1: It’s Sweden, these shoes are NOT warm. They must be wearing some thick socks under them! #2: They are not comfortable! With all the walking people do over here, you’d think they’d want comfy shoes (I know I do) so what’s with the unsupported, thin-soled Chucks?! They’re so popular (and apparently expensive) that Ida asked if it’s possible for me to buy some and ship them to her when I get back. In case you were wondering, she wants pink.
Ok, so this whole lack-of-a-dress code thing (at least for me) is weird and kind of disquieting. Having no dress code means that you can’t send a girl to get a spare shirt from the office when she shows up with a v-neck down to her belly button and no back, but you can’t send them to the office for anything here. There’s no in-school discipline. While it’s doing a lot for my classroom management and discipline, developmentally speaking, it kind of sucks. Students miss class after class after class (ditching to go get lunch in the city, going to a movie, going to Stockholm, you name it) and you can’t really do anything within the school. The only disciplinary measure for students is that their government stipend for going to school gets taken away after a certain number of absences (20) or a certain number of class failures (more than 75% failure rate for individual students). So students have to try really hard to get their money taken away, so there’s no real external incentive to go to school and most of these kids don’t really internally motivate yet. It’s a little frustrating, but it’s apparently a pretty new system. The Swedish school systems underwent an overhaul very recently, and that’s when these policies were enacted. Lotta’s opinion seems to be that the Swedish schools used to be too strict, but have gone too far the opposite way with these reforms. I get the impression she’d be happy with a middle-of-the-road approach.
School in General
Ok, all that being said, I want you to know that I LOVE my students. They’re awesome. I don’t know how to describe it without talking about specific students, but since they’re under 18, I can’t do that. So…I’ll just leave you hanging on that one.
But really, I love my students. They’re the bomb dot com.
As much as (or perhaps because) I love them so much, I am always exhausted at the end of the day. My days are fun, but I’m learning that teaching is definitely an endurance sport. It is no easy task to stand in front of a room full of people all day, every day and ask them to be excited about the material. I’ve found that the students usually respond to my sometimes comical (but always earnest) enthusiasm, so I spend all day every day being really excited about most things. Excitement is exhausting. I wonder if it’ll wear off and I’ll slowly become one of those teachers who you can tell is interested in the subject but doesn’t care to teach it anymore. I sincerely hope not.
I have a stupid bum knee right now. My IT band is being a lame-o so my runs have either been really short (like, 1-2 miles) or just haven’t been happening. I’m still registered for the marathon but as of right now, I’m only a hopeful participant (not a definite participant). I’ve been doing all this research and all these crazy stretches and strength exercises, I’m just hoping they help enough that I can go on a slow, long run this weekend. Also, Lotta said one of the hockey trainers at Ungstedtska owed her a favor, so she called it in for me. He looked at my knee and gave me a loaner brace (I read mixed reviews about braces re: IT band problems, so I didn’t get one) and some more exercises and IT band massages to do, so we’ll see how this goes. I’ve also been rolling my band on a makeshift roller (I hijacked one of the rolling pins). It’s a lot of effort and I’m hoping and praying that it’ll pay off. Four months is a lot of time to invest in a training regimen to not be able to put it to use!
Plus, Dad offered a monetary reward if I cross the finish in a truly dramatic way. (his idea is to do the worm. We’ll see.) I think he just wants to be entertained.
Only 27 Days Left! EEK!
Yesterday was the 10-week marker! That is a long time to have been here. I have less than 4 weeks left (only 1 day less, but still) and only two of those weeks are at school. I can’t believe the end of my time here is closing in on me.
For reference’s sake, when the numbers were flipped (27 days here, 71 left), I was in the middle of my last week at Tornhagsskolan with Ann-Sofi. That feels like yesterday, but it was a while ago.
Maybe we’ll all get lucky and things will liven up for a more exciting blog post next time!