As I sit here halfway into our 9 hour flight back home to Fort Worth, I am overwhelmed with a number of different emotions. This past month has been a whirlwind of excitement, challenges, learning, and exploring that I would not trade for anything. I am humbled by the opportunity to travel so many countries and go on so many adventures at just 23 years old. This experience abroad has taught me a number of lessons about independence, cultural awareness, improving my teaching, and the many opportunities that surround us in this big beautiful world. If someone had told me a year ago that I would spend a month teaching at an International School in Gothenburg, Sweden, I probably would have found it to be a very funny joke. However, now I sit here heading home from an incredible journey, feeling so very thankful for this experience.
My last week at ISGR included the special opportunity to work and teach in a beginner EAL class for 1 hour each morning, plan and execute math lessons for my grade 1 class, contribute to team planning with the other grade 1 teachers, participate in fika (yum), and continue building relationships with the sweet kids of 1E. The students of 1E truly made an incredible impact on me, and will never be forgotten along with the many things they taught me. 1E was comprised of students that came from an extremely wide variety of backgrounds, including one student who had never formally attended school before. I believe that working with students from such a wide variety of backgrounds has helped me to become a more aware and well-rounded future educator. I learned more about differentiation, the importance of getting to know your students, IB learning, and how to say “goodbye” in each language that the children of 1E spoke.
One of my favorite traditions that the students and I started was each day they would teach me how to say goodbye, or a similar phrase in their first language. After lunch as they got dressed in their snow gear, they would come to ask me if they could be dismissed to the schoolyard. Each student would then teach me how to say a phrase in their native language. This fun routine began with one young boy who would say goodbye in German, and then began a class-wide activity. Although I loved learning the new phrases, my favorite part of this routine was showing the students that they could teach me things too. They loved teaching me all about the things they knew, and I loved learning from them. I know that I will greatly miss hearing the 18 different languages each day after lunch.
Although I don’t think I will ever be able to forget Hannah, her assistant Mohini, and the students of 1E, they sent me home with a sweet reminder of Sweden and my special time spent at ISGR. The students picked out a piece of Swedish children’s literature translated into english written by the creator of Pippi Longstocking. I cannot wait to add this book to my future classroom library, and be able to share about my sweet experience as ISGR with my future students when they read the book.
A very special thank you to Hannah, my awesome mentor teacher who even in such a short period of time, taught me an incredible amount. Thank you for believing in me, challenging me, encouraging me, and making me feel a part of your classroom community.
Thanks 1E for one of the most special experiences I have ever had and all you taught me!