Celebrating my first holiday as a teacher, wohoo! After these rather hectic weeks in Stockholm, sportlov (winter break) had the best possible timing. To have some time to breathe and reset my mind was very much needed. Also, it is finally the time to start writing this blog! A lot has happened since I came to Stockholm two months ago. You may read the intro to get the general idea of this blog and my background. However, I will begin by telling you how I started my career as a teacher abroad.
I was very much honoured when I got the job offer from the middle school vice-principal of the very same school where I was about to start the last internship of my training. In his email, the vice-principal encouraged me to apply for a maternity leave substitute teacher’s position. At that point, the duration of the substitution wasn’t confirmed but I understood it was a chance I shouldn’t miss. I have always wanted to work abroad as a teacher but I never could have thought I’d start with that!
Things started rolling quickly. Firstly, I got the job which meant I needed to find my way through the red tape jungle of the Swedish authorities. For those who are generally interested in moving to Sweden and working there, I will later write more about my experiences with the paperwork. Secondly, I had my first salary negotiation. Nowadays in Sweden teachers have to negotiate their salaries according to experience and skills. Also more about that a bit later.
While still completing the last week of my internship at the secondary school, I was orientated for the new job as a middle school classroom teacher. Those days were filled with a lot of practical information. Learning about my new tasks and of course getting to know my new students and coworkers were the main things to focus on. I remember my mind being so overloaded that when I tried to do grocery shopping after work, I couldn’t think of any ingredients I would need for cooking. For example, müsli+yogurt was simple enough to make after a day at work.
Since I jump into the role of a teacher in the middle of a period, I had to do plenty of research about what the students had done before and what kinds of methods the teacher had used. Fortunately, the permanent teacher has been extremely helpful and a good mentor to me. I can highly recommend applying for maternity leave substitutions as your first teaching job after training because the permanent teacher is then, at least in the beginning, available to give you orientation. On the other hand, it is also challenging to learn the other teacher’s methods when you have already been practising your own way of doing things. However, I wanted to make the change of teacher as easy as possible for the pupils, too, by continuing the same routines that they had had before. On the first day as the teacher, I made a deal with the children that as much as I’m their teacher they must teach me about their routines and school life. I was lucky to get many enthusiastic experts to tutor me!