Back to School Diary of a Teacher in Sweden

The following diary entry comes from Malin Liss a Teacher from Sweden as part of our Back to School Series.

Finally, back to normal, or…?

Summer is now a thing of the past even if the sun is still shining, sometimes, even keeping us warm in the north of Europe. June and July offered us beautiful summer days but went by very fast, as they always seem to do. With autumn comes another school year and an enthusiastic group of teachers and pupils arrive at school, most of them suntanned and full of energy.

After last year’s distance teaching, we are very happy to meet up with each other in real life, I am happy to see my colleagues as well as my students’ faces, this time for real and not behind the screen. I wonder what it has done to us, being apart like we were. What I do know is that I am happier than ever having the chance to meet and see my teacher friends (but with distance of course).

We value each other’s company much more now and, in my opinion, a lonely teacher is not a good teacher. I need my colleagues to collaborate with, share my worries and happy thoughts with and I believe teaching is teamwork. We are better when we work together.

That said I worry a little bit about what the future holds for us.

When the Pandemic Hit

Some of our students enjoyed studying at home and found it easier to focus and get things done, others missed their friends and lost the feeling of belonging to a group and the connection to the rest of the society that school gives.

On the positive side, we had more students with us during the distance weeks than others, since students who don’t come to school but stay at home now attended the lessons online. This is something we need to remember and investigate more, how can we learn from this time and make the school day better for the children who stay home and don’t attend school?

Right now, we are all back in school. It is however a very uncertain time, and we are just waiting for the moment when we will be told that the schools will be shut down again. Living in that uncertainty is frustrating and that was the hardest part last year I believe, the constant changes and flexibility that was demanded from us.

It made us tired and stressed and some of the teachers at our school had to go on sick leave due to the mental stress it entailed. We are teachers and we all have the superpowers required for the job, but we are also only humans, and this was too much even for us. So,what can we do to make it work and make it through this pandemic? Since it is not possible to predict the future there is no way to know what is going to happen. We shouldn’t assume the worst, instead keep going and hope for the best. We need to keep being positive and help each other, if we worry too much, the students will too.

I work at a secondary school in Sweden. I teach English and Spanish and have worked as a teacher for 15 years. I love my job and I find it both exciting and challenging, you never know what’s going to happen the next day.

This is something I enjoy but, how could we have been prepared for a pandemic and all that came with it?

Last year, in our school we had the students here every other week during winter and spring, that way we could spread out and keep distance.

We also had several buildings to work in which also gave us the possibility to work with them in schooland not at home all the time. There were different opinions about this.

Looking forward into the Future

If the day comes when we must work from home again then we will be fine. We have the experience and tools so we can do it all again. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and now we are so much stronger than before. As I wrote earlier, teachers who stick together and support and help each other are better teachers and of we do that I believe we can climb the highest mountain and create wonders even in the most confusing and uncertain times. My message to you all is to take care of your colleagues, don’t take them for granted, be a friend and stay positive and supportive. With that said, at the top of my wish list is some peace and quiet and the opportunity to keep doing our job in the classroom.

Author: Malin Liss

English & Spanish Teacher, Sweden

Malin Liss is a teacher at a Swedish secondary school who will share her school’s experience of remaining open during COVID-19 pandemic

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