first term at strandskolan done!

18 12 2014

I lie on the couch as I update the blog tonight, remembering the exhaustion every committed teacher feels at the end of a school term.  After being out of school classrooms for quite a few years, it has taken a lot of energy to get used to teaching again.  Add to that new country, new language, new weather systems and all that entails for car use, house living and dressing… phew.  I realise that God was faithful through each day, and how faithful He is.  I am glad for a bit of a break, if for nothing else but to process all that we have lived through this last 4 or so months. 

Arrival Sweden, Vilhelmina 643

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That spot where the strange faces drew with chalk in August is now covered in thick snow and ice.  And those strange faces have already become so dear to me!  Working through a few tantrums, getting to know what each student’s strengths are, laughing a lot… these have already become precious treasures in my heart.  There are a few moments that are valuable beyond belief.  The hugs from one special boy that wrap arms around my body and wrap love around my heart.  The discussions with a most precious boy, who says ‘best tehatcer in the world its you so be proud’.  The halogen-type smiles of the girls who were singing on Saturday night at a town concert when they saw us in the audience.  These moments build relationship, and sink barbs of love deeper and deeper into my heart.  I am hooked. 

There is no doubt at all that I have been learning.  Every day. All day.  I have been learning bits of the language, and have tried to learn how to communicate when there is no shared language between people.  I have learned that the strict rules and discipline systems we are so used to in SA would at times be wonderful here, but there is no way to judge a book by its cover.  15 year old boys with beards, long hair, girls with pink hair and loads of nail polish:  it is not worth all the drama to control appearances when you have the time to work on the heart. 

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And that kids love to be creative in unusual ways.  Playing with blu-tack/ prestik  (which is a great way to keep ADHD kids occupied in lessons) can produce masterpieces.

You can moan at kids and express complete dissatisfaction at behaviour with only 4 words of Swedish.  (Din attitud är dåhlig). Repeated a few times with stern teacher eyes does get the message across.

Hugs and high fives work in any language.

Teacher eyes work in any language.

American television and computer games can be to English teachers’ benefit.

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Ice is a great place to play.

This last week has seen some really creative activities.  The högstadiet, or high stage (grades 7 to 9) have been making godishus, or candy houses. 

There were some amazingly creative houses.

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The range of ideas was amazing.  Castles, Tolkien inspired, working windmills… amazing.  The Norrland influence was obvious: the outhouse, hot tub and sauna were well presented.  And the centre of all Norrland boys’ spare time:

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This really well crafted snowmobile. 

And there was the obvious fun with candy…

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We had a special concert at the local State church, with singing and a bit of dancing.  Deon, the brave and bold, recorded the whole school’s Christmas songs for a CD recording.  It was all quite fun for the kids!

My last art lesson was held out in about –8 Celcius.  With coloured water, spray bottles and snow angels.

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This was just a short distance away from where I began the term, on my knees, chalking the sidewalks with the kids.  Just a few months has changed so much.

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Most of all that we can stand together in recognition of common value, where I see the precious hearts of these diamonds in the rough. 

But a diamond in the rough is a diamond sure enough. 

(Which is true for absolutely all of us).




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