Entering the workforce

26 January 2013

Guess what, you guys! For the first time, somebody besides the government in Sweden wants to give me money! And not just because I reproduced, but in exchange for labor! That’s right: I got a job!

Career-wise it’s a bit of a step down from researcher and university instructor to substitute teacher at a middle school, but it feels like an accomplishment nonetheless. However, I’ve never taught middle schoolers before, and from what I recall, early adolescence is a tough age for those going through it, and those around them. Like their subs.

Wish me luck! Or even better: give me tips!


16 Responses to “Entering the workforce”

  1. Carrie Says:

    Good luck! My best advice: have a great sense of humor and go with the flow.

  2. portlairge Says:

    The kids will be so impressed with their American teacher. You”ll be great!

    • antropologa Says:

      Thanks! But no, they won’t. It’s an English-speaking school and most of the teachers are from English-speaking countries. I will not be exotic. :(


  3. Kristina Says:

    My advice: have a strong, full curriculum planned and have backup exercises/activities if you have extra time or if something isn’t working. Make it fun/like a game when you can and give prizes. :)

  4. christy Says:

    On the phone I gave you advice for 4th graders. I have no idea how to handle middle school kids. They scare me. Good luck buddy!

  5. a Says:

    Congratulations! I hope you enjoy the job – middle schoolers are tough. I think you’re up to the challenge, though.

  6. Youma Says:

    Great news, I expect daily updates! :)

  7. Melissa Says:

    I have no advice whatsoever, but congratulations! Good luck, although I don’t think you need it. You have a no-nonsense approach to life that I think will translate well to working with middle schoolers. :)

  8. Sara Says:

    My assvice is to do your best, treat the kids with a bit more respect than they show themselves, and then try not to stress about what happens. Congratulations! Your skills are in demand, even in Sweden! That rocks!

    (And FWIW, I’m a university professor and don’t think that teaching middle school is a step down at all. In a lot of ways, your job is more important than mine, in that there is almost nothing that I can do to make up for what junior high and high school teachers didn’t do. Definitely a lateral move at least.)

  9. Alyssa Says:

    Oh boy. I teach 4th grade and that’s where they start to ‘turn’ so to speak. Advice…hmmm.. over plan, then the kids will always be busy. Walk amongst them as they work because this is when they try to slack off. Have clear, specific rules and procedures that you announce in a very firm teacher voice. One technique that works well is this: I use these two words – RESPECT & RESPONSIBILITY. If they kids are naughty and not listening, etc then I say I’m putting up responsibility letters, usually 2 or 3 at time depending. If they spell that whole word there’s extra homework – assign this essay to be given to the regular teacher – 3 paragraphs: what we did; what we should’ve done and what we will do next time we have a sub. If the behavior is good and what you want put up letters for the word respect. If you spell that out by the end of the day/class then give them some kind of reward – perhaps a note of exceptional praise to the regular teacher requesting extra credit for them or bring a bag of candy. And finally… May the force be with you…

  10. megalagom Says:

    What great news!! Congrats – it might not be what you were looking for but its a step in the right direction and a great start!! You will do great, it might turn out to be something you love!

  11. Mina Says:

    I taught high school students, and this is what I can tell you from what I experienced:
    – never go unprepared, thinking that you can wing it.
    – teenagers are like dogs, they smell fear. Wear perfume.
    – treat them like adults, but don’t expect them to be adults. they do want to be respected though, and are not as much as they would like to.
    – be honest, not over friendly and since they are adult toddlers, pick your battles carefully :-)
    You will be fine. I wish you good luck and hope you will enjoy your new job. I have fond memories of those times, and just like with anything else, as long as you like what you do, it is worth the time.

  12. Rebecca Says:

    Wow, our Swedish lives continue to follow a similar path….I’ve also been working as a substitute teacher since September but it’s in a F-5 Swedish school. Maybe you won’t see such a cultural difference at the English school but I’ve found it tricky to keep the classrooms under control in a way that seems culturally acceptable here. I prefer to calmly explain the rules and boundaries and then swiftly implement some sort of consequence (similar to what Alyssa wrote above) for disrespecting the classroom. I also try to give lots of positive encouragement and opportunities to reward good behavior with fun activities. Many of the Swedish teachers I’ve seen seem to spend a lot of time nagging, pleading, and yelling at the kids without there being any real reason for the kids to listen to them.

    When I talked to the teachers and asked for advice, some of them seemed very worried about any sort of singling out of students in front of the rest of the class because it would be “obehaglig” for them. Anyway, hopefully that won’t be the case for you…I’ve heard that the English school near us has much clearer rules and boundaries compared with the Swedish schools.

    Some extra activities that always go over well when I need a time filler are hangman, madlibs, pictionary, charades, and alphabet races (two teams of kids race to write a word for each letter of the alphabet). And don’t be afraid to veer away from the daily plan if the class seems really interested in a particular topic…once a student asked me where I grew up in the US and that led to a fantastic hour of playing with Google Earth and showing them all the strange places I’ve lived.

    Good luck! Oh yeah, and if your students have iPads you have to be extra diligent to make sure they’re not texting and Skyping each other all the time ;)

  13. thellfamily Says:

    Congratulations! Very exciting. Middle schoolers scare me a bit, but I’m sure you will be great. I agree with all of the other commenters that you need to maintain order and respect early on.

  14. Alexis Says:

    Congrats!! No advice unfortunately.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Congrats! Looks like you got some good advice already, best of luck! And great timing!

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