Two days in and I can easily say this is going to be one of the most exhausting yet completely wonderful journeys I will ever take. Travel can be hectic but Chandler, KayLeigh and I's journey to Malmö was a breeze. We made it through two planes, a train, and a walk through the city only slightly sleep deprived and without loosing any of our luggage (we consider the moment when the final suitcase came up the carousel at the Copenhagen airport to be our first big European success). After a quick dinner at a tapas restaurant the first night we settled into our hostel, which we have decided to call Camp Malmö. Even after our short exploration of the city, we could already tell that Malmö is going to be the perfect place to call home for the next month.
When my alarm clock buzzed on Monday morning I was a bundle of excitement and nerves. We had no idea what to expect when we walked into the school. Malmö International School (MIS) is and International Baccalaureate (IB) school which is a worldwide program that educates children on how to think critically and learn to contribute to the world around them (that's the short version anyways). MIS is home to a Primary Years Program (PYP) and a Middle Years Program (similar to elementary and middle school back in the United States) and hundreds of students who come from all over the world. It is a school unlike any I have ever been in before. Each student speaks English, at least a little Swedish, and for the most part another language at home ranging from Hindi to Dutch to Arabic. We were greeted by the principal who told us a little about the programs, gave us keys to the school, and walked us to our classrooms. I was the last to be dropped off because I am with the oldest group of children out of the three of us. When the principal opened the door, I was immediately greeted with "Hailey! Hailey! Hailey! You're here! Hi Hailey!" and I could already tell this was going to be one wild ride.
I am in the PYP5A class which means my students are in their 5th year of school but are around the same age as 4th graders in the United States. This was perfect since I am in a 4th grade class back in Aledo, I felt like I was right at home! My teachers name is Hayley which is funny because students at MIS call their teachers by their first names. It really is double trouble in the Hailey department up in 5A! The students have started calling us "Hayley with a Y" and "Hailey with an I" because of course our last names begin with the same initial as well (what are the chances!?). When I came in the students were in the middle of doing math stations where they were working on fraction concepts. I jumped right in to help wherever I could. Shortly after I arrived it was time for the students first break of the day. They get two thirty minute breaks per day. If my kiddos back at Coder ever find out about that, I am sure there will be some outrage as that is double the recess they get each day. Lunch begins over an hour earlier than my lunchtime back in Texas (YAY!) and the teachers eat the school prepared meal with the students. There aren't choices for lunch, every day all of the students and teachers eat the same meal. Monday was vegetarian tacos and Tuesday was broccoli soup. The students have to clear their plate before they can enjoy the dessert which is a cracker (crisp) and butter. The rest of the day ran smoothly and I even got to read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas aloud to the class. They were amazed that I had read it before but hadn't seen the movie! After school we explored Malmö and ate dinner at a fun dining hall type place that was recommended to me by the other year 5 teacher. Once we had indulged in some delicious pizza, we called it a night and headed back to Camp Malmö.
Tuesday unfortunately brought a familiar taste of school in the U.S. as students and teachers began to drop like flies with some sort of stomach bug. Both year 5 teachers were not feeling well all day. I helped Hayley by teaching the math lesson on fractions that morning. By lunch Mitch, the PYP5B teacher, was down for the count and left for the day which left me in charge of his classroom. This was challenging but so incredibly rewarding. I had no plans for the afternoon and didn't have any idea what I would be teaching until I walked in with all of the students staring at me waiting eagerly to learn. I ended up reading some of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas to them and discussing what happens when Bruno and Shmuel first meet at the fence. If you have never read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, I would highly recommend it. After that I went over a powerpoint about the Bechdel test. This is a test created by Alison Bechdel that is used to discuss whether movies and books have more than two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a male character. This related back the their overall unit for this six weeks which is prejudice and discrimination and sparked a lively discussion about women and men's roles in both fiction and film. I learned that when it comes to teaching, in Sweden and the United States, you should always expect the unexpected. I never anticipated being in charge of a class alone on my second day here but I am thankful I got the experience. Mitch's class headed to Swedish and I went with Hayley's class to PE. During PE they did an obstacle course challenge. It was so fun to watch and amazing to see some of the activities it involved. I feel like these activities wouldn't be allowed in many PE classes in the U.S. like swinging on rings through a series of high mats and navigating through a spider web/balance beam combination. I wish I had my tennis shoes with me so I could have participated with them!
If you have made it to the end of this post then I promise the next one won't be as long! There is just so much to share it's hard to choose. Thanks for following along and I can't wait to share the next update on my adventures with you all!