Weather Goddesses and Little People
Reflections on spring & relief teaching, and some book recommendations
As I sit and type these words, the sky has just gone a dark indigo colour at 9pm. We moved our clocks forward an hour to Central European Summer Time. Apparently, summer is coming. Tell that to the weather Gods and Goddesses!
The weather here in the Nordic region is, as usual, unpredictable. We’ve had Second Winter, the Spring of Deception, and Third Winter, so I’m really hoping that spring will actually keep up its end of the bargain and appear sometime soon. Fingers crossed!
This past weekend we’ve had it all - glorious sun, grey skies, wind, and rain. Thankfully, no snow. “It’s the time of year,” they all tell me. “It might still snow, you know,” they say, looking at me seriously, with sad eyes because they know I come from climes they have no experience of.
“But I’ve lived in Melbourne!” I say. “Four seasons in one day!” But they don’t know what I’m talking about and can’t imagine a place where the temperature can drop 20 degrees in half an hour, from a balmy 35 degrees Celcius to hail, rain, gale-force winds.
I chuckle, then head to the couch on our glassed-in balcony. They wonder why my face is brown…
Such is life here right now. Not much to do, but read books and brew beer (I do the beer brewing vicariously and the beer-drinking IRL). ‘That-which-shall-not-be-named’ (and no, it’s not Voldemort), has turned life into a page-turner. And by that I mean, all-day book reading. Except…well, I’ve been going to work.
Unlike many people here and around the world who are working from home, or not working because their workplace is shut or they’ve lost their job (that happened to me last year), I get up every day and go to school. To my teaching job.
It’s strange, really. I have to remind myself the whole town I live in is basically shut down. The hotel over the road is a reminder when I’m not at work. My partner gets dressed in the morning and walks into the spare room/study. His version of “going to work.” I get on my bike and ride about 10 minutes and spend half the day with a class of kids. Seventeen of them to be exact.
In my ‘previous life,’ before I moved to this Nordic idyll, I taught things like Shakespeare, essay writing, text analysis, poetry, creative writing, History, Sociology. To older teens. Now. Well, let’s just say, the teaching here has been varied and I’m currently teaching Year 1.
To anyone who knows me, they’re probably laughing hysterically at the thought of me wrangling a group of 7-year-olds. The only reason I can write this right now and not weep is that I know I only have 3 days left. Three days to go out of a total of 22!!
The thing about being a relief teacher is you know the kids are going to be a bit ratty because you’re different. You’re not the usual teacher. And kids love routine. Or they might try to trick you because they think you’re an idiot. Or they ignore you (hello, teenagers). The best is when they’ve had you before and they cheer! I’ve never quite worked out why that is but it does make me smile. The joyous moments are few and far between.
What I have realised, these past few weeks, is that to have a group of very small people is to give constant reminders. To go to the toilet, to sit down, to not yell out things, of routines, how to form letters and numbers with a pencil, how to hold a pencil, not to stick a pencil in your nose, and don’t mindlessly play with scissors. A reminder of what lesson we’re about to have, what we’re currently doing, to not to hit each other, to focus, to listen.
I’m a reminderer!! (I’ve invented a new word!)
I take my hat off to teachers who choose to teach the little people. They deserve more money. They deserve more holidays. It’s exhausting, and it will take me about a month to not flinch when I hear my name. (Do you know how many times I heard my name in the last art lesson? It was at least 30 times…*insert tired sob*)
So, three days to go.
And despite the fact I’m looking forward to it, I will also be a bit sad because they’re also pretty awesome little humans. They’re funny, silly, caring, energetic, enthusiastic, clever. They are patient with my reading aloud of a Swedish book, happily correct me when I say the wrong thing, draw me lovely little cards and pictures, tell me funny stories, hold my hand when I’m on yeard duty. I am glad that the rest of their Year 1 experience will be passed into the hands of someone who has chosen this year level to teach - I don’t know that I want that level of responsibility for their development!
Perhaps when they’re ready for Shakespeare, we’ll meet again.
What on Earth Could Go Wrong? by Richard Fenning is a wonderful memoir showing the reader a little taste of the world of risk management. Fenning has been to places most of us would never volunteer to go and has met people the likes of which we thought existed in movies or fiction. He now shares his insightful and often witty take on humanity and aspects of it most of us won’t get to see. I laughed out loud many times throughout reading this book, but I also pondered the geopolitical climate, the impact of the pandemic, and marvelled at a planet so diverse in culture and climate yet at the core, as humans, we all have the need for similar things. I highly recommend reading this newly published book.
The Gift by Dr Edith Eger. Again, an amazing book and I’m still reading it because it’s also a workbook and I feel I need to take my time with each chapter to do its message justice. Listen to her interview with Brené Brown too.
New Beliefs, New Brain by Lisa Wimberger - this is a wonderful companion read to The Body Keeps the Score. Practical, enlightening, potentially life-changing.
The Overstory by Richard Powers - a wonderfully written, complex, and magical story which will make you want to save all forests, everywhere. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize the same year. It’s beautiful.
Bordertown (or Sorjonen if you live in Finland) is a Finnish crime series. Nordic Noir at its finest. The main character, played by Ville Virtanen, is brilliant. They don’t always get it ‘right’ every episode, but the characters are excellent, the scenery pretty epic, and the interiors of all the houses are also pretty awesome (think cool Finnish design). I’m glad I only see the Finnish title because there’s a Bordertown in South Australia and it’s not as lovely as this area, I can tell you!
Brave New World: loosely based on Aldous Huxley’s novel, this is a well-made series that’s worth watching despite only being one season (it was cancelled - what a shame!) But worth watching as it finishes well.
What I’ve been writing:
The Water Has My Back (a poem)
When The Sun Goes Down (a poem and photos)
Click on the links to my poetry and other ponderings. Let me know what you’re reading, what you recommend - hit the button below, drop a comment in the comment box, or press reply! I’d love to hear from you.
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