Five hundredth åsic- To choose or not to choose is the question, #Femhundrade åseriet

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When I was in NJ a couple of years ago I noticed that I am not very good at choosing and find myself ambivalent and indecisive, If there are a lot of options. At least when it comes to choosing food from a menu… 😀

I wonder if I possibly have inherited this from my daughter? We are just the same when we are in a situation of choice. If we get stuck, we do however have different solutions to our problem. My daughter would most likely go for a choice similar to some of her friends, and thus avoid the risk of feeling her own choice was in any way bad. I, myself, on the other hand, sometimes want to follow the stream, not be the one to be a nuisance to others. SO although we both may do as others do, we seem to do so for completely different reasons. We also both tend to pick ”both” when it may be difficult to pick ”either…or”…

One of my friends have decided for herself to give herself a kind of punishment if she cannot make a decision when she is picking something for her (fika)coffee. If she cannot make up her mind about what nice pastry to choose, she simply says: ”En kanelbulle, tack!” (A cinnamon bun, please!). I remember many different situations when this friend and I have lined up to buy a cup of coffee and she and I both try hard to make a decision, but when it’s our turn at the check-out, we realize that it’s impossible… Luckily a cinnamon bun is a great treat along with a cup of coffee!

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But…what if my reluctance to make a choice is the very reason why I find it so difficult to be decisive in my classroom, too? The Swedish School System allows a lot of democratic processes for students to be involved in. We are supposed to engage our students in decision-making and students have a right to make an impact and be active in evaluating their school situation from many different perspectives. I don’t mind that situation at all… In fact I enjoy being interactive with my students in order to develop the learning process from year to year. Having said that, I also notice that Swedish students tend to be used to this collaboration with their teachers and they are also interested in sharing their opinion, suggest possible improvements to instruction or lessons, but my current students from different parts of the world seem more or less new to the idea of sharing their ideas and views.

I remember a lesson I had planned for a group of SVA3, where the students were all supposed to act and also to reveal a certain personality in a dialogue with friends. I had hoped for the group to pick a card with a personality and then ”go for it”, but obviously they were all worried about the situation and thought it was a better idea if I handed out the cards and thus made the choice more of a ”random” situation. After the activity I asked the students why they didn’t want to take part in the process of choice and they all said that they thought it was scary and unusual to decide for themselves in a school situation. It didn’t matter that they were all adults. They were all facing their old school situations where teachers make decisions and students do as they are told.

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Is there a difference between situations where one wants to choose or not? I don’t know if that would be universal, but I think from my point of view that when the decision is important to me FOR REAL, then I don’t give away my chance to choose voluntarily, but if there is no real and deep meaning to me personally, then I don’t mind letting someone else pick a choice of their taste. That is also why I completely trusted my friends when we decided what food to buy when I was in the US a couple of years ago. I trusted their taste and I didn’t want to be a pain…so instead of making a decision they wouldn’t appreciate, I’d rather let them choose. I guess we are all different. I notice that I am a person with a ”decision disorder” 😀

So… To choose or not to choose, will also in the future be the most important question, in every situation there is.

This is my 500th blogpost! Thanks for reading! ❤

 

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Four hundred and ninetyeighth Asic- Sunshine in November Makes Me Jump!

November has been going on for weeks, almost YEARS now… or at least ten days…but today it happened and I noticed! The sun managed its way through to us! I could almost pretend that it wasn’t November…! What a joyful moment! I’m happy! I think sunshine is nice whenever… but in November it’s like an award of some sort! I wake up when it’s dark, go to work when it’s dark…spend my day indoors and when it’s about time to leave for home again, it’s dark…! I know this is not the case all over the globe in November… 🙂 But here in Sweden where I live…!

I remember another year when the sun came out in November. I was not in my classroom, although none of my students would have frowned for a sunshine jump, but in the staff room. My reward  for my ”sunshine jump” was a lovely laughter from the two of my teaching friends who were in the staff room at the time. They were happy, too! We had all forgotten what the sun looked like and were SO happy for the unexpectedly bright sunshine for being this time of the year. I often notice in my classroom, with students from all over the world, that November is a challenge, especially to those who are used to bright sunshine all year through. I try to remind them of the importance of a walk or at least some well spent time outdoors, to get some daylight. I also tell them they may need Vitamin D…

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It is however not just sunshine that makes ME happy. I also look at the stars in the sky for relaxing purposes and this time of the year I search the sky for Orion and think of a friend I know who will search the sky for Orion, too. Sharing a quiet moment wide apart is a way of connecting despite long distance.

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Four hundred and ninety fourth åsic- The Yellow Wall and The Blue Wallpaper

I used to teach in another classroom a couple of years ago. When I started off teaching there, I had an opportunity to decide for myself what the classroom would look like. I think that is one of the reasons that I liked it there. When moving out , I removed all the details because I wanted to give the new teachers the same opportunity to do whatever they wanted to make the classroom feel like ”theirs”.

This is something I wrote when I was still teaching in my old room: 

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is an American short story read  by many, but how many of the readers have spent a fortnight of pure creative language learning in a yellow classroom ? The teacher had painted her classroom herself and turned the dark dull room in the basement into a positive oasis for learning. All walls were painted in a bright yellow colour. Her combination of gifts from previous students, her own creations or things she had got here and there, together with wisdom on little plaques or instruction posters with different themes like weekdays, phrases or words for certain occasions, gave the impression of a nice and welcoming place where the soul of learning was more important than anything else. Soul in English almost sounds like sun in Swedish, sol.

My classroom is not painted by me and it is not yellow either, but I have hanged The Blue Wallpaper myself and I have added a lot of blue accents, such as glass, fabric or decorations. Blue is my fave color and it also lead my thoughts to water or to a realxing feeling that makes me calm. In one of the corners of my room I have a waterdoor… In another corner are verbs connected to language use. The many hearts on the window to our pentry is decorated with thoughs or words on the theme LOVE. I think my students are important in many ways. I also find their background, culture and languages important. I think it is necessary for a classroom where languages are taught, that you actually can see that we speak different languages. All those languages are important. Knowing several languages is a true wisdom!

BLÅTT och GULT

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The teacher I visited in NJ, USA was teaching about weather expressions in Spanish when I was there and both the students and herself were happy… and yellow is the happy color that perfectly suits a classroom for Spanish lessons. A saying by an ”unknown” author that suits the yellow classroom very well:

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow

Four hundred and ninety third åsic- Uppe med tuppen!- Being an early bird!

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I have noticed that one good thing with travelling across time zones is that there is a good chance to change bad habits! 😀

I agree completely with the Swedish saying ”Morgonstund har guld i mund”

Generally I do get up in the morning and start my day, but I’m not really awake…Here, six hours after my regular time zone, I have decided to get up whenever I feel alert, although it’s not ”six o’clock” as usual… Today the hour I woke up was 5.30 and I didn’t mind!

 

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Yesterday night when I accidently woke up in the middle of the night, I got a snapchat from one of my daughters. I replied…although I was tired, saying ”it’s in the middle of the night!” HER snapchat was a very alert and neat pic of herself and her friend singing and playing the guitar at school and I thought: ”Oh, NO! Not NOW! I’m TIRED!” …but it also made me aware of the wonder of TIME.

I’d say TIME is a phenomenon human beings invented. My host HERE would say ”We (the AMERICANS) invented time!” … And honestly, since time flies, I don’t have time to do my homework and find out for real who ”invented” what we all refer to as time.

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I do however enjoy the many aspects of time that make a life worth living. What if we never had any sunsets? What if you couldn’t wake up an early morning in late May in Sweden and have a cup of coffee outdoors while letting the sun warm your face. What if you couldn’t catch a flight to the USA and try to leave the sunrise behind you? There is however one thing I don’t appreciate about the way WE adjust to time. I understand why we all need to do the daylights saving change of time but having said that, I must admit I’m probably the most tired person on earth when we change all our clocks in the spring. I am probably also the luckiest person next weekend when I get my reward for struggling every morning for several months. Kronblom might be TOO lazy, but he is for sure the character I think of, connected to the words ”lazy” or ”relax”.

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Here, during my visit in NJ, I have noticed that I do have a serious chance to give myself the treat of feeling alert at five in the morning! That’s amazing and I love the calm and relaxed morning I get in return for getting up early.

The lunch break in Sweden is up, but here we haven’t yet started our day. When I get back from school this evening, my Swedish friends will be on their way to bed… I can now see why there is a slight problem finding decent hours to chat online with a person from another part of the world. Being here is being ”right in the middle of things” when it’s a decent hour on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean… I’d better keep that in mind when I get back home to Sweden again! It has been said many times in Latin, not quite as many in Swedish, but it is an important thing to remember:

Fånga dagen! 

Four Hundred and Eightysixth Asic- My New Favourite Tree

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For a couple of weeks I once had the opportunity to experience a very mild and nice autumn in Pitman, NJ. One of the days we had +28C which is not at all like the temperature for September or October in Sweden. In my 485th åsic,

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I wrote about the maples in Sweden and how I used to collect the colourful leaves in the autumn. I have always loved trees and since I live in a part of Sweden where forests are a part of the nice scenery, I always find a walk in the forest very soothing if I need to relax or find new energy. I walked along nice streets in Pitman, where mainly tall maples and oaks give gardens their share of fallen leaves. One kind of tree was unfamiliar to me, but I could tell from what it looked like that it had to be a maple or an oak, so I picked up a leaf and brought it with me to #Pitman Middle School, where I asked everyone I met: ”Is this a maple or an oak?”. Most people said: ”I don’t know but I think it is…” and then two people very quickly said: ”It’s an oak, no doubt!” Now I KNOW it is an oak, since I have done what most people do nowadays… I googled it… It turned out to be a red oak.

The fallen red oak leaves has the same SOUND as the fallen Swedish maple leaves when you walk through them… Another day I took a shortcut home and ended up very far away from home in an empty yard…learning that just as ”genvägar är senvägar” , shortcuts tend to be longcuts…

One good thing by taking the ”shortcut” was that I had to walk on a narrow path in a little forest, passing a railroad to get back home. The fallen leaves in a thick layer sounded like the maple leaves from my childhood and around me both squirrels and chipmunks ran about. I knew I was very close to houses, but the trees and animals made me fly away in thoughts for a while. The beauty of coloured leaves is still the same, no matter where I am. It gives me a feeling of gratefulness to see all the colours, hear the dry sound of the leaves as I walk through them. The sunrays hardly pass through to the ground and there are merely dark soil and old leaves for the squirrels to run about in. In its lack of colours, the ground already seems ready to meet the winter. In my lack of inner compass, I also seemed ready to meet the winter… Luckily I made a correct guess and soon found my way back to Broadway again…

Four Hundred and Eighty-Third Asic- 9/11 in Retrospective

Sixteen years ago I was on maternity leave with my youngest daughter. I spent my days breastfeeding… at least so it seems in a retrospective. My daughter was the kind of baby that you cannot really feed enough, so I found myself watching all the available soap operas… There was however one afternoon (…but it was MORNING in the USA…) that was not at all like the rest. In Sweden where I live, like in most other countries, we have the tradition of ”breaking news” if something extraordinary happens. I remember the 9th of September 2001 exactly like that. I was actually watching an extra news alert with the footage of the first Tower of WTC burning when there, right then, the second tower was hit. The Swedish News reporter commented this and I remember I felt strangely aware of that particular moment, as a ”NOW” to remember forever… A truly moment of MINDFULNESS.

My first reaction after a short while, was to write to my friend in NJ. At the time he worked as a teacher in a school south of Philly. I wrote ”Are you safe?” and he pretty much replied ”Yes. Why do you ask?” and as I remember it, he and the rest of the staff in that school did NOT know from the start what had happened in NYC, but I did, 8000 km away… That was the start of a surreal experience of watching a part of our history from my livingroom. In fact, it all happened then and there in front of me and it was horrific. I remember thinking of the future then and now I think of all the things that have happened AFTER that date. There are wars and conflicts all over the globe. Terror and meaningless violence has become a part of our time, no matter what we think. It makes me sad that so many people worldwide suffer from conflicts or become the victims of terror acts.  I think the only way to change is within ourselves. Worldwide peace may not come during my lifetime, but I hope for a more generous era soon to come. It is about time we give peace a chance.

#Himmel, #asaole

 

 

Fyrahundraåttioförsta åseriet- Den svenska skogen och dess dragningskraft för själen

lingonrisA close encounter with a pine treetallskog vid Malingarna_1Tallskogen och jag har för länge sedan hittat varandra. Jag tror att jag alltid har trivts i den öppna skogen där man har möjlighet att se väldigt långt under trädkronorna. Dessutom är det ju fullt möjligt att ta sig fram smidigt och lätt, i jämförelse med de skogar där undervegetationen fullständigt tar över och man får slå sig fram genom sly och buskage. Så här års är det blåbär och lingon som samsas med kråkbär odon och mjölon. Jag hittade en tallstam att luta huvudet mot en stund. Den var solvarm och slät och i bakgrunden hördes vågskvalp. Nära stranden där jag var, fanns inte enbart de väldigt höga tallarna, utan även deras yngre släktingar… Här fanns plats för både tallfjortisar och tallungar…

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När jag var liten läste jag Elsa Beskows böcker och varje gång jag nästan pulsar i blåbärsris den här tiden på året, tänker jag på hur Putte kämpade i blåbärsskogen…

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I tallskogens närhet finns sjöar med rent och klart vatten. På ytan skymtar en och annan vit näckros och på avstånd hör jag storlomen. Det är helt klart tallskogen som ger mig mest energi, men den dunkla mystiken som präglar en vanlig granskog är också tilldragande!

A pointing finger in the forest När jag kommit ut ur tallskogen hittade jag en ensam gran som uppfordrande pekade mot en granskog en bit bort. Jag bestämde mig för att göra granen till viljes… och sökte mig in bland de mjuka mossiga tuvorna där stenar och stubbar sedan länge gömts undan. I vilken granskog som helst tänker jag kanske inte på John Bauer, men i den här typen av orörd urskog, så är det svårt att låta bli… Det är en riktig trollskog! Så känns det! Vid något tillfälle under min promenad vänder jag blicken uppåt och ser torra grenar på en grupp med granar. Jag drar mig till minnes att granar ibland växer i grupp, som syskon… Det såg jag också vid besöket i den Nordamerikanska skogen Muir Woods sommaren 2016.

Ändå kan jag inte låta bli att tänka på att den här skogens grenverk måste te sig skrämmande mot en månbelyst kvällshimmel… Förr i världen när man trodde på skrömt och trodde sig veta att skogsrået och trollen bodde i skogen, ville man kanske inte heller gå här på kvällstid? Bakom stenarna lurar varg och lo i den vidsträckta skogen långt bort från människors hus. Det är fint att det är dag, tänker jag… Då slipper jag undra om jag är själv här eller inte…

Alla vassa konturer och hårda ytor är försvunna under ett grönt och mjukt lager. Här och där trotsar några stjälkar harsyra eller en liten svamp den dominerande mossmattan… Där granar av ålder släppt sina barr eller ståtar med torra grenverk av okänt skäl, kämpar myror för att utöka sina domäner…

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För egen del stannar jag till och lyssnar…

Skogens omisskännliga sus dominerar i den skenbara tystnaden.

Jag gläds åt att vara så långt ifrån allmän väg att inga bilar kan höras.

Detta är en lisa för själen! 

 

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