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Jakob became a better teacher

Jakob Lindgren

Jakob Lindgren

Trainee teacher Jakob Lindgren says the experience he gained through his placement with Comenius assistants was invaluable.

Comenius assistants is a scheme for trainee teachers and newly qualified teachers whereby they are given the opportunity to work as teaching assistants in a different European county.

Jakob spent four months as a teaching assistant in Tuscany at a secondary school in Castiglion Fiorentino teaching students between the ages of 14 and 19.

“It has given me new perspectives on the teacher’s role and also made me a much better teacher”, says Jakob. He speaks of a school where there was a shortage of technical equipment and the teachers still used blackboards. If a teacher was off sick no substitute was called in, instead the teachers with free time between lessons had to fill in.

“This put great emphasis on verbal communication, not being able to rely on supporting materials. It was difficult but very instructive”.

He was surprised by how lively and loud the Italian students were and sometimes missed the discipline of Swedish schools. But at the same time the atmosphere was more open, there were more jokes and the lessons less planned in detail. The teachers were more flexible and could divert from the lesson plans.

Jakob Lindgren took a short break in his studies at Linköping University to be able to take part in the placement. He has now qualified as a teacher in history, social studies and religion and will in August start a new job at Klara Norra Gymnasium in Stockholm teaching social studies related subjects. In Tuscany he taught English.

“Even though I didn’t teach in my subjects I don’t feel my time there was wasted, on the contrary”, says Jakob who encourages other future teachers to apply to the programme.

“But be prepared for hard work. I spoke no Italian when I arrived and very few in Castiglion Fiorentino spoke English. And there were no other Comenius assistants at the school or in the town, so there was no pre-prepared social network. It was hard but worth it. I came back a stronger person. I am a better teacher. And I speak Italian!”

At Linköping University there is a lot of work going into the internationalisation of the teacher training programme, which leads many students, like Jakob Lindgren, to apply for placements through Comenius assistants. Lena Örnestrand, Faculty Coordinator, believes this is because the students are approached directly, via mail and meetings.

“We also present information at lunches, answer questions and assist with the application. We have a good workflow in place and this leads to good results”, says Lena.

“But the most important reason for the increased uptake is the positive experiences of previous Comenius assistants and the fact that they actively share these experiences. Many prefer the Comenius assistants programme to other kinds of exchanges as it gives them opportunities to develop as teachers in exciting school environments”, says study counsellor Ann-Charlotte Lindgren.


Therese Winder 2009-06-25




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Last updated: 2009-06-25