Thoughts from Maidstone

Tankar och reflektioner från Mrs Rebecca Howard, Maidstone Grammer School for girls
England. Rebeccca och hennes kollega Neil var på studiebesök i Norrtälje för att se hur vi använder oss av IKT i undervisningen. Här är hennes berättelse.

We had such a valuable time visiting Rodengymnasiet this week. We started off our visit with a breakfast meeting with a group of teachers from local schools. Everyone was immensely friendly and keen to find out who we were and why we were here and, a continuing pattern we would experience for the rest of the day, keen to give up their time to help us. We experienced our first Swedish breakfast which was great, especially the copious amounts of strong coffee! We listened to some great talks on Onenote, QR codes and a visit to South Korea. All this and is wasn’t even 8 o’clock in the morning!

Then it was off to a Swedish lesson with the amazing Elsa. We weren’t prepared for the warmth, energy and kindness that hit us when we entered her classroom. Each student came and shook hands with us, introduced themselves and told us where they were from; this ranged from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Syria and Somalia. What struck us the most was how happy and enthusiastic they were; it was period 1 on a dark morning and I’m sure our students back in England wouldn’t be starting the day with such zeal. Each student had an iPad and they used an app called SVA which had a wide range of stories in their respective native languages and also in Swedish and English (we’re definitely going to find this to use back at our school). Elsa’s teaching was inspiring. Her questioning style so effective and her ability to inspire and motivate the students ever visible; hands were up constantly. Thanks Elsa- we we inspired by your teaching and warmth and the students were a credit to you and the school.


Next was a maths lesson with Jonas. Students were given a mathematical problem regarding prey and predators. We quickly learned that most of the time was dedicated to encouraging students to think for themselves and the mathematical calculating could be quickly carried out by a computer. Students were clearly used to this style of learning and, in groups, talked at length about the different variables for this problem. This, again, was a great lesson to see, not least for the impact this teaching style had on the students’ ability to think independently. Use of technology here was clearly freeing up time for the students to collaborate and move forward.

After coffee, we had a meeting with Anna who was in charge of organising all of the computers for the school. This was an enormous undertaking and, since September, she had clearly made a huge success of this. One thing we were really impressed with was the fact that the school uses students for IT support. Students helping other students to learn a new app or fix something wrong with their computers is a great way of advancing and collaborating. We gave Anna the email address of our own IT coordinator as we were discussing a different way of organising student and staff laptops. I hope Daniel can help out as much as she has helped us.

Next we have the chance to meet with English man Danny Stacey. We worked out that he was vaguely similar to an OFSTED inspector in England. His role was to visit local schools and offer suggestions on how to improve teaching and learning. It was great to chat to someone and get their perspective on the differences and similarities between English and Swedish education systems. Was chatting whilst we experienced the school canteen, which offered delicious food in comparison to our one in England!

After lunch we have a chance to meet with Kathrin who was English teacher and she showed us the great work she’s been doing with Onenote. She has basically created an online course for her students witch enables them to independently access all the work, collaborate, submit their own work, and for her to give feedback. Again we really appreciated the time she gave us and she was keen to answer all the questions we had and to give us all the advice she could.

The final part of the day was spent with David, who showed us how he uses Onenote and the amazing course he has set up for his students. We then got to see this in practice in one of his politics classes, where students were working in groups to explain different political ideologies and then feeding back to each other. They were working hard and clearly enjoying learning together. Many thanks to David for giving up his time.

Johan had organised the whole program for us and spent the whole day with us, too, which we really appreciate. An extra addition to the original schedule was that we got to visit the vocational building with mechanics carpentry, and electronics This was great to see as it’s so different to what we have in England with the idea of students being able to have the opportunity to learn a vocation alongside other academic subject was a great one. Again huge thanks to Johan for all the time and effort he spent on the programme and for being so welcoming on the day. We really hope we can repay the favour one day; we’d love to welcome visitors from your school to England; both students and teachers!

Reflections and thoughts? Well, we ended the day being overwhelmed with your hospitality and keenness to dedicate your time to giving us help and advice. The school has a lovely, friendly atmosphere and the students have a wonderful opportunity to learn in a supportive and nurturing environment. The use of technology here is clearly completely embedded and has enabled students to become much more independent and helped motivate them. It’s quite simply a lovely school; teachers are happy and the students likewise. We would love to have a chance to come back one day but, in the meantime, we must keep in touch and explore any online links we could have.


Mrs Rebecca Howard
Head of MFL


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