Spotlight Continues

It’s been “official” for a a few weeks already, but today it was made even more real: I’ll be co-author of another English school textbook.

I was at a meeting this morning with the book publishers, Natur och Kultur, to meet a couple of teachers helping us complete the workbook to accompany Spotlight 5. The textbook is ready to print, and Fiona and I (being the authors) will soon take a look at the workbook, editing it as necessary.

We were also there to discuss Spotlight 6. We’ve come up with a few ideas for characters, and the grammar we wish to take up. This time we’ll have about a year to complete the book, unlike Spotlight 5, which was finished in a mere 6 months. Our editor said that we performed an impossible task, taking half a year to do what we did. An exaggeration, but nonetheless appreciated.

So, once again I am to undertake a challenging, but extremely rewarding, task. The enormity of what I am doing has kind of sunk in, yet it is still madness that I, of humble origins and no proper education, have been given this job.

I Think I Just Got A Good Job

There was an announcement on the website of Swedish publishing-house, Natur och Kultur, the other month, asking for people interested in the English language to work for them on a freelance basis. While they produce all kinds of books, this particular post was for their School text book section (if one such section actually exists). I applied, and, after much communication and sending them past work and stuff, I got a green light for an exercise I was asked to do for a class 8 textbook.

This is madness, just in itself, but I was asked to a meeting today to talk about another project. It appears that two authors of a series of English schoolbooks called Spotlight have apparently been unable to continue working together; they wanted me, along with another Brit, to write the non-existent year 5 Spotlight books.

I have to write that again: they want me to co-write a book to potentially be used in schools across Sweden.

That is absurd.

I just have to make sure that my co-writer, Fiona, and I don’t end up hating each other, and that we can complete the first unit in the book to NOK’s approval, and I should be a published writer.

I shall save any further musings until this insane situation is nearer realisation, but it’s all quite exciting, nonetheless.

A Return To Work (That’s What You Think)

Last week was Easter holidays, and my third week away from work. I’ve been feeling more or less okay during this time, having the uncomfortable feelings of the beginnings of a panic attack relatively few times.

Yesterday morning, from 5.30 until early afternoon I was overcome with a terrible feeling of sadness, one which created an emptiness in my stomach, and seemed to spread itself along my spine. I cried almost non-stop, unable to shake away the desperation.

I’d decided to go back to work this morning. I awoke earlier than the alarm, as I usually do on work mornings, and felt quite calm at the prospect of my return. As I lay there, thoughts of school started to filter through my inner calm, and within half an hour I was swallowing a pill to prevent the onset of an attack.

It’s easy to link these two happenings to my workplace, but I am truly surprised at the ferociousness of the unwillingness my subconscious is showing. I knew it would be difficult until I can get proper help (both medicinal and therapeutic), but these are very clear signals I am being given.

They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha, Ha

The inevitable has happened: I am officially messed up enough to be signed off work for two weeks.

I knew that, should my work situation not improve, I would become a casualty of war. I was hoping that last Thursday, a study day where the pupils stay at home, we teachers would take up what I consider to be a major concern for my mental health, the other employees and pupils alike: the (near) absence of consequences for breaking school rules. I’d even forewarned the sub-headmistress and headmaster of the likelihood of my breakdown, should nothing be done to help me, with talk of a few proposals coming by the end of the week to take away some of the weight. But to no avail.

So, Thursday comes, and I convince myself that, despite a hitherto shaky week, I would be my normal self, and that this day away from the children would be enough to (at least) carry me through the next fortnight, until Easter. Easter would give me a further week’s holiday to thoroughly rid myself of the ridiculous anxiety I have been experiencing for the last few months.

It appears not to work like that.

Thursday morning is spent fighting back tears, phasing out, feeling half-zombified. Thursday morning is not one such morning I feel like talking about the pupils’ influence in school, and how it can be bettered. Thursday morning should have been about me, and the numerous other teachers who feel helpless and powerless. Thursday morning was the morning I felt like no number of proposals would be enough, and that the only recourse would be a visit to the doctor’s.

I took Friday off, and felt shit. Saturday and Sunday weren’t much better, though we did manage to get out the house long enough for Freya to be unaffected by my situation. Monday morning comes, I ring in sick (until Wednesday), ring the doctor and…I start to get a panic attack.

Panic attacks are not nice. This is a truism, I know, but I still feel it important to note. The only solution to my predicament, after lying down in a dark room trying to breath it all away, was to go out for a walk in the woods. After about an hour I started to feel relaxed enough to attempt a return to home to eat something, and while away the time until the afternoon’s appointment.

I advised the doctor that I’d like both time off, plus medicine to stop any further attacks, and he obliged. This morning I needed a pill to ward off feelings of anxiety (they are strongest in the morning), and I’ve had a fairly ordinary day. I must try and go for long walks every day, and, personally, I want to stop thinking too far ahead, to things that have yet to be done. I was at one time quite good at thinking in the “now”, but I seem to have lost that ability, and I want it back.

The next step is to go to school and try and get a decent set of working conditions. The major problem will/can not be resolved, but I can at least make my time in the classroom more enjoyable and less-stressful.

I have not thought further than the positive belief that these steps will be enough to satiate my requirements for a situation I shall be happy to work in. Time will tell.

Class 5s’ Special Week

Back to work today, after a week’s respite, and I can’t say I’m particularly happy about the prospect. I was, however, quite interested to get the 5th year’s National Test underway, as I’d been planning their week for a while now.

We started with a light breakfast in the dining room at 08.20 this morning. About 25 of the 40 children turned up, to munch their way through cheese sandwiches (I should be, and am a little, pleased that they got anything to eat, a fair number of them not having breakfast at home), but it did seem a bit on the stingy side. No milk to drink (what am I saying!), and no thought for those who are allergic to milk products.

We then went for a quick 10 minute walk up the road, and up the hill. The idea was that this would give the pupils some fresh air and exercise to get the brain working, as well as having time for them to ask any final questions about the day/week, rather than having them ask in the classroom just before the test.

The actual test (part one of five) and accompanying papers took the whole of the morning, as planned, and I think it all went quite well. The aim of this “special treatment” before the exam, which they shall get tomorrow and Wednesday, is for them themselves to feel a bit special, that this is “their” week. Even if they do not do as well as they’d hoped (which most of them will), the whole experience should be an enjoyable one.

I’m not looking forward to the paperwork created by 40 tests, which just comes at the worst time. Classes 1 – 5 are just starting their parent-talks, which requires me to write something meaningful about the 150 children who have English with me.