Monday, August 8, 2016

Next Steps - What Comes Next?

As Marimoto (2008) argues: “…autoethnography challenges what counts as knowledge, making the case for first person knowledge and life experience as data…”

I will conclude this first initial conversation with a promise that I will be registering a few more of my stories in a near future. I will write about the knowledge that I will still produce and about the culture aspects and issues that I will probably have to go through before retirement.

My intention with this blog is to share some of the differences and similarities I have found between being a teacher in Brazil for over 15 years and being a teacher in Canada for almost 12 years. 

Cultural aspects, language, climate, work conditions, education, friendships and family are just a few of the themes I would love to talk about in my future posts.
Ellis et al (2010) argue that: “writing personal stories can also be therapeutic for participants and readers.” I certainly find writing my stories very satisfying, it makes me reflect on my practice, and if I can also help other people through my writing that would be a fantastic bonus! As my students always say: “You got your brownie points today, Sra. Sasse!”

Thank you, Gracias, Merci :)


Ellis, Carolyn; Adams, Tony E. & Bochner, Arthur P. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview [40 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research12(1), Art. 10,

Morimoto, L. (2008). Teaching as transgression: The autoethnography of a fat physical education instructor. Proteus, 25 (2), 29-36. Retrieved from

Cultural Shock?

Merriam-Webster defines cultural shock as: “a feeling of confusion, doubt, or nervousness caused by being in a place (such as a foreign country) that is very different from what you are used to.”

Before leaving Brazil to move to Canada I read a lot about cultural shock, and the more I read, the more I was certain that I was not going to go through a cultural shock myself.
I had several reasons in my mind to believe that I would not have to fear that obstacle.

·      Canada and Brazil are located in the same continent! I know…they are far apart from each other, like north and south? But still, they are located in the same continent, so I don’t have to fear!
·      We have similar types of food… and clothing. (So, I thought).
·      I knew a little bit of English…
·      The lexical roots of Portuguese and English are from Latin…I know English has a great influence from the German language, but because the alphabet is pretty much the same I thought that learning English would be an easy task.
·      I was a teacher in Brazil, I knew how to speak Portuguese and l learned Spanish as my second language. How can learning another language be difficult for me?
·      I come from a state located in the deep South of Brazil, where it is cold and it snows in the mountains during the winter! (Believe me it does!!!)

So what can go wrong?

Part 1 - Everything!

When I first moved from Brazil to Canada, I moved to London, Ontario, which was not my first choice, but due to my husband’s job, that was our assigned place to go.
As soon as we arrived I already noticed the difference in climate, it was October, and it was only +10C!!! I had just left a warm whether with temperatures ranging from 20C to 25C plus.
After landing, a group of friends picked us up from Pearson’s Airport. We stopped at a restaurant, and my second shock occurred… What do I order? What type of food is that? The waitress tried to explain to me, but I could not understand what she was saying. My English was not good enough for so many details about food. So, I guess that the similarities between Portuguese and English lexical roots did not help me that much after all.
That was just the beginning of my cultural shock; little did I know how much more I was going to go through with clothes, school, grocery stores, doctor’s office and with my first home…that was a shocking experience itself.

Part 2 - The First House

Before moving to Canada, I had seen pictures of a few places in different Canadian provinces. I saw quite a few parks, schools and houses online. I used to imagine myself living and working in those places. I created an image in my mind of what my home in Canada would look like. When we finally moved to Canada, the place where we moved to, a small ugly townhouse in London, Ontario, did not match the image I had in my head. The ‘funny’ thing is that I started to develop great feelings for that small townhouse; it was my first place in Canada.  I learned how to love the little house and it did not look that small or ugly anymore. I started to make connections with that place; I started to get to know my neighbors and the community; that connection brought a new meaning to my place. In my mind that was the place I should be in. (At least at that time!)
That was just a few of my anxious moments in Canada… there were quite a few more after that…
I can completely relate with the ideas shared by Juffer (1985) on her article called: “RESEARCHING CULTURE SHOCK: 
I love the beginning of Juffer (1985)’s article, which describes really well what I went through during my first months (years) in Canada…
“When a person goes abroad and enters a new environment, cultural cues that have been taken for granted as simply part of the "fabric of life" no longer are assessed accurately. Life becomes unpredictable and people have problems coping with even routine aspects of living. The simplest, semi-automatic tasks such as listening to the radio, getting a drink of water, going to the grocery store, driving a car, or chatting with neighbors require full concentration and attention to complete successfully. Since every detail, large and small, in the new environment demands the full attention of the expatriate, mental fatigue soon occurs which further frustrates the coping mechanisms.” (Juffer, 1985, p.2)


Cultural Shock - definition (n.d.). In Merriam Webster. Retrieved August 7, 2016 from

Juffer, K. (1985). Researching Culture Shock: 
The Culture Shock Adaptation Inventory. In Action Research & Associates, Inc. Washington: DC. Retrieved from

Friday, August 5, 2016

Where do teachers go to relax after a difficult day at school?

They go to the lake…

East Lake in Airdrie, Alberta.


First of all, I need to say why I am choosing this place…
So here it goes: as Ellis (2010) argues,  "A place is above all a territory of meanings. These meanings are created both by what one receives from and by what one gives to a particular environmental context” (p. 394).
This lake has a great importance to me; as I walk around the lake almost every day, I have developed a huge appreciation for this place for its environmental aspects and for some other personal aspects that I will reveal in the next segments of my analyses.

                     Real Picture of the lake:  (From my personal archive)


Why this place is important to me:

This place is important to me because this lake has been part of my life since I moved to Airdrie, in 2009, and I have been walking around this lake since then.

I first found this lake by accident; of course, the city of Airdrie had advertised its parks all the time on its website and on the local newspaper. But, I never took the time to go and visit the parks.

One day, as I was doing my daily walk after work, I took a different path and that path took me to this lake! The lake was just 30 minutes from my house, but because I was always followed the same trails I never been to the lake before.
I was amazed; it is such a beautiful and peaceful place.
That was early in November 2009, since then I try to walk around the East Lake every day. Sometimes I take my dog with me; sometimes my daughter comes along; other times my husband comes with me.

I have already built such great memories about this lake! I remember walking around the lake very excited with the possibility of a new teaching job coming up. Other times I was sad, walking around the lake, thinking about the things that had happened during my day that were not so good.

                                           Aerial View of the Lake:
  Extracted  from:  

Teachers need a place for relaxation...  I found mine, a place where I go after school to re-energize for the next day :)
I love to walk around that lake just to get some fresh air and to organize my mind and thoughts.
I love to walk there and look at people strolling by the lake in different directions; some of them alone, others with one or two dogs, some with their children; a few of them even texting and walking. A few people like to bike around the lake instead, while others prefer to skate or just do a quick jog.

They all seem to be part of a dance-ballet, suggested by Seamon (1979), "the groundstone of place ballet is the coming together of peoples' time-space routines and body ballets in terms of space.” (p.144).
I feel part of the dance too…sometimes I feel like I am dancing a salsa, as walk happily around the lake. Other days it feels like I am dancing an endless tango as I pace around the lake thinking about some of the problems that I need to solve…

I have developed a sense of attachment and dependence for this lake, so much so that when I cannot go there for my habitual walk, I feel that there is something missing in my day... And there is something missing… my connection with that place, my time alone, and my break from the pressures of my workday is being neglected.

I can get quite moody if I don’t get to walk around the lake for too many days in a row. I can totally see how places can add value to our perspectives and be so intrinsically part of our daily lives. As Ellis (2011) has argued, "our experiences are circumscribed by our places and our personalities and perspectives are developed from the experiences we have in the places available to us.” (p. 355).

I go to so many places during the day… I go to my school then back home, to the grocery store, to my friends’ houses, to the local fast food restaurants, etc.
But, that lake is where I feel rested, I feel re-energized, and this place is so close to home that sometimes I feel like it is part of my home!

I really like Relph’s (1976) quote: “but one thing at least is clear – weather the world we live in has a placeless geography or a geography of significant places, the responsibility for it is ours alone.” (p. 147). This idea resonates so much with me… This lake is available to me everyday, at any time of the day, and I take advantage of its proximity and peacefulness.

As John Muir’s famous quote says: “The mountains are calling and I must go.”
I paraphrase him and say: “The lake is calling and I must go.”

My personal view of the lake: (My own drawing, it was not done by a kindergarten student!!! LOL)


Ellis, J. (2004). Researching Children's Place and Space. JCT: Journal Of Curriculum Theorizing (1057896X), 20(1), 83-100.

Ellis, J. (2010). The importance of attending to children and place. In G.S. Goodman (Ed.), Educational psychology reader: The art and science of how people learn (p. 386 - 402). New York: Peter Lang.

Muir, J. (n.d.). Retrieved August 4, 2016, from Web site:

Relph, E. (1976). Place and Placeness. In Research in Planning and Design. (141-147). London: Pion Limited. Retrieved from:

Seamon, D. (1979). Place Ballet as a Whole. In A Geography of the LifeWorld. (142-153). London: Croom Helm. Retrieved from:


Teaching in Canada (From 2005-2016 and counting…) What I Like The Most…

Hamdan (2012) argues that: "the tie between intercultural learning experiences and how they contribute to a learning process that is further facilitated through the methodology/process of autoethnography.”

There are so many things I love about Canada!!! The people, the food, the safety we feel when we walk on the streets, the economy! Just about everything!

Teaching in Canada, to me has been an amazing experience. I wanted to move to Canada, I wanted to teach in Canada. I am here teaching in a Spanish Bilingual School in Calgary by choice, and I love it!

When I was moving to Canada, my Brazilian fellow teachers once told me: “you are moving to a land of plenty.” Little did I know how much accuracy this statement would carry… We have everything we need here in our “ True, North, Strong and Free Land.” Our schools are well equipped; we have great technology available, even though we think we don’t… We have tons (and I mean it: tons!!!) of school supplies available to us daily in our classrooms!

I have so many books in my classroom library; I have other several books dedicated exclusively for home reading. I have two book collections, one in English and one in Spanish. My math resource’s closet is full of manipulatives.
I have two globes and several maps for social studies. I have another shelf full of materials that resembles a “mini-lab” for science. I have a brand new Smart-Board connected to a new Mac Lap-Top, plus two Mac desktop computers for students’ use. Our gym has several materials that enable me to create different physical education units for the whole school year. We have plenty!

I am sure I have forgotten to mention several other resources that I have available for me and for my students at my school. However, the point that I want to make is, we have so much stuff, and we hoard things; we underutilize resources and we waste our supplies!

I have talked to my administration, to a few parents and to some fellow teachers about our daily waste of materials at school. We held several discussions with our students about saving our resources starting in our classrooms. We have accomplished a lot so far! We have adopted the famous motto: “reduce, re-use recycle.” Our students are becoming more mindful of the amount of resources we use daily in the classrooms. They are becoming more creative, they are developing a different mindset regarding the attention that they give to their personal belongings. They are making a difference in our classroom and at their homes! That is what I like the most…


Hamdan, A. (2012). Autoethnography as a Genre of Qualitative Research: A Journey Inside Out (pp.585- 606) In International Journal of Qualitative Methods 11(5). Retrieved from:

Teaching in Brazil… (From 1990-2004) What I Miss The Most…

As Wall (2006) argued: "Autoethnography is an emerging qualitative research method that allows the author to write in a highly personalized style, drawing on his or her experience to extend understanding about a societal phenomenon."

Teaching in Brazil was not an easy task. The schools were old and the school’s supplies were scarce. The economy in Brazil was never good, and the corruption contributed for the lack of resources for schools and for so many other organizations dedicated to the public interest. In other words, a very sad situation, but that never let my mood to be changed or my dreams to be vanished away!

We had, though, to save absolutely everything in order to have materials available for any project we wanted to create. That was always our main goal, to save as much school supplies and resources as we could to make it last until the end of the school year. Students had to learn very early in life how to “budget” for school supplies…

With the “save everything’s mind set” came a lot of creativity. We had to be creative, we had to invent and recycle things. I remember using lots of different materials in my Art classes; we also learned how to share and trade everything we could.

I used to have in my classroom a large treasure box! It was not like these treasure boxes that you see here in Canada at the restaurants where the children can pick a cool toy at the end of their meals. My treasure box housed recycled pieces of paper, wool, tape, buttons, thread, yarn, glue, a few pairs of scissors, and a few other things that we could use to create a great artifact. That was all we had to be artistic when working on a classroom project. Sometimes I would have a few students bringing some supplies to the class as well, but nothing fancy, only a few scraps of what their moms had in their sewing kits, a few empty yogurt containers, egg cartons, etc.

However, at the end of the day, we would have castles, princes and princess, parks, forests, airplanes, hospitals, schools, cars, ambulances and so many other cool things made of recycled materials, but created through a lot of creativity and involvement.

We had to be careful so our “objects” would not to fall apart, as the amount of glue and tape we had was limited. We normally had a mini-fair where the other students from different classes would come and look at our creations. Then, the kids would take their creations home and cherish them as if they were precious models. Those objects were precious!!! To them and to their families those simple pieces of artwork were more than precious!  I really miss that…


Wall, Sarah. (2006). An Autoethnography on Learning about Autoethnography. In International Journal of Qualitative Methods 5 (2) Article 9. Retrieved from

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Auto-Ethnography - What is that again?

Ellis et al (2010), describe Auto-Ethnography as an: “… approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. This approach challenges canonical ways of doing research and representing others and treats research as a political, socially-just and socially-conscious act. A researcher uses tenets of autobiography and ethnography to do and write auto-ethnography. Thus, as a method, auto-ethnography is both process and product.”

In this blog, which will be my personal journal through my daily experiences in Education, I will start a process of writing my auto-ethnography.
I will mix stories from the past, when I was a teacher in Brazil with my recent experiences of being a teacher in Canada. I will try to make sense of the things that happened to me when I was a teacher in Brazil that helped to shape who I am today. I will try to show through my current stories what I still bring in me from my life growing up and teaching in Brazil during the 70s, 80s and 90s. But I will not tell you how old I am. You might figure this one out based on the stories you will read.

I hope you enjoy reading my stories.

Now, embark with me in this adventurous journey from the past to the future!

Thank you!

PS.: In 2013, I gave an interview for the University of Calgary Courses' Program and I talked about some of the dreams I had at that point. Some of those dreams I already achieved!
Please, find on the link below a brief story of my educational trajectory after moving from Brazil to Canada. 


Ellis, Carolyn; Adams, Tony E. & Bochner, Arthur P. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview [40 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(1), Art. 10,

Sasse, C. (2013). Spanish Language and Culture Certificate - Interview. In: University of Calgary ContEd. Calgary, Canada: U of C Courses and Programs Magazine. Retrieved from:

Welcome to my Auto-Ethnography Blog (Voki Presentation)

Ellis et al (2010), argue that: “…‘telling’ is a writing strategy that works with ‘showing’ in that it provides readers some distance from the events described so that they might think about the events in a more abstract way."

This presentation is called Voki creation, and you can use this tool to introduce yourself in a blog, in an e-Class, etc.  You can even use it to introduce yourself to your own class of students! Through a Voki’s Avatar you can tell who you are… here it is me…

Hello Everyone and Welcome to my Auto-Ethnography Blog!

The link below will take you that a brief introduction about my blog.

Enjoy it:

 Ellis, Carolyn; Adams, Tony E. & Bochner, Arthur P. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview [40 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research12(1), Art. 10,

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

My Perspective on Being a Teacher - Poem -

Ellis et al (2010), argue that: “…autobiographers also can make a text artful and evocative by altering authorial points of view.”

This poem will tell you my perspectives of being a teacher, seeing from the school daily’s routines.

For The Loving Of Teaching

Long hours,

Loud voices.

Sometimes I feel like I never left this classroom.

My students think I live at school.

Sometimes I think that too.

Is it summer yet?

When can I rest?

We all long for the summer…

Teachers, staff, students and their parents

We just want to get over with it.

Tests, exams, activities, field trips, plan, get ready…

Report cards, meetings, conferences.

Learn and forget.

Make plans again.

Some days are fun,

Some days are crazy.

Children running inside the school when they hear the bell…

Teachers walking fast to get to classrooms before the students.

Another day begins…

Students with their priorities, problems and issues,

Teachers with their priorities, problems and issues.

We need a class meeting, let’s talk about our problems.

Is that part of the curriculum?

Yes, indeed!

We feel relieved.

Back to our lesson plan.

Tests, exams, activities, field trips, plan, get ready…

Report cards, meetings, conferences.

Learn and forget.

Make plans again.


Then another year comes around and…

Long hours,

Loud voices…

 Ellis, Carolyn; Adams, Tony E. & Bochner, Arthur P. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview [40 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(1), Art. 10,