I’ve been having some major fall weather withdrawal as I’ve been going into year 2 of living in Singapore, the land of one season and temperature. Now that I’m in Taipei for fall break, I’ve been loving the cooler and more “fall” like weather. On my hike this morning to elephant mountain, I was excited to see some leaves of foliage color. It’s the little things that can bring me such joy! More to come on my adventures in Taipei.
After much going back and forth in my mind, I walked out onto my balcony and it felt cooler than the normal 90 degree weather, so I made a decision. I decided to to run outside. I looked up on my google maps, how far the distance was to MacRitchie reservoir and I realized that it wasn’t too far. I could run to the reservoir and back, and I remembered that the route I took on the bus seemed pretty easy.
Once I got outside of my apartment building, I quickly felt like i was running in my own video game, dodging people walking on the sidewalks, waiting at stoplights to cross the big streets, passing by people eating outside, and making sure I didn’t trip over any uneven sidewalks, like I did in Chicago. I found that running on the busy night streets of Singapore was more exciting then expected. Besides making sure I didn’t get run over by any taxis, and the humid weather, I found it bearable tonight.
As I continued my run, at one point, I saw an Asian guy waiting at the crosswalk in front of me. I thought, oh great, I don’t want to be stuck running behind someone, because that’s always kind of awkward. So as soon as the light turned green, I sprinted ahead of him so there would hopefully be a distance. Then, there was a big set of stairs in front of me as I was reaching closer I saw from the corner of my eye the same guy running ahead of me and up the stairs, I kept going straight on the path and felt a sense of relief.
A little while later, the same guy zoomed ahead of me. I must have been running really slow, considering how he caught up to me while going up and down a big flight of stairs. Other than that moment of personal embarrassment, I continued to run back to my apartment and I started to feel a glimpse of hope.
I decided that running needs to be a priority for these next two months as I train for my first half-marathon. Despite the huge amounts of anxiety I get when I think about how much I actually have to run on race day, I decided that I can’t give up yet. I will continue my small steps in training and pray real hard that my training plan will prepare me for race day. So join me on my running journey. And don’t let me have any more excuses.
Some of the bright and lovely sights on my run tonight!
It’s official, I’m no longer a plant killer. After multiple attempts over the years to grow and keep plants in my apartment, I was never too successful. Last year, I bought an orchid plant from the wet market near by and it did well for the first month of so. But quickly, I saw it’s downfall as it lost all of it’s flowers and all that was left were it’s green leaves. However, instead of throwing it out, I decided to keep it. I still continued to water it as it stayed out on my balcony through the unchanging Singapore season.
After a long summer back in the States, I came back, and to my surprise, I saw some new buds growing. I honestly couldn’t really believe that the plant was still alive. A week later, the flowers started to bloom one by one. Now, it looked like a brand new orchid; stronger, full of life, and still growing.
I was talking to a co-worker about a student who was quite difficult in her class two years ago, but now this student was doing much better as a fifth grader. She joked how all that hard work she put into that kid was finally paying off. Just like that orchid plant that I continued to water and take care of, sometimes you might not see any visible changes immediately with the children you work with.
As an international school teacher, we are in a very transient community and it’s hard to see how your students have grown when many of them move to different countries or schools after the school year. I wonder how my students that I taught in Korea are doing now that I’ve lost touch with many of them. However, that doesn’t mean you made any less of an impact.
Every time I look at my orchid plant, in full bloom, I am still in awe. I touch it’s flowers and make sure it’s really still alive and healthy. So let’s continue to have a bit more patience. Let’s continue to hope when there seems to be no signs of growth. And let’s continue to breathe life into the lives of our students.
After all these years of teaching, you would think that I wouldn’t be so nervous about being observed. All day, I couldn’t help, but feel anxious and excited as I awaited the time of my observation. This was the first time I was being formally observed for an entire lesson at my new school.
I had a lot planned for the 45 minute session. I would be doing an entire reading workshop, which included a mini-lesson, independent reading and share time. I was excited to have my principal come in because I honestly enjoy getting the feedback afterwards. When I was teaching in NYC, I had a phenomenal principal who always gave me really good and constructive feedback. He really challenged me to improve my teaching craft through his feedback and high expectations for learning at all times.
I was excited to have my new principal see my reading workshop as I’ve been working on improving a few areas like small group conferences and keeping better notes of conferences through my IPAD app confer. I totally recommend it if you have an IPAD!
The lesson overall went smoothly as I felt my timing was good and I was able to get through 3 small group conferences in a 30 minute independent reading session. I was able to keep my mini-lesson at 10 minutes and also get through the share at the end. It’s not easy getting all that packed into a short 45 minute session, but I felt a sense of relief and accomplishment at the end.
When I came home and read through my students’ slice of life posts, one of my students had written about the observation and compared it to being like lab rats being observed by a scientist, but in a “good way”. I couldn’t help, but laugh out loud. How could you not love my students?!
This slice is inspired by another slice I read from Pamela here: http://www.pamelahodges.org/2012/09/22/its-okay-to-start-small/
A Dream in my Pocket
I have a dream in my pocket.
I pull it out.
I shove it back in.
I completely forget about it.
I sit on it and it pokes me.
I carefully pull it out.
I look at it and wonder.
I shove it back in my pocket.
* * *
I pull out my dream again.
I put my dream into words.
I share my dream with people.
I realize that this is a big dream, but it’s my dream.
I will need time to nurture and grow my dream.
No longer in my pocket, my dream is in front of me.
* * *
What dreams do you have in your pocket?
I am so happy that the first month of school is done with. It was a great time, but incredibly stressful and overwhelming all at once. It definitely had its highs and its lows. However, I wanted to remember how I survived it all!
- I survived my first month of school! This is a big deal. At times, I felt like a first year teacher all over again. As I was dealing with a new curriculum, a new school, and a new country, many days I could only focus on one day at a time, in order to prevent myself from drowning!
- I survived back-to-school night, where almost all of the parents came. Partly because I’m a new teacher, and they are scoping me out!
- I survived my first round of progress reports. It’s nice that the format is open for us to choose and they are not required, but of course I still did them for all of my students!
- I survived a field trip to a water park with 280 5th grade students on the second week of school.
- I survived on our school’s amazing cafeteria food (Mr. Hoe’s catering) for lunch, and many times breakfast and/or snacks during our meetings. This food has given me energy, life and possibly a few extra pounds?!
- I survived figuring out our 24 day rotating schedule with only 1 small mishap so far. Yes, we have 24 DAY ROTATING SCHEDULE! Somehow, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
- I survived my first month of school, despite the overwhelming pressure I gave myself to do the best job possible, especially as a new teacher.
I’m still trying to figure out how to balance school life with everything else, including blogging. I hope that I can at least keep up with the slice of life Tuesdays, even though these past few weeks, sleep became a priority over blogging. Thank you to everyone who has been leaving comments on my blog! I’m so thankful to have this writing community because it helps me feel at home, even if I’m 9,500 miles away from my physical home.
What are some of your accomplishments in the first month/weeks of school?
1) The second time around was easier than the first time!
2) It is easier to write about things I’m passionate about and that are close to my heart. I found myself opening up more to this writing community through my posts.
3) Writing about my experiences here in Korea as I’m transitioning to Singapore has helped me to process all that I’m going through. It has made me appreciate my time in Korea and reflect on how much I’ve grown.
4) Comments are awesome! A real audience and actual feedback makes a world of a difference. I’ve been blown away by all the thoughtful comments I’ve received. It has been so affirming and made me feel like a real writer.
5) In order to produce good writing, it takes time and revision. The more time I spent on writing and revising my slices, the stronger my writing was.
6) Taking time to write daily takes advance planning. I knew March would be a really busy month for me, so I had to really plan out how I would do this. Being in another time zone 13 hours ahead actually helped. I would try to have my slice for the next day ready by the previous day. That way I wouldn’t be frantically stressed out at school about getting my slice ready and posted.
7) Your writing is powerful. Maybe I’m just getting more emotional as I get older, but there have more than a few times where I so moved by your slice. As I wiped away the tears land sliding down my face, I would leave a comment that probably didn’t show exactly how moved I was. Thank you for writing!
8) Some days were really hard to write. However, getting in a habit of writing every day has really increased my stamina! I didn’t find it as difficult to find something to write about as I did the first year I participated.
9) Writing everyday while on vacation was difficult, but doable. Having to deal with the slow internet connection from my hotel in Paris, plus being completed exhausted from being out all day made it challenging to keep up with the slices. However, I managed to do it and am glad I did.
10) I’m so thankful for the slice of life community. I’m so inspired by everyone. There are some of those slicers who have so dutifully commented on so many of my slices. I’m sorry if I didn’t get to return all those comments on your posts. There are so many slices that have encouraged me, made me laugh and opened my eyes.
It’s that time of the year, where we get overwhelmed with school work, the holidays and everything else we need to do! I don’t know about you, but my to do list keeps on increasing. I cross off one item, then I need to add five more. I’ve come to a point of not putting things on my to do list, because I think it will just stress me out more if I can’t cross it out immediately!
I think as teachers, we get so caught up in all that we need to do, we don’t stop and reflect enough on our accomplishments, how small or big they might be. I love that in reading and writing workshop, at the end of every unit, we have some sort of celebration, where we celebrate the hard work that my students have done as readers and writers. Sometimes it’s an all out publishing party with food and parents, other times, it’s a simple sharing with each other.
What if as teachers, we were required to reflect and celebrate after each quarter/semester the work that we do as teachers?
A small accomplishment that I felt proud of was when my students got really excited to read a particular book I recommended. The book I recommended to my students was Because of Mr. Terupt. I actually first heard about this book from a post from Two Writing Teachers! It has been a hit with my students. I have one copy that has been rotating around and another student just finished it this weekend. I love it when books in my class have a long waiting list and students can’t wait to read it next! My student came in and told me, “This book makes me write a lot of post-it notes.” I just smiled back. The other two students that read the book absolutely loved it as well!
So today, stop and take a moment to reflect on the past few months and share with us one of your accomplishments! Let’s celebrate all the great work that you have been doing!
For more slice of life entries, go to two writing teachers!
As we strolled into Art Box, we immediately were drawn to the myriad of pretty notebooks that lined the shelves and tables. I knew the minute we stepped in, it would be hard to leave empty handed, as we were two teachers in a stationary store full of notebooks, fancy pens and more. Trying to stay focused on our task of buying a birthday present for our friend, we started to look at the notebooks. After finding one suitable for our friend, we got side tracked. We were immediately drawn to this notebook at first. Loved it.
Then, we found these. They were perfect. Idea notebooks. Melody liked the black one and I chose the white one. The writing teacher in us made it hard to resist a splurge on a new notebook! We justified the purchase by deciding that could start writing down all our wonderful teaching ideas and reflections. We could brainstorm ideas for our future teaching blog that we plan on making together. We could write down the funny thing our student said. We could stop and reflect on the exhausting, time consuming, and rewarding life of the teacher.
For more slice of life entries go to two writing teachers!
“The unexamined life, is not worth living.” –Socrates
I’ve had a few conversations recently with my colleagues about the importance of reflecting on our practice. We talked about how in our graduate schools we wrote reflections on everything from: reflections on our learning process, on our teaching philosophies, on our students’ learning, etc.
However, as teachers it’s hard to find that time to sit down and reflect on our practice. As the seasons are changing, and school is in full swing, now is the time to reflect on these first two months of school and where to move on from here. Here are some of the things I’m reflecting about:
How am I meeting the needs of all my students in my class?
How can I continue to build community in my class?
How can I provide meaningful opportunities for students to share their writing?
How can I incorporate technology into storytelling? (Inspired by this awesome video I just saw: Writing in the Digital Age )
How am I maintaining balance in my life?