Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Day in the Life

There is no such thing as a typical work week here.  This is due to all of the holidays and shows that the Thai culture seems to value a tad bit more than academics.  These, along with other constant interruptions, force me to be incredibly flexible with my teaching time.  With zero planned disturbances this week, I decided to use today as a model of the most typical day I have had in a couple of weeks.

Things that happen every day:

-7 minute walk to school. I arrive at school between 7:30 and 7:45, unless I have gate duty.  Everyone has gate duty once every two weeks at 7:10 am.  There are usually four teachers, including myself, who have to stand at the gate of the school and greet the students (Thai and English teachers). For forty minutes straight I say, “Good morning,” “Good morning,” “Good morning,” “Good morning,” “Good morning,”  “Good morning...”  Picture this getting very repetitive after a short three minutes.

-Flag Ceremony.  With my Thai teacher, I line my students up around 7:50 to go to Flag.  All classes stand outside in the courtyard for the morning assembly.  The Thai students and teachers begin with the King’s Royal Anthem, which is extremely catchy and I have learned to really enjoy it.  Then they do their Thai chants.  There is lots of waiing and the Thai flag is raised.  I have no idea what they are saying, but my job is to stand there and make sure the kids are behaving, shirts are tucked in, and hair is looking nice.  Sometimes there are also announcements made.  Flag lasts anywhere from 5-20 minutes.

Volunteers doing cheer!
-Flag period.  When we get back from Flag, it is my time with my students every day until 8:30.  I use this time to practice our weekly cheer (which they get tested on for a conversation grade each Friday) or practice words of the week (spelling, reading, or phonics).  Our cheers are extra corny, but they are always reinforcing a concept.  This week we are practicing There is/There are, along with some phonics words and plurals.  These are all difficult concepts for the students and need constant reinforcement.  Cheers are done in partners and performed for me on Fridays.
In case you are interested, our amazing cheer this week, created by yours truly, is…

There is a snake!
The snake is long and green.
There is a skunk!
The skunk is white, black, and smelly.
There are snakes and skunks!
There are three snakes and four skunks.
Run! They are all in the woods!
(Our phonics words this week are smile, smell, smoke, stone, stop, stove, snake, snack, skate, skunk, swim, and Swiss)

Monday, January 20, 2014

I teach four periods on Mondays.  The glory in our periods is that I don’t ever have to think, Okay, period 3 is reading, period 4 is writing, period 6 is phonics, and period 7 is math.  Not ever going to happen.  I basically think of my periods as rolling.  One may roll into the next, which may roll into the next and that is normal.  In one period I may finish reading and move on to writing, or reading may take longer than a period.  This was slightly difficult to get used to at first, but I have made myself become flexible!  Like today for example..  I finished everything I had planned for Monday and grabbed some science for the last half hour of my last period.  I am free to do as I please when I teach and that is something I truly enjoy.

First thing on Monday is always spelling!  Each week I introduce six new words.  These words are taken from the Dolche sight words list and we are free to choose them as we wish as a team.  This week, some words are repeats because of constant errors we have seen in writing pieces.  Our spelling words this week are with, myself, their, your, because, and about.

Focus would live in a tree house!
Next, is reading.  I have a book called Very Easy Reading that I need to finish before the end of the school year, but I was behind because of midterms.  So, today I did units 12 and 13, and you bet my students gave me a hard time for it!  Very Easy Reading provides reading words, a short story, and comprehension questions.  Unit 12 is called Sally’s Room and the reading words are table, flower, purple, blanket, pretty, things, really, and soft.  Unit 13 is called Mike’s Bike and the reading words are wheel, bell, ride, bike, every day, hole, ringing, and fast.  Students are always assigned at least a page of homework out of VER and then we do a writing assignment, which I love.  
Ploy 2's house and bedroom

This week they were to:
1.  Think of what you would like your dream bedroom to be.  Describe it, design it, and draw it.
2.  Think of what you would like your dream house to look like.  Describe it, design it, and draw it.

Ploy 2's writing piece

We incorportate the designing and drawing as part of the activity because we are a STEM school.  We are constantly trying to get students to think outside the box and be creative in their learning.  After showing these prompts, I Googled some examples of abstract/innovative houses and bedrooms to get their minds working.  Look at some of the amazing work I got!

Getting excited about the earth
Like I said earlier, I had a bit of extra time in my last period, so I decided to introduce Earth.  We are beginning to explore the solar system in more detail on Thursday, and I gave them an introduction today!  First, I showed them a short, intense video showing the natural beauty of earth along with some severe weather that can occur. That hooked them! The students did a KWL chart and then I flew through a quick introduction PowerPoint.  They are so excited for this topic which in return makes me excited to teach it!

At the end of every day, I post on Facebook.  No, not to my own personal Facebook (well maybe to my own Facebook too), but to my “Teacher Facebook” as we call it.  I have my own teacher account and this is how I do most of my communicating with parents.  I love everything about it.  This is a way for parents to keep up with what is going on in class, and a less intimidating way for them to interact with me if they are nervous to try and speak English in person.  I post on this Facebook every day, excluding weekends, even if there is really nothing to write.  I post homework here.  I post when materials are needed for class.  I post school updates, upcoming days off, and about school events.  I post pictures of activities we do throughout the week.  I post our weekly cheer and words of the week.  You name it, you see it on Facebook.  Three of my students got glasses within the past two weeks and you bet, I took a picture of all of my students who wear glasses and put it on there.  A student’s birthday?  Yup!  If nothing exciting happens, I will simply post Happy Wednesday!  Parents can message me at any time if they have questions or concerns, and they do.  I thought I would mind, but it is nice to interact with the parents.  For example, last week, one mom messaged me to say that her daughter was in the hospital, that is why she missed school for two days.  She quickly followed by telling me that Ploy would make sure to get all of the work done that she missed that weekend. What?!?  No way!  In this situation, I was happy she reached out so I could tell her that doing the homework was not nearly as important as Ploy resting and getting better.  She was extremely thankful that I gave her a break but, of course, Ploy came in on Monday with her work done.  Thai culture.
My Facebook update on Tuesday the 21st
What my desk looks like Tuesday mornings
When Tuesday comes around, there is a lot of grading to do in my free time, and the week continues pretty similarly, but with different subjects. We get to do STEM projects on Wednesdays or Thursdays, which normally revolves around our science subject.  This week students will be creating the earth's layers with clay. By the end of the term, students will show the phases of the moon with oreos (shout out to Block 26!) and they will create a whole solar system for their final exam.

I cannot believe that time is going by so quickly!  My last day at Anuban is officially on March 10th.  There is so much to do and so little time!

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