17 September 2017

Share Your World - 17 September 2017

I haven't done one of these for a while, but this one was challenging. The beauty of this challenge is that there are no right or wrong answers.

Would you want $200,000 right now or $250,000 in a year? It’s safe to assume all money is tax free.
Interesting question. $200,000 right now would be very useful, not because I necessarily need it, but because it would be put to good use now, and who knows what might happen in a year.

Is it more important to love or be loved?
I think both are important. It's hard to love others if you aren't experiencing love yourself. On the flip side, when you love others then you are likely to receive a little love in return. Let's get out there and love people, even if they don't love us in return, because it's the right thing to do.

List things that represent abundance to you.
God's love, His peace, cash in the wallet, food on the table, and warm dry bed, and friends to spend time with.

What inspired you this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 
The children I see every school morning inspire me. They are so eager to learn, and to have fun learning. They come up to me and tell me there stories, and are full of questions. Yep, I'd have to say the children inspire me.

Feel free to Share Your World in the comments. All comments are moderated, and only genuine comments will be posted. Want to know more about this challenge. Check out Share Your World on Cee's Challenges.

A Holiday Project

I just discovered that it's almost two months since I posted. Life has been busy. Before school officially started I kept busy getting my office sorted (still in progress) and getting things ready for teachers. I also interviewed new students, and did my best to get things moving for the new library set up. That is still a work in progress, but we are getting there. The new teachers all arrived and have settled in to their classes, as have the returning teachers. We implemented a new "house" system and on Friday had our first "house" competition. That was primarily a secondary school event, but the elementary students did wear their house colours and wrist bands.

One of the projects I hoped to do over the summer break, but just did not get to, was reorganising our elementary teacher resource room. This week I have a whole week with no students in the school, so I thought it would be a good time to get this job done. The photos will help you understand why it's a "no students around" job.

The one on the left gives you an idea of the starting point. If you look closely you will see that there is quite a bit of order to it, but there is also quite a bit of chaos and stuff in boxes that are not very clearly labelled.

At the end of last year, I talked to teachers about what they would find useful in the resource room, and one thing I discovered was that most of them went to the library looking for non-fiction books for students to use for research instead of this room. I therefore decided that the non-fiction books will go back to the library, and our levelled reading resources (which teachers are using regularly) are being moved up to this room. There were also quite a lot of resources still in either the elementary library or the secondary library which were not getting used (most likely because teachers didn't know they existed or the treasure they contained). Those resources were all brought up to the Resource Room area on Friday, and I did a little work on sorting them out on Friday afternoon. Here's what they looked like when I left on Friday about 6pm. This is in a corridor that will eventually lead to classrooms in the centre building. 

Once I finished getting most of those sorted on Saturday, it was time to start moving stuff around. First I emptied a couple of bookshelves, one in the resource room and one in this corridor. Then I went to find someone to help me move the shelves. Our maintenance man was very helpful. Not only did he help me move the two shelves that were ready to move and one of the tables out to an area that is better lit, he also helped me move stuff from one shelf to another so we could move two more bookcases. Finally he went and found another very helpful young man to bring one more shelf up from the library. Thanks guys.

Already the room is looking better. I started work organising, sorting and shelving the books, and made quite a bit of progress. I've still got a long way to go, but I'm happy with the start that I've made. Hopefully by the end of the week, I'll have all the resources sorted and the room set up in a way that will make it easy for teachers to find the materials they need (or identify what we need to get if it isn't there). Here's what is waiting for me to go back to tomorrow! Levelled readers are sorted, and as I work I'm checking for damaged books and ones that need to be replaced.

One thing I really want to do is to make sure this room does not collect "junk". I will be asking teachers to only put things back in this room that they will definitely use them again. I'm fairly confident there are people out there who could use some of the materials that I'm not putting back. The challenge will be to find those people quickly as we get the school ready for our next accreditation visit.

The photos below, and the top left one in the photo on the left, show what I still have to sort out. As you can see there is a lot of "stuff" there as well as some very useful resources. Check back at the end of the week to see the progress!

So, am I going to have a holiday? Yes, I've already had one evening out with friends at a big shopping mall. We had dinner, and then went to see "Renegade". Good movie. We also did a bit of shopping. Today I'm enjoying a day at home, until it's time to go to church. I'm also looking forward to doing a little sewing tomorrow and having lunch with a friend who lives and works on the other side of town.

25 July 2017

Back to "normal"

With the start of a new school year fast approaching I thought I'd do a quick review of my "summer" holidays. When I last wrote I'd just finished moving into my new office although there was still a bit of setting up and unpacking of boxes to do.

On 22nd June I flew out of Phnom Penh and into Singapore, where I spent the night in an airport hotel before catching a somewhat crowded daytime flight to Brisbane. Thankfully the person in front of me didn't put their seat back for the entire flight so I was able to get some computer work done (attendance book completed and several hours work on a new bilingual mathematics dictionary). On arrival in Brisbane I cleared immigration and customs with a minimum of fuss and was met by my special friend, who took be back to my "home away from home". We enjoyed catching up and then I eventually found my winter pyjamas and enjoyed snuggling under blankets for the first time.

Saturday to Tuesday morning I was in Brisbane, getting settled back into Australia and doing the first of many jobs on the "to do" list. On Sunday evening I worked out how to use Google Maps on my phone so I didn't get lost going across town (did you know Google Maps has a directions feature that is just like a navigation system in your car - a lovely lady gives you the directions necessary to get to your location and you don't have to touch your phone during the whole journey). On Monday I went to visit Gerard at ITC Publications, who provided me with a very generous gift for our school. More of that in a later post. Followed a different route on the way home, including some tunnels, and somehow managed to leave the lights on! Next morning I had a flat battery. Fortunately my friend's son was home so I was able to take his car to my first appointment, and then he jump started mine when I was ready to leave for Toowoomba.

The trip to Toowoomba ended up being via the scenic route (via Rosewood, Grandchester, Laidley, Gatton, and Helidon) due to a nasty 3-vehicle accident on the Warrego Highway, but I arrived in plenty of time for my next appointment. I then spent Tuesday to Sunday in Toowoomba completing more tasks on my "to do" list (medical appointments, house inspection, and catching up with friends and supporters). That week I also finished off the on-line IPC (International Primary Curriculum) course that I was doing for school. Sunday morning I shared briefly in the service at South Toowoomba Baptist and then after a light lunch with my hosts, headed back to Brisbane.

On Tuesday 4th July I took the bus and two trains to Brisbane Airport and caught my flight down to Coffs Harbour. That flight took me on a trip down memory lane as the plane was very similar to those I used to fly in when I lived in Roma. The next nine days, staying with my Mum, were my "holiday" when I took time to make and colour a jigsaw, do lots of walking, spot whales and dolphins, make some cards, have a haircut, do some shopping, visited two churches, caught up with a few more people, and enjoy watching TV with Mum. My sister came to visit for a few days at the end as well, which was good, since I didn't get to see her last year.

On Thursday 13th July, Mum and I loaded up the car and drove to Brisbane, making a stop at the Macadamia Castle for a yummy lunch. It was a slower than usual trip due to the Woolgoolga to Ballina Highway Upgrade that is in progress. Mum dropped me off at my "home away from home" and headed across town to visit friends. On Saturday 15th July I spent most of the day at Chandler Aquatic Centre doing my AustSwim Teacher of Towards Competitive Strokes, including an hour or so in the heated outdoor pool! Thankfully it was a beautiful Brisbane winter's day and the heated water was quite pleasant, just a bit chilly getting out into the wind. On Sunday I attended the church that my family attended 35 years ago, and where the friends I stay with still attend.

From Monday to Friday I enjoyed slow starts to the day, and spent up to 2 and a half hours each day at Dunlop Park Memorial Swimming Pool, where I managed to complete the requisite 10 hours of observations I needed for my AustSwim course. I also worked reading the book from the course and completing the theory exams. I've still got quite a bit of reading and four on-line assessments to do before that is fully complete, but hopefully I can do that this week. I also had the fun of packing my suitcase for the return trip to Phnom Penh. With 15+ kg of donated resources for teachers, it was tight, but I ended up checking in with 29.8kg! Phew!

Saturday morning was a very early start (4.45am), leaving "home" at 5.30am to get to the airport. Thankfully this time my friend's husband was able to drive me so the trip that took 1.5 hours by public transport when I flew to Coffs Harbour took us just 25 minutes. Check-in ended up taking a little longer than anticipated because I was on the return leg of my journey (which the check-in person was a little concerned over - thankfully I already had a visa through to September and they let me on the flight). Airlines don't like people flying on one-way tickets lest the passenger is not allowed into the country they are flying to. Once through security and border control I did heaps of walking to make sure I got my steps up. A one hour stop over in Singapore and then in to Phnom Penh in the early evening (although for me it was more like 8.45pm).

Yes, I had a great summer, but I'm very happy to be home in Phnom Penh and getting back into my usual routines.

14 June 2017

Share your world - Double whammy - June 5 and 12 questions.

What’s your strongest sense?

I'm not sure I have one, but probably go with smell. I'm very sensitive to perfumes, even picking up with kids uniforms are washed or ironed with strongly perfumed products.

Which of Snow White’s 7 dwarfs describes you best? (Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey)

Depends on the day - sometimes I'm definitely Grumpy, but most of the time I try to be Happy.

If you could be one age for the rest of your life, what age would that be?

I'm enjoyed my late 40s and early 50s, so maybe 50 is a great age to be, settled in a great job, and at peace that I am where God wants me to be.

List of Jobs You Think You Might Enjoy: Even if you aren’t thinking about a career change, it can be fun to think of other jobs you might enjoy.  [Remember:  This is SYW where even your dreams can become reality.]

I might enjoy being a principal or deputy principal. I'm hoping I'll enjoy being an elementary coordinator (primary Grades 2-5) which I guess is a bit like a "deputy". I think I'd also enjoy being a full-time librarian, especially working a school library.

What do you do when you’re not working? If you are retired, what do you that is not part of your regular daytime routine?

Study, Facebook, play Scrabble, read books, occasionally watch a movie and do some cross-stitch, make some cards, and go for walks.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

Pay off the rest of the mortgage, invest some in my superannuation for the future, and establish some scholarships for the children of our Khmer staff at our school. They know the value of a good education, but find the fees are a struggle.

What makes you laugh the most?

A funny movie or a good book. Sometimes my students - especially when I muck around with them.

What is your biggest pet peeve with modern technology?

The pace of change. What I bought 3 years ago is out of date, and at times incredibly slow. I do have a second peeve with technology and that is the way that it impacts on face-to-face relationship time. I so often see people together at a restaurant/coffee shop and they aren't even communicating because they're playing with their devices. The same goes for parents who give kids devices all the time rather than spending time doing non-technology things with their kids.

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I'm grateful that the end of the school year went well, and I'm looking forward to heading to Australia for some cool weather and time with family and friends.

Share Your World - Friday 26th May 2017

Life's been totally crazy with the end of the school year, plus Professional Development activities, so I'm somewhat late posting this, but better late than never.

What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? 
Some day I'd like to ride the Indian Pacific Railway from Sydney to Perth, and also the Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin.
How often do you get a haircut?
Once a year, when I'm in Australia.
In regards to puzzle what’s your choice: jigsaw, crossword, word search or numeric puzzles?
I enjoy them all. Crosswords are great to challenge the brain, jigsaws are great for holidays, I give my students word searches most weeks to help them learn their spelling words, and I do enjoy the occasional Sudoku.
How many cities have you lived? You can share the number of physical residences and/or the number of cities.
Six cities (Melbourne, Townsville, Brisbane, Roma, Toowoomba and Phnom Penh), two states of Australia (Victoria and Queensland), two countries (Australia and Cambodia), and eleven physical residences (2 in Melbourne, 2 in Townsville (if I count boarding school for a year), 2 in Brisbane (not counting house-sitting), 3 in Roma (nurses' quarters, friend's place, plus my own place), 2 in Toowoomba, and 4 in Phnom Penh.
Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I'm grateful the opportunity to learn heaps more about the International Primary Curriculum, and I'm looking forward to heading to Australia in the coming week. This time next week I'll be on my way!!!!

School's out

Another school year is over. School officially finished on Friday afternoon at 2.30pm. We had a good day, and the children went home with a bag of goodies, including a new book to read and a memory page, plus a bouncy ball and a sticky stretchy creature, a few lollies, and whatever they chose to buy with their "tickets". We also enjoyed ice-cream and movies. The day before they helped me start packing up my classroom by pulling most of the posters off the walls, and I sent home all their workbooks and notebooks. Alas, I still had work to do! First I have to finish the documentation to handover to their grade 5 teachers. I also had to finish designing our new Elementary Library, and prepare detailed documentation of the new furniture we will need so it can be made while we are away for the summer break. The other massive job was to pack up my classroom, sort out what I would leave for the new teacher and what would go with me to my new office, pack everything that had to be moved, and organise for the move to happen.

I just realised that some of you reading this might be wondering why I am moving out of my classroom and into an office. After ten and a half years of teaching, I'll be exploring a new role next year as Elementary Coordinator (Primary - Grades 2 to 5). I'll be working closely with the other Elementary Coordinator who will be responsible for our Early Years programs (Nursery to Grade 1). Together we will be trying to replace the Elementary Principal who has just left. Some of my key responsibilities will be reviewing curriculum and supporting staff as they implement the curriculum. I'll also be work on our WASC self-study for our next Accreditation visit, which is due in 2019.

Back to today. I finally finished packing everything at about 5pm yesterday, having run out of boxes on several occasions! This morning, four young men were waiting for me to arrive to carry out the move. First they moved a number of items out of the office, then they moved all my stuff into the office. While they were working on that, I went and did an interview with a prospective new student. When I finished that, I returned to my old classroom to discover it was almost completely moved (only a couple of things left which they possibly didn't know needed to be moved). I went downstairs (my new office is on the third floor). I was very satisfied with their work. Here's what my office looked like at 11.30am today!

I plugged away throughout the day, and managed to sort the boxes the contain my classroom library from the rest and put them to one side to deal with in July, when I come back from Australia. I then managed to unpack most of the rest of the boxes. I hit a glitch when I couldn't find the shelf supports to go inside my cupboard, which I knew I'd put in a safe place. They were found eventually, and so I've got one cupboard sorted! The big bookshelf needs some work, but I did manage to sort a lot of stuff as I unpacked it, so that's not too bad. In fact, there are quite a lot of things that still need homes, but the photo below shows just what I did achieve. Tomorrow I'm planning to do a few other jobs, then Friday I'll tackle the office again and see if I can get it to a point where I can be productive with a few other jobs that need to be finished.

19 May 2017

Share Your World - Friday 19th May 2017

Time for another round of Share Your World. The original posts are much earlier in the week, but I'm thinking Friday evening is a good time for me to do this, so here are this week's questions with my answers.
How many languages do you you speak?
One, English, but I can speak enough Khmer to get me around and navigate shopping in the markets. I wish I had more, but time for language study hasn't been high on my list of priorities unfortunately. Teaching, planning, preparing, marking and studying have a way of eating up your time.
What are you reading, watching, listening to, eating?
Reading: Kicking Eternity by Ann Lee Miller (a Kindle freebie)
Watching: Nothing - the TV is almost never on
Listening to: The sounds of fans whirring - it's been another hot humid tropical day
Eating: Fresh pineapple - deliciously sweet!
What was the last photo you took with your phone?
My main phone doesn't have a camera, and the only photos I have taken on my mini-tablet/phone were evidence of a student's violent behaviour taken a number of months ago. Thankfully that doesn't happen very often. On my pocket camera that lives in my handbag the last photos were of my students constructing boats entirely out of recycled materials. They did a great job.
What is your favourite time of day?
Bedtime, when I put the air-conditioning on and take my Kindle and do a little reading before sleeping. I've also been enjoying walking time in the late afternoons early evenings lately.
Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 
Well first of all I'm grateful we had a four day weekend last weekend, during which I snuck in some pampering. Love that I had a manicure & pedicure, plus hair wash (complete with scalp massage) for just $10 on Tuesday afternoon. An occasional treat. Secondly, I'm also grateful for e-mail and prompt and helpful responses from AustSwim about license renewal and professional development. Finally I'm grateful for a visit from a professional librarian who was able to make some really helpful suggestions for designing a new elementary library.

What I'm looking forward to in the coming week is having my report cards finished, and getting to work on the nuts and bolts of the design of our new elementary library.