26 August 2009

Peace, glorious peace

Oh boy, I think the party that has been going on right outside my gates is finally over. Not bad, it's only 10.15pm. Hooray. The music was so loud the inside windows upstairs were vibrating. Fortunately I got an SMS warning me about it before I left school, so I just stayed a little later than usual and then left the moto at school (since I couldn't have got it into the house without creating havoc) and a good friend picked me up and brought me home. Actually I only had to listen for about 30 minutes, but that was long enough for the peace to be very welcome.

So what else has been going on. Well, it's definitely rainy season. Yesterday morning it actually started to pour rain about 10 minutes before I had to leave the house, and it didn't stop so I had to put the wet weather gear on or arrive at school looking like a drowned rat. Here's a photo of me just about to leave. Actually I was still pretty dry when I got to school (under the rain coat - which is actually a huge poncho that goes on over the top of the backpack. The hood has to go on under the helmet or I'd end up with water running down the back of my neck - not a pleasant experience.) By 8am it has just about stopped, but not before the driveway at school was an inch or two deep in water!

Tomorrow I'm on staff devotions, and I'm thinking of having a simple time of praise and worship. I sometimes feel totally adequate in the face of staff who have Bible College training or who were educated at Christian universities in the US, but I know that's not what is important. What's important is that I'm here because God called me here, and because He gives me the strength to continue. I'm thinking a couple of worship songs, then break into small groups, but with the focus being solely on praising God, for who He is, for what He has done for us, and for what He is doing both at Logos and in the rest of Cambodia. So having made that decision, I guess I'd better go and print out some songs so I can make overheads in the morning instead of wasting paper.

The party is definitely over, and sleep is a distinct possibility now.

Good night!


23 August 2009

Easy to tell school is underway

Sorry folks, life's been hectic as it usually is once school is underway. I'm enjoying the kids, and we have been doing some fun things together, as well as establishing classroom routines and expectations. Hard to believe two weeks have already passed, and this Friday is "Back to School Night" - a chance for parents to meet the teacher and find out what's planned for the year. I won't get home to after 8pm on Friday!

This weekend's frustration was spending the whole day at home waiting for the Landlord to come and do a small repair in the bathroom, only to have him ring after 6pm and say he was sorry he had been busy, and could he come tomorrow. Eventually we agreed he would come that evening, and while one urgent problem is fixed, the one which I requested a repair on some weeks ago is still waiting for finalisation. Please Lord, I need to be more patient.

Then, after finally deciding to get my own internet service at home, a friend made a call for me, only to discover that there were only 6 connections available in this area and they are all used up. Oh the joys of living in Cambodia.

On a positive note I did get a newsletter out this weekend, and I did enjoy reading Frank Peretti's "Monster", which was my relaxation for the weekend. I do love a good suspense story.

OK, I've got a 6.30am start tomorrow so it's past time I was in bed. Have a good week.


13 August 2009

One day to go!

Before the first week of school is officially over that is! It's been a good week, and I'm beginning to get to know the children. Their names are coming more easily this year, and I think that comes with having chatted with their previous teacher and getting a heads up on pronunciations before they actually arrived in the classroom. I also know some of the faces from the playground, and I'm making good progress, except for Phoebe, whom I have called Evelyn (her older sister's name) on a number of occasions - ooops, I apologise to her, but I really must work hard on that one because names are important. I'm getting some of the other girls mixed up as well, but they are all being patient with me.
I had a surprise visit from the Elementary Principal this morning, during my second Language Arts session. As I mentioned to him later, he was fortunate to actually catch me teaching a formal lesson, as most of the early part of the week has been informal or testing. What he did catch was me introducing Reading Response posters. I got these through Scholastic Book Clubs last year, and had been saving them as a great way to start the year. I'm really looking forward to seeing which books the children choose to write/draw about, and to reading/viewing their thoughts and ideas.
Tomorrow I plan to introduce them to their Journals, and to journal writing using the Six Thinking Hats as a reflection tool. I will also be discussing the "Ideas" component of the 6 + 1 Writing Traits. Should be fun. Then we also get to do Buddy Reading tomorrow with Kindergarten (at least I hope we do). Both classes really enjoyed it last year. There will be lots of other things happening tomorrow as well, so I guess I'd better finish up, and get some sleeeeeppp!!!
Hope you're enjoying this.

10 August 2009

One down, many more to go!

What do you get when you put 20 children in one classroom with a teacher and an assistant? Organised chaos! Not really. Actually we had a good day, although it was a little frustrating to be missing 20% of the class. At least I had no students in tears today, unlike my housemate who teachers pre-school 3 year olds and had 4 of them in tears. Hopefuly tomorrow we'll be down to one missing student, and since he's not expected until September sometime it will a matter of just getting on with the job! As I anticipated, I completed a fraction of the tasks that I had planned to do, but that's OK. Better that, than running out of things to do and have bored children on my hands. I now know who all my students will be, and am finally able to print labels, and finalise the filing cabinet and class lists. Tomorrow will be another busy day, so I'm heading to bed very soon, but I wanted to let those who are reading this know that day one went well. Thanks to all who have been praying. Karen

09 August 2009

Ready, set, GO!

In just a little more than eight hours the first day of school (for the 2009-2010 school year) will be underway. The classroom is ready (well almost, but hopefully cleaner will be in bright and early so I can finish it off. Hopefully I can snap a few photos once it's finally ready.
Eventually I'll be welcoming 24 students into my 4th grade classroom, along with my new teaching assistant (well, he's already been welcomed), however tomorrow there will only be 20. Two students will return on Tuesday, and another won't arrive until sometime in September, and there's still one place to be finally allocated. Hopefully by the end of the week I'll have everyone's names at least so I can finalise grade books etc.
I have a plan for the day, which is partly dependent of getting some photocopying done before school (so let's hope the copier doesn't go on strike through overwork!). Actually if I get through all I have planned for tomorrow it will be a miracle, but that's what first days are always like. Hopefully I have enough tasks organised for students to keep them busy while I manage some individual time with each student. Later in the week we'll be getting started on some fun projects, but tomorrow is mostly getting to know you and testing activities. Mondays are good days (even if I don't get any prep periods), since we have Khmer/Computers, and Library/Swimming. I'll be teaching the Computers and Library. Just as well I don't have to teach Khmer or no-one would learn anything, although I did impress our security staff today when I was able tell them I had already eaten in their own language! Well they all smiled at me anyway. I love practising what little Khmer I do know, and our Khmer staff are very willing to help me.
Church this afternoon was good, with a reminder of the importance of forgiveness, both to the person who needs to forgive and the person who is forgiven. The important thing for me to remember is that in forgiving others we set ourselves free.
Well, that's it for today. Time to clean the teeth and head for bed so I'm bright eyed & bushy tailed in the morning. Oh, and cheerful not grumpy goes down well too!

07 August 2009

Starting to Look Like a Classroom

Well today was an interesting day, and if it wasn't as productive as I had hoped, it was certainly worthwhile. We started off with devotions, then moved into administrative stuff, mainly for the US staff. After that we worked through the Child Protection Policy. This very important document was reviewed and discussed and then copies of the agreement distributed for signing. Working with children is a huge responsibility. They are trusted to us by the Lord and their parents, and it is very important that our school, and especially our classrooms are safe places for them to be.
After a short break for a healthy snack of pineapple & watermelon, the upper elementary (Gr 4 & above) and middle & high school teachers had a short workshop on the PDP Cornell note-taking methodology, and discussed how we can implement it into our classrooms. Much of it linked well with guided reading practices in elementary classrooms, but in this case the idea is to get the kids doing independent in their reading/note-taking skills. By the way PDP stands for Pre-During-Post, and it comes out of a uni in the US. I was quite excited by it, because it links perfectly with the fact that part of my fourth grade curriculum is research, so this is a great tool for me to use to help the kids develop their research skills.
After lunch it was off to the new school to see the progress. It's so exciting to see how much progress has been made, and to start visualising ourselves in real classrooms. Then it was back to school to get more stuff done. I do have bulletin boards started and some "welcome" signs in place, but there is lots to do tomorrow if I'm going to be ready for the children to arrive on Monday! I think I need to make a list of things to do when I get to school in the morning so I can cross them off when they are completed!
Meanwhile it's time for bed. No good starting without a good night's rest.
That's all folks!

06 August 2009

Frustration (with myself)

Do you ever have days when you wish you could start all over again? I do! I've just been reminded (again!) that what I say doesn't always come across the way I intend it to, and generally when that happens, what comes out is much harsher that I mean it to be. This is something I really struggle with, because I don't want to hurt people, and I don't want to offend others, but I am often simply too honest and blunt with what I say or how I say it.

What hurts me most when this happens is that it's often not the person concerned who comes to me about things, but usually a third person. Am I really so hard to deal with / scary that people can't come directly to me? Apparently some people think so. I find this really unhelpful, and wish that people would follow Jesus instructions in Matthew 18:15 and speak directly with me rather than involving other poeple. Even at a Christian school that doesn't always happen.

I know James was pretty tough on people who couldn't control their tongues, saying their religion is worthless (James 1:26), and gives pretty explicit instruction on taming the tongue in chapter 3, but I hope that is balanced by 1 John 1:9 where John assures us of God's forgiveness if we confess our sins & seek forgiveness. It's days like this that I have to remember that I am still a "work in progress".

Meanwhile school starts in just 3 days and I have so much to do I can't believe I spent as much time here in the summer as I did. People who have had less time have got much more done than I have. I guess I'd better stop procrastinating and go home and prioritise what I'm going to do tomorrow (after all the meetings are over).


05 August 2009

First Day for Returning Teachers

Yes, I have officially started work! These last days before the students return on Monday will be very busy.

One of the items on the agenda today was a workshop/in-service on the 6 + 1 Traits of Writing. This tool to help teachers and students develop strong writing through direct teaching, dialogue, and assessment of student work, is a required strategy for the school. Unfortunately for me I've been here for 2 1/2 year and this is the first chance I've had to actually do a workshop on it (no-one's fault, just one of those things), although I have been using bits of it in the classroom. It's been really interesting doing the workshop this morning, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning when we do the other half.
This afternoon was sign-up for extra-curricular duties, as well as allocation of professional learning groups. I've managed to step away from the sound side of things this year, and am going to stretch myself by helping with Middle School Girls volleyball. I'm also going to be co-ordinating the Scholastic Book Club program across the school, with help from one of the Khmer Teaching Assistants (actually I hope it will be help from more than one person, at least when it comes to placing orders). I will also be leading one of the Professional Learning Groups, which really just means facilitating meetings and encouraging everyone to do the required "observations". Personally I think that the requirement to do one a month is too much, but I guess I'll have to encourage it, and do my best to help it happen. Given that last year a number of us didn't even do one observation, it will be interesting to see what happens.
Well tomorrow is another day, and I've got a few things still to do tonight, so I'd better get on with it. Karen

04 August 2009


One of the joys (or frustrations) or working in an International School is the melting pot of accents that you experience. In our school we have lots of Asians (Cambodian, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani, Malaysian, Singaporean, Chinese, Vietnamese & Filipino0) then we have the Americans and Canadians, and then we have the Aussie (that's me). Challenging for the kids I'm sure, but it gets very annoying very quickly when Canadians try to do what they consider an Aussie accent (which we don't have anyway!!!). I think I'll ignore the perpetrator next time he does it until he speaks to me normally? Lord, grant me patience, please, but do it quickly!!!

03 August 2009

Last days of freedom

Oh No! This time next week school will have started. First day will be over, and I'll have started the process of learning the correct names (and pronunciation) for my 24 new students. Still, that's still six days away, and that means I've got just 5 days to make sure I'm ready to go! Today I found my desk again, and created some sort of order on it, and in the desk drawers and filing cabinet, but I still have four student desks covered in all sorts of "stuff" that must be gone through and put away or thrown out tomorrow!!! Nothing like a deadline to help me stay on task! It was also good to see some more returning teachers arrive today! Welcome back folks.
Finally got the painting finished on Sunday. A big thanks are due to the two guys from the school who did the bulk of the work, although I did have a sore hand and arm after a day and a half of helping out! Still, it was worth it. It looks so fresh and clean, and the house even looks back to it's normal state again after our helper put a few things back in their right places today. She really is a treasure. I'd find life here in Cambodia much more difficult without her. Praise God for a reliable, trustworthy, cheerful house helper.

Yesterday (Sunday) it was also great to have another visitor from our home church, and to share a meal with her and her daughter (who lives in Cambodia too). I'm looking forward to showing them our current school tomorrow, and to sharing another meal with them.
And I just got confirmation of more visitors coming at the end of this month or early next, so that's something else to look forward too.

Well, I'd better finish off, and get some sleep, ready for another busy day tomorrow. Staff meetings & in-services start at 9am on Wednesday morning, so what doesn't get done tomorrow is going to have to be squeezed in between meetings etc. G'night.

01 August 2009

More Painting & "The Shack"

Oh the joys and frustrations of painting in Cambodia. I was sure I had requested that 2 more lots of coloured paint be ordered, but was told this afternoon (when we were almost out) that no mor had been ordered. Fortunately a phone call to our facilities manager resolved the issue, and we made good progress. Hopefully it will be finished tomorow because the start of school is fast approaching!

My "light" reading at the moment is a book called "The Shack". If you haven't read it, I strongly recommend you do. This amazing story (I think it's fiction) challenges the reader to a new consideration of just who God is, what He has done for us, and how we respond to him. I'd love to write more, but I'm falling asleep over the computer, but be watching for more about "The Shack".


PS. (Monday morning) Now I've got a whole container of paint left over!!! And they probably won't take it back! Hmmm. I did want outside my classroom painted (they did inside). Maybe I'll say if I supply the paint it can be done this week. Karen