23 December 2010

School's finished for 2010

Hooray for holidays! Yes, we have two whole weeks off school. I think the thing I'm looking forward to most is sleeping in past 6am. Even on Christmas Day I can at least sleep until 8am if I want to. Yes!

So what did the last week of school look like here in Cambodia. I can assure you it was very different to the last week of school in an Australian school.

To start with, this is just a short break, not our main holidays. Those come in July-August. That means we are not packing up classrooms and storing everything away, or anything like it. We'll be back at work again on 10th January, and in the time in between I have heaps of things to do! Lots of planning to do for the rest of the year, including meeting with the other grade 3 teacher and planning a new approach to Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Instead of me teaching all the maths, and Nadia teaching all the Science/SOSE, we will both teach some maths and our own classes for the other subjects. At this stage the plan is to stream the mathematics classes, so Nadia will teach the more able students while I work with those who find maths more difficult. Actually the cut off point was really quite fine, and not all the students in Nadia's group can be considered brilliant math students. It will be interesting to see how it works out. I'm looking forward to only 21 sets of Math papers to grade instead of 43, and also to teaching some integrated units where we incorporate some of our Science and/or SOSE into our Language Arts activities.

So what did we do the last week of school. Actually, it was a pretty normal week. Students started disappearing for the holidays early in the week, and I did receive one delicious gift (along with a very beautiful one) on Tuesday from a student leaving that evening. I continued teaching activities pretty much as usual until today, even having a math test on Wednesday afternoon! What a mean teacher I am. Not really. This afternoon I was able to hand the tests back, with feedback, then students had fun with Multiplication Flash Cards.

As East-West is a secular school in a non-Christian country, I was guided by the principal to actually do nothing in terms of "Christmas" activities. Originally I had planned some simple ways of sharing my faith with the children, but on her advice/request I chose not to do that. Some other classes did some things, and some had gift exchanges. At the end of the day, I told the children that I preferred to give them other things which benefit the whole class, such as our classroom library. While sometimes Christmas seems to be all about "gifts", and it is true that Christians take this time to celebrate the greatest gift that we have ever been given, I'm slowly learning that there are other ways to share Christmas and it's true meaning with the children. God will use me, and give me the opportunities that He has planned for me to share His love with the children in my care in ways that are culturally appropriate and sensitive.

Having said that, I want to share a precious "gift" that I received today from one of my students. Here are some photos of it. It is something I will always treasure.
The student who made this card says almost nothing in class, but I know she is learning because she turns in the most amazing written work, and regularly gets 100% on Mathematics tests. She is very sweet, and I have grown to love her greatly. I pray that one day she will discover her voice in English, and I know that when she does, she will bless many around her.

So what will Christmas look like in Cambodia this year? You will just have to check back on Boxing Day to find out. I know it will be a great time to remember why Christmas means so much to me, and to pray that others will come to know the One whose birth we celebrate, because of His death & resurrection.

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