25 August 2013

Post 300 - Farewell Summer Break

This post marks a landmark on my blog. It is post number 300. I hope all those who read it enjoy the glimpses they get of my life, mostly here in Cambodia but occasionally in other places. I look forward to writing more once school resumes for the students in one week!

Meanwhile, teacher orientation and preparation week starts tomorrow.

This last week has just flown by, with most of my time focused on two tasks.

Most teachers would be familiar with taking "running records" to assess student reading. This summer one of my projects has been updating our resources for this. There's been a lot of downloading, printing, and photocopying done, and there's still some laminating and then a lot of filing to be done before that job is complete, but it is well and truly on the way. My goal is to have that job finished by the end of the week, but I am somewhat dependent on other people to get that done.

The second task was one that has saved our principal a heap of work, and hopefully will make staff quite a bit happier. The principal, one of the Khmer teachers and I made some decisions about a baseline supply list, and the Khmer teacher and I went to the markets and got some prices. Later that day I went back to the markets on my own and placed the initial order. It was a big order, and was delivered the next day. With over 2000 books to be sorted and allocated, as well as other materials, I spent most of Saturday working on it. However I'm hoping the result will be a happy principal and happy staff. It won't be everything they want or need, but it will be a starting point. We'll see what sort of reactions we get tomorrow.

So now, I've got a few jobs to do and then I'm off to bed. Need to get a good night's sleep so I can be up bright and early tomorrow. Getting excited!

18 August 2013

One week to go!

It's hard to believe there is just one more week of "summer" holidays. Yes, this time next week I'll be getting ready for our Orientation week. At the end of this coming week I will have had eight weeks of "holidays". So how did I fill those eight weeks?

The first few days were spent getting my classroom ready for the break, and chasing up some outstanding photocopying for the next school year. Then I packed my bags and headed to Singapore for 5 nights, and Bangkok for 6 nights. I had a lovely time in Singapore and I need to write some individual posts about my time there (and share some of the photos), but in brief it included catching up with friends from Youth Choir days, visiting the Gardens by the Bay, the "Mummy" display at the Art Science Museum, Singapore Zoo, Singapore Night Safari, Jurong Bird Park, and the Singapore Botanic Gardens (including the National Orchid Garden). Singapore was a feast of cleanliness and greenery, although a little expensive. I will return. Bangkok was mostly time to just relax and enjoy the shops. I did make time for a medical checkup while there, but really just enjoyed lots of walking in air-conditioned shopping centres.

Once I returned to Phnom Penh I started doing half days at school, working on unit plans and preparation for the coming year. It was good to do these things without the pressure of needing to teach them immediately, and also to do some sorting, cleaning and tidying. There were a few days when I had a whole day off, and when I enjoyed being in the classroom the whole day. I also made time to catch up with friends, and do stuff I don't have time for during the school year.

I've got one more week of working at my own pace and then it will be "Orientation" week, filled with meetings, tracking down resources, planning with my colleagues and getting ready for the children to arrive. I'm feeling rested and ready for the year to begin, even if I haven't done all I wanted to do over the "summer". It's been a productive time, but also a relaxed time, and I'm happy with the choices I've made about how to spend this "summer". The next big holiday to look forward to is Christmas/New Year down under! :)

Farewell Booksneeze

For quite a while I enjoyed the privilege of writing book reviews for Booksneeze, a program where I received a free copy of a book in return for writing a review and posting it on this blog. Booksneeze have recently changed their requirements for bloggers, no doubt due to the demand for the program, and I no longer qualify. To qualify I'd need 30+ visible followers of my blog, and I have to be posting at least weekly. Alas, that means I won't be doing any more Booksneeze reviews. It doesn't mean I'll cease blogging or cease reviewing books on my blog but I want to say thanks to the "Booksneeze" program for the books I did receive and review. These days it's easier for me to get new books to read, thanks to my Kindle, and the availability of so many books for it either free or at minimal cost.

Farewell Booksneeze. It was great being part of you. I'm sure you'll continue to bless others who have more time for reading and writing than I do.

16 August 2013

Cambodian Ingenuity

A few weeks ago I was tidying my office at home, when I managed to snap all the supports on my stacking paper trays. This was very sad as part of the support remained inside the tray and I couldn't get it out, while I had no way of separating the trays (they weren't the kind that lock together.

Today I purchased some new trays, thinking I could use the old ones at school in situations where I didn't need them to stack, but needed to keep stuff together. Anyway, when I got home I had an idea, and so I headed to the hardware section of the local market, with sample in hand. I showed a few people what I wanted and a few said no, so I keep looking. Anyway, one man pointed me across the aisle to a lady who was selling all kinds of hinges, and door fittings. She very quickly found some door hooks which were exactly the right diameter, pulled out a pair of bolt cutters and chopped of the ends to the correct length. Perfect, so I got her to do another seven. I probably paid foreigner price for it, but it was worth it to be able to use the file trays properly, saving valuable bench space in the classroom, and these won't snap in a hurry!