Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Importance of Schema- SOL

Huh? What is going on? Really? Again?…I had just returned from a quick errand to find that I was locked out of my apartment. This is not the first time this has happened, but what was strange is that this time I remembered my keys, only my key would not open my door. Seriously? I must have been doing something wrong. Nope…I was turning the key correctly, yet it wasn’t working.

Let me give you a little background knowledge on my situation. I live in China. I don’t speak Chinese. My landlord doesn’t speak English. This makes for a complicated situation when I am in need of assistance.

Remaining calm, I called a few friends to see if they could offer any helpful tips, but none of them answered their phones. I then called Julie, my Chinese friend, to explain the situation and seek advice. It was then that I realized the importance of schema.

Julie had helped me change my locks a couple of months ago when I fired my ayi (housekeeper). She had given both me and my landlord a new key. In addition to those 2 keys, she had also given me a pack of 6 extra keys. In preparation for my new ayi tomorrow, I had tried one of the 6 extra keys in the door to check if it worked (it did). During our phone conversation, Julie revealed that using one of the 6 extra keys makes the first 2 keys stop working. Hmmm…this information would have been useful when she gave me the keys, right? In China, apparently this is the norm. You have 2 keys to give to repairmen, construction workers, etc. and once you are ready to move in, you use the second set of keys to avoid having to collect keys or change your locks. Great idea, but not how it works in the U.S. Julie’s schema was different than mine, and she made the assumption that we have similar schemata when it comes to keys. It made me realize that I should be acutely aware of my schema versus my students’ schemata when I am teaching. I shouldn’t assume they will know what I am talking about because they may have different experiences.

OK, back to the lock out. The ONLY person with one of the 6 keys was my new ayi who is supposed to start working tomorrow. I have never met her and I don’t have her phone number (I realized that this is a problem). A colleague referred her to me and gave her my address and key. I called my colleague, who then called my ayi. Luckily she was able to come over and let me in. So, on the plus side, I have now met my ayi. 🙂 I gave her 100 RMB for her troubles, and thanked her profusely (in Chinese, of course). I just realized that I learned another lesson tonight. I should give some of those extra keys to my friends in case I get myself into another predicament like this!

Days Like Today- SOL

I love days like today. Days where I am bursting with energy, ready to tackle anything that comes my way. Days where my students are on fire and their enthusiasm for learning bubbles over into all that we do. Days when my students work together as one, lending a hand and pushing each other’s thinking. Days when reading workshop happens so effortlessly that you wonder, “Am I even needed?” Students self-selecting just right books, telling me how much they love the book they’re reading, and choosing all on their own to buddy read with our new ESL student who speaks little English because “I can help him. I can read to him.” Guided reading discussions that go within and beyond the text, students supporting one another and offering language support, and a few laughs along the way. Yes, days like these are what I live for as a teacher. When you reflect on the day and know that today your students learned. Today your students succeeded.  Today your students had fun.  And you know what?  So did I!

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?!?- SOL

Has this ever happened to you? You plan for something to turn out one way, but it turns out completely different than you had planned. Well, I have!

I teach upper elementary for a reason. I love their independence, the ability they possess to follow directions, their common sense…the list goes on and on. Why then did I volunteer to teach a cooking class to Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten children? I’m not entirely sure.

Yesterday was my very first cooking class. We made scrambled eggs and French toast. With the class scheduled for an hour and a half, I wondered what I was going to do with ALL that time…boy was I wrong…we barely finished by the time they had to be picked up! Some of the highlights of my afternoon included LOTS of questions, raw eggs splattered in their hair, pureed bananas instead of sliced ones because it  was so much fun to chop, one little girl who cried the whole time because she wanted her mommy, LOTS of hugs, oh, and the best one…When my back was turned, a 4 year old boy decided it would be a great idea to crush the egg shells and dump them into the egg mixture that we were using to dip our bread into for the French toast! Seriously! I asked him why he did that, but he just smiled and said, “I don’t know!” Of course you don’t. All in all it was an adventure, but I am definitely rethinking next week’s game plan!

Don’t get me wrong, they are seriously adorable kids, but I’m pretty sure my patience would run out if I taught that age group all the time. Kudos to any teacher who teaches first grade and younger!

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!- SOL

Don’t you just love Mo Willem’s books? I certainly do! His pigeon books are the my personal favorites. The pictures and text are simplistic, yet draw you in time and time again. I love how they invite the reader to join in and talk back to the text, urging the pigeon NOT to drive the bus (usually by yelling “NOOOO!” at the top of their lungs).

Last week was Literacy Week at my school, and as the Literacy Coach, I had a lot to do! Well…”a lot” is putting it mildly, but you get the point. Anyway, one of the activities that brightened each day was being able to dress up as a storybook character and read aloud to various classes throughout the school from the toddlers to the fifth graders. I was The Cat in the Hat, Ira from Ira Sleeps Over, Fancy Nancy, Owen, and my fave, The Pigeon! If you think reading the pigeon books as a teacher is engaging, try reading them dressed up as the pigeon himself (or herself…I’m still trying to figure out the pigeon’s gender).
As The Pigeon, I got to…
*YELL really LOUDLY!
*Persuade the kids to let me drive the bus or stay up late with a sweet voice and a little eyelash fluttering thrown in for good measure (didn’t work!)
*Pout (see above picture)
*Cry dramatically
*Storm off in a huff
Do I even have to tell you how the kids reacted? As you can imagine, they loved it! I didn’t leave any class without reading at least three pigeon books. Although my voice was hoarse at the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Oh, and it’s been great seeing little ones around campus this week. I’ve answered to “The Pigeon,” “Fancy Nancy,” “The Blue Bird,” and “The Hat in the Cat.” Gotta love kids, right?!? My job is the coolest! 🙂

I’m so excited to join the wonderful writing community in the March “Slice of Life Challenge” at Two Writing Teachers! Here’s my 1st slice!