Category Archives: Uncategorized

FREE Professional Development Course on Designing Online Learning!

Hi everyone! There’s a FREE online PD course, Designing for Online Learning, that will run from 23-30 March. They say it’s about a 45-60 minute/day commitment. Normally the course is $150 USD, but it’s free to all educators who register by Sunday 7pm ET, until it’s full. I just registered! Go to this website if you are interested:

https://globalonlineacademy.org/what-we-do/educator-courses/designing-for-online-learning

Goals of the workshop:

Story

“I want people to know your story.”

This quote, among others, resonated with me last night when I watched A Private War, a movie based on the true story of Marie Colvin, a war correspondent who courageously went to the frontlines of war-torn countries to write the stories behind the wars, to know and tell people’s stories in a way that would make others care to listen and take action.

To me, this is the essence of the Slice of Life Challenge. Through our stories, people get to know and care about one another. People want to know your story, and by telling it in an authentic and honest way, they become connected to you and invested in your story.

Through speaking our truth, we reveal ourselves and make genuine connections. Putting the words on the page takes courage, as we might not get it right all the time. Writing our stories is essentially putting ourselves out there for the world to see. Some parts may be pretty, others may not, but that’s real life.

This year I haven’t put myself out there as much as I have in the past. My stories have been more on the superficial, easygoing side. As we glide into the second half of this challenge, I’m going to strive to speak my truth and tell my story in an authentic way, because I want people to know my story.

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Sweet Reina #sol16 27 of 31

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That sweet face right there is none other than Miss Reina Mei, the cutest baby in Africa! I am going to miss all of our snuggles and laughs we shared this week. Reina is the daughter of my good friends Mel and T. I have FaceTimed plenty of times with Reina and seen tons of pictures of her cute, squishy face, but meeting her in person was such a treat!

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Reina’s one of those babies that would make you want to have a baby, because you’d be lulled into this false reality where you think all babies are so easygoing, happy 24/7, sleep when it’s time to sleep, wake up when it’s time to wake up, etc. Not only is she an easy baby, she is so much fun to play with! We spent so much time giggling because her laugh is so contagious. My favorite thing to do was tickle her. She gets this big smile on her face and tenses up, but she doesn’t really laugh out loud when you tickle her. She holds her breath til it’s over, but is loving every minute of it.

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We went up to Mel’s school on Thursday for Sports Day, but we arrived a little early, just in time for story time! Reina was right in there with the big kids, listening to the story. Mel’s students loved her to death, and it was hard to keep them focused once she arrived! At dismissal time, they all crowded around her to talk to her, make her laugh, and coo at her. How could you not when she’s so stinkin’ cute?!?

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Reina and I got to spend a lot of time together during the week while Mel was at work. The other morning, I was blogging, and Reina was on the couch behind me. I kept hearing her making noises to get my attention, and when I’d turn around, I’d see her leaned over looking at me with the biggest grin ever! 🙂

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Her eyes melt me every time…especially when she looks up at me like that!

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Reina loves to sit on poppa’s shoulders and pull his hair! I’m pretty sure it’s her favorite pastime. Poppa doesn’t mind, and even encourages her by saying “Don’t pull my hair!” in silly voices.

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Reina is so good on car trips! We took a long ride out of Dakar (3 hours) on Saturday, and she either played or slept the whole way, despite the heat and length of the ride. All of the adults were more crabby than she was! Look at her lip when she sleeps…it’s so cute how she pokes it out like that! 😀

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Reina got a new bow at the market, and she’s so happy to model it for us!

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Today was Easter Sunday, and we went out to a place near the beach for lunch. I took a few family photos while we were there. This baby is so photogenic! Oh, and her parents aren’t half bad either. 😉

Thank you Reina for the fun this week. I’m going to miss you! Aunt Jen loves you!!

10 Interviewing DO’s and DON’T’s

Let me preface this by saying that I’m an international school principal, so these are my recommendations when interviewing for an overseas position, although many are transferrable to local positions.

1. DON’T wear your pajamas.
International schools conduct many of their interviews via Skype. While you don’t need to wear a suit and tie, appropriate clothing is appreciated. Take that little bit of extra time to at least make sure the top half of you looks professional and presentable. If you want to wear your flannel panama bottoms, I won’t judge— I’m probably wearing them, too.

2. DO use your real name.
While you may have a cutesy nickname that your friends and family call you, go by your real name during the interview. Unless it’s a name you go by all the time, like Mike for Michael, refrain from sharing on that first interview.

“Hello Hannah, how are you?”
“I’m fine. By the way, my friends call me Heavenly.”
“Oh really? Why’s that?”
“They say I’m like an angel from Heaven.”
“Okay…I think I’ll stick with Hannah.”

3. DON’T tell the interviewer what to do.
Interviewers appreciate feedback and questions, however telling us what to do is a sure way to guarantee we won’t call you for a second interview.

“Have you read all of my recommendation letters?”
“No, that’s usually something we do when we want to offer someone a job, not for the first interview.”
“Well, I suggest you read them all so that you know who you’re talking to.”
“Noted.”

4. DO your research.
Before your interview, take the time to get to know a little something about the school. Peruse their website, read their mission statement and values, find out about the curriculum the school uses, write down any questions you have. Employers are impressed that you took that little bit of extra time to find out more about their school. There’s an added benefit for you, too. You’ll get to know whether this school is a good fit for you or not. Do you believe in their mission and values? What about the curriculum? Is it one you are familiar with or one that you believe is best for students?

5. DON’T ask about salary details during the first interview.
The first interview is a time for both the employer and the potential employee to get to know one another, determine if it would be a good match (getting a job goes both ways), and ask some preliminary questions. Asking about the salary right away tells your potential employer that you’re only in it for the money, and not really interested in much else. Of course, salary and benefits are important, but this is something we save until later, when we are interested in making an offer.

6. DO display confidence, not cockiness.
Confidence is great—showing what you have to offer, highlighting your strengths, and selling yourself—but cockiness is not. A cocky attitude is such a turn-off for an interviewer. Look at it this way, if you are this cocky now, what will you be like when you work here?

“So, Sam, what are you looking for in a school?”
“I’m looking for a school that recognizes that I’m the whole package.”
“Oh, okay…”

Pretty sure I was looking for something along the lines of…collaborative, good sense of community, a place to grow professionally, but okay.

7. DON’T bad-mouth your current school.
We get it. You don’t like where you work now. This is probably the reason you are searching for a new job. But please, don’t complain about your current school. While you may think this makes the school look bad, it really just makes you look bad. What goes through my head when someone does this is, “What are they going to say about us if I hire them?”. It’s kind of like when your friend gossips to you about another friend. You have to worry about what they say about you when you’re not around. You don’t have to paint a flowery image that doesn’t exist, but avoid blatant complaining.

8. DO ask questions.
Most people think the interviewers are the only ones to ask the questions, but especially when looking for a position overseas, the interviewee should ask some questions, too. After all, you would be committing two years of your life to this school should you get the job. Preparing questions ahead of time will help you remember what you want to ask. Common question themes include: specific curriculum-related questions, demographics of student body and staff, what life is like there, professional development opportunities (particularly if it’s a new curriculum to you), support and resources available at the school, and school culture. Don’t bombard your interviewer with questions, but ask ones that you truly important to you.

9. DON’T be boring.
Interviewing on Skype is different than in person. I get that. But that’s no excuse to be boring. Let your personality shine through. Be engaged, listen thoughtfully, and show us who you are. The saying “You only get one chance to make a first impression” is true. If you’re a dud during the interview, it won’t matter how impressive your resume is, because we won’t be calling you back.

10. DO follow up the interview with an email.
Employers appreciate a short email after the interview, thanking them for taking the time to interview you, expressing your continued interest in the position, and even asking a question or two you might not have had the chance to ask during the interview.

Anyone else have any interviewing tips to share?

Travel Tips for Nepal

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Having recently visited Nepal, here are some of my tips for you when you go. And yes, you should definitely go!

  • Visit Kathmandu. Really, you should go. There are some pretty interesting places to see like Durbar Square, Thamel, Patan, and the Monkey Temple to name a few. But don’t spend too much time in the city. The countryside’s where the real Nepali experiences are. Go out into the small villages, take a trip around the valley on the back of a motorbike, play soccer with some kids, buy souvenirs from the local artisans. Just get out of the city. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Engage with the locals. Nepali people are some of the warmest, most genuine, helpful people you’ll ever meet. Sit a spell and swap some stories, hand out chocolate to the children in the villages, practice English with some kids, learn from them. Despite having no money, they find happiness in the small things. We could all stand to learn a lesson about how to be happier with less.
  • Bring a face mask. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. The air pollution in the city coupled with the insane amount of dust flying through the air makes it tough to breathe sometimes. Wearing a mask will make it easier to deal with.
  • Bring some USD in cash to exchange. You don’t need a ton of money since Nepal is really cheap, but finding an ATM that is working can be tricky at times. Oftentimes the ATM would be out of service, out of money, unable to connect, or missing altogether. Save yourself the hassle of trekking all around to find an ATM like I did and bring some cash. One more thing about ATMs- Standard Chartered Bank ATMs were the most reliable for me, so if you happen upon one, that’s your best bet.
  • Try the food. Nepali food is yummy. I highly recommend the momos. Delish!
  • Go to Pokhara. Although I didn’t make it there on this trip due to my short time there, it is said to be paradise on earth. Nestled near the foothills of the Himalayas, the backdrop of the mountains against the lake offers breathtakingly beautiful views. Google it. You’ll see what I mean. Only 200km from Kathmandu, you can easily get there by flight (~30 min.) or you can opt for the scenic route and take a bus which will get you there in about 7 hours. Not sure why it takes so long, but that’s what I’ve heard. It’s a definite must on my next trip to Nepal.
  • Bring some extra passport photos with you on your trip. You’ll need one for your visa on arrival as well as any sort of trekking or adventures you may decide to do. You can easily get them taken there, but that’s time and money you may not want to spend.
  • Bring comfortable clothes and shoes. Make sure that you only bring things that can get dirty, because especially in Kathmandu, your clothes will be covered in dust. Another thing for you ladies out there- while they understand that Westerners have a different way of dressing, it is a good idea to dress modestly while in Nepal. This means long pants or skirts at least to the knee and shirts that aren’t revealing and that cover your shoulders.
  • The high tourist seasons are March-May and September-November, so make sure that if you are traveling during this time, you are aware that hotels and tour costs will be higher and availability at popular accommodation spots could be sparse. Might want to do a little research and book ahead if you are traveling during these times. The weather during the Spring season (March-May) really can’t be beat though!

Hope these tips are helpful as you plan your Nepali vacation. Let me know if you have any questions or any of your own tips to share!