Tag Archives: students

The Magic of Camp

There’s just something about going on camp that sparks a bit of magic. Breaking out of the normal routines of school, pushing yourself mentally and physically, disconnecting from technology, surrounding yourself with nature, all the while working as a team, brings about a sense of connectedness and excitement.

A 3-hour bus ride with 30 ten and eleven year olds doesn’t sound like much fun, but when they all randomly burst into song, a boring bus ride turns into a good time. Between the bouts of singing, we told stories, played cards, made each other laugh, and ate all the snacks! Before we knew it, we had arrived in Lembang. Checking into our hotel, students set up their rooms, excitedly making the space their own. Being able to share your own room with your friends is definitely fun!

From there, we headed up the mountain in our huge bus, barely fitting on the narrow, winding roads. More than once we caused a traffic jam and nearly got into a wreck! While the adults were stressed, this only added to the students’ excitement.

Our visit to The Bandung Treetop Adventure Park was a true adventure! Not only were we tasked with a physically challenging ropes course high up in the treetops of a forest, where we walked across swinging logs hanging from thin wires, climbed rope ladders, crawled through too-small wooden tunnels (my knees!), walked across wires that swayed in the breeze, and shot through the air on zip lines, a thunderstorm blew in quickly while we were all in the middle of our courses! Thunder boomed and lighting cracked as the sky opened up. Being high up in the air next to tall trees and connected to metal wires during a storm isn’t anyone’s idea of a fun time. The workers scrambled to rescue everyone by bringing us down one by one using a rope/pulley system. I was one of the first ones down, so I provided comforting words to stranded children who were understandably scared. We eventually all got down safely, and although we were thoroughly soaked and coming down from an adrenaline high, we were proud of the risk-takers we were!

Our first evening, after we were all showered and rested, was loads of fun! We had a traditional Indonesian dinner followed by some outdoor play, journaling about our day (nearly everyone wrote that the thing they were most proud of is not getting struck by lightning and dying!), and playing an intense few games of Mafia, a game they fell in love with and begged to play throughout the rest of the camp.

Day Two was full-on! Following an early morning wake-up call and a quick breakfast of Bubur Ayam, we piled onto the bus and headed for Tangkuban Perahu, a volcano with three huge craters, that last erupted in 2013. Hiking around the volcano, seeing the craters up close and hearing the history and myths surrounding the volcano, was exciting. The students (and me) were in awe!

After seeing the volcano, we spontaneously decided to go on a hike to see the natural hot springs. Not knowing what to expect, we headed off down the steep trail, with uneven steps carved into the path. The bulk of the group quickly went ahead, leaving a few of us behind. We hoped we were going in the right direction, but the stillness and quiet surrounding us was eerie, and more than once we doubted ourselves. Deciding to take it easy, we stopped and took photos of the natural beauty surrounding us. Craig is a budding photographer who captured a few amazing shots!

The hot springs were worth the trip down, and the students eagerly rolled up their pants to wade in the warm, muddy pools. Fearing that we had to make our way back up the trail that took us about 45 minutes to come down, I was excited to hear that a bus would be picking us up. Little did we know that the pick-up spot was another 1.2km hike away, about a third of it uphill! Bracing ourselves, we hit the trail, huffing and puffing our way through. Coming upon a natural spring with cool, clear water gushing through a pipe, we stopped to drink the delicious water. After making it to the bus stop, everyone was surprised to hear that we’d hiked nearly 10km (based on my FitBit). Boy were we tired, but at the same time, energized. After stopping for lunch and a quick swim at a hot springs resort, we headed back to the hotel, our bodies spent.

After dinner, the real fun started! We built a campfire, told scary stories under the stars (made more scary by Mr Marc’s well-timed screams), and roasted marshmallows to make s’mores. Many of our students, having lived in Jakarta, a major urban city, most of their lives, had never roasted marshmallows before. The excitement and sheer joy of this new experience was rewarding to watch. Fully hyped up on sugar, students danced to their favorite songs, ran around outside, played Jenga, and discovered what happened when you heated up a stick in the fire and swirled it above your head (it makes an orange circle!). We ended the night with a few more games of Mafia, staying up past our normal bedtime. But it was definitely worth it!

The next morning, after a nerve-racking room inspection by Mr Marc, where the students were rated on the cleanliness of their rooms in an over-exaggerated way, we had breakfast and played a few games before the students loaded up on the bus for the long ride back to Jakarta.

Earlier this week, I was able to attend camp with our Year 6 students. Being from America, camp is something that occurs over the summer, so the concept of students attending a camp during the school year is foreign to me. Until this week, it’s not something I necessarily bought into. But now, after getting to experience how camp bonds students together, allows students to partake in new activities, and gives them a chance to shine in different ways, I’m a camp convert.

Literacy Week was a Success!

Last week was my favorite week of the school year, hands-down! Literacy Week is just one of those weeks that’s full of excitement and joy, all centered around the love of reading and writing. What’s not to love about that?!?

Just like last year, I decided to dress up as a different book character each week. I then read to classes as the character. It was so much fun! Here were my outfits and books for this year:

Monday: Rainbow Fish

Tuesday: Pirates Don’t Change Diapers!


Wednesday: Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus


Thursday: Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse


Friday: Max from Where the Wild Things Are

I mean…seriously, how can you not have a blast at work when you’re dressed up like this? However, it was difficult for other people to take me seriously in meetings. ๐Ÿ˜‚

In addition to the character read alouds that I did, there were a few other teachers that dressed in character throughout the week and read to classes, which was fun for the students. Here’s a run-down of the weekly events that we had. Let me know in the comments if you want more information about any of the specific events. I’d be happy to share!

Monday:

  • Literacy Week Introduction
  • Poem in my Pocket began, where students wrote poems that they would carry around in their pockets all week to read to anyone who asked.
  • Cultural Storytellers from Australia
  • Treasure Hunt for lower primary
  • Door Decorating Contest began
  • DEAR Time daily

Tuesday:

  • Write Your Heart Out
  • Cultural Storyteller from Japan reading Kamishibai in both Japanese and English
  • Puppet show for upper primary
  • Book Fair
  • DEAR Time daily

Wednesday:

  • Pajama Day Read-in
  • Book Bites Bake Sale
  • Cultural Storyteller from Korea reading stories from Korea in both Korean and English
  • Indonesian Wayang Puppet Show (traditional shadow puppets) told in Bahasa Indonesia
  • Book Fair

Thursday:

  • Cultural Storyteller from Indonesia, who told a traditional Indonesian story in both English and Bahasa Indonesia
  • Puppet shows for lower primary, performed by Year 6 students
  • Spelling Bee for Years 3-6
  • Book Fair
  • DEAR Time daily
  • Door Decorating Contest Judging

Friday:

  • Book Character Dress Up Parade for the whole school
  • Cultural Storyteller from Pakistan who demonstrated oral storytelling of a Punjabi story, mostly told in English, with some Punjabi words mixed in
  • DEAR Time daily
  • Guess Who? Reveal, where students guessed who each teacher was based on the book they were holding in front of their face.
  • Battle of the Books, a book trivia game for Year 3-6 students

Coming back to reality this week has been hard, but the memories of last week are still with me. The students had so much fun, read lots of books, and enjoyed the variety of activities. I think the teachers did, too!

Do you do Literacy Week at your school? What is your favorite thing about Literacy Week?

It All Comes Together in the End #sol18

There’s something magical about a student performance, isn’t there? Despite the stress of rehearsals, the What the heck do they think they’re doing?!? thoughts that fill your head, the constant reminders to sing louder, turn around, No you can’t jump around on the stage, you’re supposed to be singing right now! moments, they somehow fix all (okay…most) of the problems when they get on that stage in front of their parents. It’s like *magic*.

I have to admit, I was kind of dreading our Spring Primary Concert this afternoon after witnessing rehearsals this week. As a leader who tries not to micro-manage, the responsibility for the concert lay on our music teacher. With only one lesson per week per class, I have to admit I was skeptical as to how he was going to pull it off. Then during rehearsals yesterday, when the students forgot their lines, played around on the stage, didn’t know how to line up to enter or exit the stage, my thoughts were, Oh no, what are the parents going to say? They aren’t going to like this. And, they’re going to blame me.

I jumped in to support, as did a number of our go-getter teachers, and it got a little bit better. This morning’s rehearsal was even better than yesterday, but there were still some major hiccups I worried was about. At that point though, it was what it was and there wasn’t much else that could be done. As they say, the show must go on!

As parents filed into the gym, I nervously waited for the show to begin. One by one, the year groups came up to sing, and they were great! There was some wild hand motions that hit the microphone hanging over the students’ heads (to be fair, they weren’t there during rehearsal and he was really tall), a bit of singing off-key (What Primary performance doesn’t have this?), and the most adorable little Year 2 student standing on his tippy-toes, his hands cupped around his mouth, leaning as close to the microphone as possible to project his already loud voice across the gym (his extremely off-key singing only added to the cuteness). But you know what, those were the moments when it was real. This is what kids do, right? It wasn’t a disaster as I had feared. It went well, parents were happy, and kids were proud of themselves. And that’s all that matters.

Saint, my pint-sized protector

From the moment he first saw me in the wheelchair, my ankle bandaged up, he was my protector. My little Saint.

I wheeled over to the edge of the playground where my class was happily playing. I’ve missed their smiling faces, their hugs, their sense of wonder. Catching their attention, they rushed over, all with the same question, “What happened?” All, that is, except Saint. With indignation in his voice, he points to my ankle, and asks, “Who this?” His face said it all. Being his teacher, I knew “Who this?” really meant “Who did this?”. Saint, my little three-year-old protector, wanted to know who did this to me. What happened wasn’t as important as who hurt me. Such sweetness wrapped up in such a tiny person.

Since returning to school, wheelchair-bound, my class has been curious, asking me what happened one too many times, learning to respect my boundaries (“no touching my foot please”), and wondering why I can’t do the things I normally can. The novelty for some has worn off, and preschool as they know it is back to normal. But not for Saint, whose sweet gestures bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

Everyday, at random times, he comes over to me, smiles, and pats me on my arm or my leg or my shoulder, reassuring me that he cares and is worried about me. Knowing that I keep my ice packs in the freezer, he will bring me one at random, making sure I take care of my foot. He watches me, too. When the pain and swelling get to be too much, I prop my leg up on the table, an attempt to reduce the swelling that occurs from keeping it down all day. He questions, wondering what I’m doing, why I’m resting.

Yesterday during interest areas, I was wheeling around, snapping photos of students busily cooking hamburgers and salad with the playdoh, making melodies on the xylophone, or building a tower out of blocks, wondering how high they can make it until it topples over, sending them into fits of laughter, when something caught my eye.

The dramatic play area, by far the students’ most sought-after center, is too small for my wheelchair to fit, so I watch from afar, an outsider not a part of their fantasy. What I saw was Saint sitting in a chair, his leg up on the table. Lali was tending to him, bringing him a glass of water. Zooming in, I snap a picture before I ask, “Saint, what are you doing?”

With a forlorn look on his face, he responds, “My leg is hurt.”

“It is? I’m sorry. Is Lali helping you?”

Nodding, he says yes. A smile crosses Lali’s face, as she continues to care for her hurt friend. Knowing that I’d removed all the doctor stuff last week, I asked, “Would you like an ice pack?” Of course he would!

Lali came over and I handed her a no-longer-cold ice pack. She went back over and wrapped his leg. Later, his leg still on the table, another student tries to help him, using a pizza cutter as a tool. Grinning, I think, maybe I should return the doctor stuff to dramatic play.

I go about my business of tending to the other students in the class, but about ten minutes later, I look over at the dramatic play area again. There is Saint, his leg still propped up with his ice pack, sitting alone. His heart is so tender and loving, and he is just trying to make sense of his little world.

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A Different Valentine’s Day

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Today was a different kind of Valentine’s Day for me. I recently began teaching preschool, and so far I’m having a blast! I’m learning new things about this age group all the time, and my days are filled with smiles, laughs, hugs, and fun. Today was my first holiday party in preschool, and while I’ve hosted many Valentine’s parties in elementary school, preschool is a different story!

One thing I’ve learned about (well, not so much learned as solidified my thinking about) preschoolers is that they need routine. Anything out of the ordinary turns their world upside down. So, a day where we get to dress out of uniform, hand out Valentine’s cards and candy, and have a party filled with treats is definitely out of our routine. From the moment my little ones arrived, they were literally bouncing around the room, unable to contain their excitement of the day ahead.

We began the day normally, practicing our writing, but they were having difficulty concentrating. After that, we moved to the carpet for calendar time, where we review our day and basics like colors, numbers, letters, etc. They were having none of it. Imagine ten preschoolers, all doing their own thing…rolling around on the carpet, talking to their friends, interrupting other friends, getting up off the carpet to show me their Valentine’s cards, looking around the room, taking off their shoes, etc. My attempts at normalcy were thwarted by the buzz of Valentine excitement in the air. To get our wiggles out, we sang and danced to our favorite song, Freeze Dance. OK, let’s try this again. Same thing. Chaos. Well, that didn’t work. Now what? I shut off all the lights and led them in some breathing exercises, practicing being mindful. That seemed to calm them down a bit.

Giving up on calendar time, we got in a circle to talk about the meaning of Valentine’s Day. I shared that Valentine’s Day was a day to show people that we like or love them and to be good friends. I said we would go around the circle and share what we like about our friends. Modeling for them, I shared that I liked Captain’s smile, and how it always made me smile to see him so happy. “Who wants to share something they like about their friend?”

Alani raised her hand. I asked her who she wanted to talk about. “Rosie.”

“And what do you like about Rosie?”

A big grin spread across her face. “Cupcakes!”

“Alani, what do you like about Rosie?”

“I like cupcakes.”

“OK, but what do you like about Rosie?”

“I like when she gives me cupcakes.”

Chuckling to myself, I had to give it to her. I’d like it if someone gave me cupcakes, too. Mind you, no one had given Alani cupcakes today. Preschoolers are just funny.

“Who else would like to share something they like about their friends?”

J.J. raised his hand, and said that he wanted to share something about James.

“OK, great. J.J., what do you like about James?”

“Cookies.”

Clearly we are not understanding the concept. At that point, I shared a few more examples of what I liked about different friends in the class. “I like how Lanla is such a good listener. I like how excited and full of life Alani is. I like how Lali always helps her friends. I like how Namping always uses English when he talks to his friends.”

“Let’s try this again. Who wants to share?”

Saint raised his hand. He, too, wanted to share what he liked about James.

“OK, Saint, what do you like about James?”

“Pee pee.”

Laughter erupts in the classroom. Everyone thinks this is the funniest thing they have ever heard.

“Now Saint, is that nice to say about our friend? We use kind words in our class.”

The giggling doesn’t stop. Looking up at the clock, I am relieved to see that it’s time for P.E. “OK everybody, let’s line up.”

After recess, we had our party, complete with making jam sandwiches cut into hearts, decorating cookies, and making Valentine’s cards for our moms and dads. We passed out our Valentine’s cards and had a blast opening them up after nap time. A day filled with fun and laughter is always good, but I sure hope we can get back to normal tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! โค

Adrenaline

There’s something about the end of the school year that just gets my adrenaline pumping. The combination of the million things that have to be done, the dress up days for Spirit Week, the reflecting on the year’s accomplishments, the fast pace of trying to squeeze it all in, the weekends with friends enjoying the sunshine, the kids buzzing with excitement, the flurry of teacher interviews and meetings with prospective parents telling them about how awesome my school is…all of this and more adds to the adrenaline pumping through my veins. MY brain is in overdrive and I’m having trouble sleeping, but I keep going, working toward that finish line. Once I reach it, I know I’ll be exhausted and in need of a break. This is why schools invented summer breaks. As much as the kids need a break from the go-go-go, so do teachers and administrators (even more I think!).

And then summer comes and I get to breathe. I get to do what I want to do, and it’s amazing! Things like sleeping in, having long, wandering conversations with friends and family you haven’t seen in a year, reading for pleasure, barbecues with loved ones, going to the cinema, shopping (!!), having more time and space to write, really reflecting on the past year and making plans about how to improve when I come back in August, trying out new recipes, and swimming and laying out in the sun.

I have two more weeks of adrenaline. Two more weeks to get it all done. Two more weeks to say goodbyes. Two more weeks to enjoy my students and teachers. Two more weeks to enjoy Tirana before heading out for six weeks of traveling and visiting home. Two more weeks until the first year at ACT is done. As much as I want time to slow down, I know it’s going to be here in no time. I’m going to try and slow down as much as I can, take it all in, and enjoy all that our team has accomplished this year. Starting a new school is hard work, but the rewards are great!

PYP Exhibition was a Huge Success!

Earlier this week I blogged a bit about Exhibition. While it was a ton of work for everyone involved, I couldn’t be prouder of the students and teachers who made it all possible! Yesterday, the Grade 5 students presented their Exhibition three times, once to the PYP students, one to the MYP students, and once to their parents.ย While we were all beat at the end of the night, we had a blast!

We began with an introduction by the Grade 5 teachers, school Director, Head of Secondary School, and me. Then the student groups took turns presenting the main points of their project, including their technology and art components, and their action as a result of the Exhibition. Following the group presentations, the audience was invited to view the display boards to learn more about the students’ research and ask questions. Lastly, visitors left a positive comment about something they loved about the presentations.

Click here to watch a short video of our Exhibition!

Today the students reflected A TONย on the whole Exhibition process. They assessed themselves, wrote about challenges they encountered and how they overcame them, and celebrated their successes. Tomorrow we’ve invited all of the mentors and experts to have a pizza party to celebrate the end of the Exhibition! They definitely deserve a party…they’ve worked hard! ๐Ÿ™‚

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I just loved reading all the positive things people had to say about the students! They loved reading them, too. The notes helped boost their confidence and made them feel proud! ๐Ÿ™‚