Tag Archives: teaching abroad

Day 2 of Virtual School was a bit easier

My title is somewhat misleading. While Day 2 of our Virtual School was easier, the fact is that it’s 6 minutes to 11:00pm and I just finished my work for today. My to do list is still quite long, but I finished the work that I absolutely had to do to be ready for tomorrow morning. I’ve still got to film my Morning Message video in the morning before “school” starts at 8:00, but I look a bit worse for wear at the moment, so I thought it better to wait until I at least had a shower and put on some makeup.

My second day wasn’t as frantic. People were starting to get the hang of things, and while I had a steady flow of messages, texts, calls, and emails to attend to, I wasn’t completely bombarded like yesterday. Based on feedback from the students and parents yesterday, I scaled back the workload today. It’s difficult to gauge how long something will take students to do online and at home. In the classroom you just know, but online it’s so different. Something I think will take them a few minutes takes 30 and something the art teacher set to do over two days they did in an hour. We are all still finding our way.

I really enjoyed my 1-on-1 video conferences with my students, where I was able to chat with them individually about what they’ve been working on, what they needed support with, and what their next steps were. I was able to connect with 12 of my students today and I’ll be speaking with the remaining ones tomorrow. They seemed less nervous and awkward on our video chats today.

Something I hadn’t expected when this all began 3 days ago was that I’d end up being IT Support. I’m tech savvy enough, but I wouldn’t call myself a specialist or anything. However, this unique situation of being thrown into virtual schooling with no prior warning given to parents and students and very little preparation of staff presents some challenges. Students trying to figure out the ins and outs of the various platforms we are using while not physically being with me means I then need to troubleshoot issues remotely with a 10 year old. Of course, there were also some issues with loading resources and videos onto Seesaw. With everyone on all at the same time, some videos wouldn’t upload or wouldn’t play after being uploaded. We are learning patience and work arounds for the issues we come across, such as loading videos at night, when it’s calm, and saving them as drafts to be released in the morning.

On a more personal note, I didn’t take the breaks I’d intended to take today, although I wasn’t as worked up since it was quieter today. I managed to snack a bit during the day, but didn’t manage to eat lunch until 4:30. No wonder my stomach is hungry now…the late lunch/early dinner didn’t tide me over that long. Based on a suggestion from a fellow slicer yesterday, I managed to get a car over to school to pick up my standing desk, which was a definite win for today. After being at work for 12 hours, I had only managed to get in a measly 1,258 steps. I took a break and went for a half hour walk to get in a bit of exercise. I think that starting Monday I’m going to figure out how to get in a walk in the morning and the evening. With 11 more days of self-quarantine to go and at least that many days of virtual school, I’ve got to figure out a way to move more (and not go crazy!).

For those of you interested in what it’s like, here’s a sample of the things we’re doing with the students online.

I made my first YouTube video today of me reading a chapter from our read aloud for their library lesson tomorrow, where they will listen to the read aloud, comment their prediction underneath the video in Seesaw, and then do some independent reading.

Here’s a sample of our daily learning overview for tomorrow. My situation is unique in that we are in our PYP Exhibition, so rather than have lots of lessons, they have more time for researching and working through their Exhibition checklist, tasks, and blog.

Lastly, here are a few pictures of things that some of our other teachers have been doing in the virtual classrooms. I spent some time this evening going through and looking at their videos and work they’d loaded so I could give some feedback to them in our group chat.

Early Childhood Maths Activity
Year 1 (Kindergarten) Science/Unit of Inquiry Activity
Year 2 (Grade 1) Math Lesson
Art Lesson
Year 5 (Grade 4) Unit of Inquiry/Language Lesson

Looking forward to Day 3 tomorrow…and the weekend where I can rest and get ahead with videos for next week’s learning!

Day 1 of Virtual School…Check!

Despite the craziness of yesterday and utter exhaustion I felt, my mind was racing last night and I didn’t fall asleep until after 1:00 am. The call to prayer at 4:00 followed by my alarm at 6:00 were very unwelcome disturbances. After peeling myself out of bed and trying my best to cover up the tired on my face with makeup, I made a cup of tea and got ready for my day. First up was a meeting with the Academic Leadership Team, followed by posting all my videos, lessons, and communications to students and parents.

The excitement of the morning, with eager students ready to check out this new way of learning, energized me, the fatigue no longer wearing me. We all went live at 7:30 and encouraged one another through our various chat groups and channels of communications. By mid-morning, I felt like a yo-yo, bouncing around from platform to platform, approving students’ posts, fielding questions from students, teachers, and parents, responding to emails, reacting to situations we hadn’t thought of yesterday, and creating video tutorials on the fly when students weren’t sure how to access this or that.

Throughout the day I was messaging with students on and off in our Teams chat, checking in with them, answering their questions, and encouraging them. A few of them didn’t understand a math concept or were confused about how to get started, so we video chatted so I could work with them 1-on-1. Their reactions were adorable! They were shy, giggled a lot, and commented on how weird it was to see me on the screen. They’ve just seen me two days ago, but I guess the newness and strangeness of talking to me through a computer screen threw them off. It’ll get easier as we go, as they become more comfortable.

Welcome to my new classroom 😊

I was a little better at eating today, snacking every few hours, but the incessant screen time and lack of movement wore me down. A little after noon I noticed my mind wasn’t as sharp, I was not as motivated, and I had a hard time getting things done. Pushing through only made it worse. At 2:00pm I had to step away. I messaged the students that I needed to take a break and laid down for a 30-minute power nap. I definitely didn’t want to get back up, but I have to say, the nap really did help. I was able to get back to students and teachers and finish up my lessons and videos for tomorrow.

Throughout the day, I was reflecting on how it was going, what I needed to do differently tomorrow, and what new techniques I wanted to try. This is the most intense PD I’ve ever had. You’re learning all the time, out of necessity. You know how you hear about this new tech thing or that new teaching strategy and you think, yeah, I should learn more about this or try that out? Well, this is forcing me to learn so much and by the end of it, I’m going to be a much better educator. Gotta look on the bright side, right?

Meetings look a little different these days 😂

For me, the hardest part is trying to balance everything. I’m not taking breaks or caring for my physical or mental health like I should. This year is a unique year (understatement of the century) and I’ve taken on many new roles, which if I’m honest, I wasn’t balancing well even before this virtual school started. Officially I’m the Head of Primary at my school, but due to a staff reduction in October, I took on the role of PYP Coordinator, and then when a staff member left suddenly in November due to health issues, I took on a full time Year 6 (Grade 5) teacher role, too. So while trying to balance virtual school with my own class of 20 students who are in the midst of the PYP Exhibition, I’m also supporting my teachers and support staff through the process. It’ll get easier, I know it. It’s just going to take a bit of time. Fingers crossed for a negative result and quick healing of the teacher in question!

For those of you who are new to my blog, check out my last 2 slices, which give a bit more about the situation (Coronavirus is here and Prepping for Virtual School in a day).

Year 7, Day 1.

I can’t believe that today is the first day of my seventh Slice of Life Story Challenge! I have so been looking forward to March 1st, for a number of reasons. For one, I know the challenge will kick start my writing again. I’ve been stagnant for a while now, and the SOLSC always gets me revved up for writing! Secondly, I am excited to get back into the SOL community again, as well as meet new writing friends around the world. And lastly, 2016 was a rough year (like a really rough year) for me. One of my goals for 2017 was to get back to being “me” and a big part of that is tapping into the writer in me. For these reasons and more, I’m ready to begin this challenge. Bring it on!

For those of you who don’t know me yet, here’s some insight into who I am.

My name’s Jennifer, and while I’m originally from Texas, I’m currently living and working in Bangkok, Thailand. I’ve been an expat for the past seven years, and so far I’ve lived in Sydney, Shanghai, Albania, and now Bangkok.

I’m majorly obsessed with goat cheese. It’s pretty much one of the best foods ever invented. I like it plain, on crackers or bread, on pasta, in a quiche, with some figs or jam or nuts, on a pizza, on a sandwich…well, pretty much on anything!

I’m really into neon and bright colors, and the fact that I can’t wear anything but dark, neutral colors at the moment (the king died in Bangkok and everyone’s in mourning for a year) is slowly killing me.

I am soooo in love with the TV show This is Us. It tugs at my heart strings and makes me cry nearly every episode, but the characters are so real and lovable that I can’t get enough. I totally love Randall and Jack. OMG…if you are not watching this show, you are missing out!

I’m currently teaching preschool, and while it’s totally new to me, I’m actually loving it (most of the time anyway). I have the cutest class of students on the planet who keep me smiling all day. Even when I’m frustrated with them, they still make me laugh. Oh, and I get hugs all day long, so I’m pretty sure I have the coolest job ever.

My family is really important to me, and while I only see them twice a year, I enjoy the time we have together. I try to make time for each of them while I’m home. It helps me feel closer to them since I miss out on so much the rest of the year.

I model, seek out, and connect to authenticity, honesty, vulnerability, and openness.

I’m a travel addict. I’ve been to 5 continents and 35 countries so far, and yet there’s still so much more out there I haven’t seen! I revel in the anticipation of a trip, and once I’m there, I love finding the little treasures that exist and make this place special. My style of travel is more unplanned and spontaneous. I go with a very loose plan of what I want to do, but am open to possibilities that present themselves. I much prefer seeing more of one place than seeing more places, so I’m likely to stay in one city longer rather than bounce around from city to city or country to country.

I’m a fellow soul searcher, seeking happiness in the small moments in life. While I acknowledge hardships (at some points in my life, more often than I’d like), I tend to focus on the positive aspects that life presents.

I love to laugh and make others laugh. When I’m super excited about something, I usually do some sort of ridiculous dance, which is pretty hilarious given my total lack of rhythm.

I’m really excited to begin this month-long journey with you, and I look forward to getting to know you more through your words. Write on!

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If you’d like to join me in the Slice of Life Challenge this year, head over to Two Writing Teachers for more info!

 

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?