Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Coldest Month of the Year

October really shouldn't be the coldest month of the year, and here in Shenyang, October's temperatures definitely do not drop as low as they do later on in the year. Yet I think that October feels the coldest. We still have no heat in our buildings. The heat will turn on eventually, but not until November. So, while it's beginning to reach below-freezing temps outside, we have no heat indoors! It makes waking up at 5 o'clock in the morning torturous! Only a few more weeks and the radiators will come to life and make our apartment and school feel a little warmer in the mornings. They never get very hot, only faintly warm, but somehow they make a slight difference in our comfort levels.

My mom used to tell me, "There's no such thing as cold weather, only poorly dressed people". So, break out the long-underwear and woolen socks, winter is fast approaching!

This past week, I had the privilege of teaching a Tiger Teacher Training. This is a weekly training that the national staff at our school attend for an hour every Wednesday. It was so much fun to present some of my ideas to them. Chinese people are such attentive and respectful students. I could have made a hundred mistakes and they would probably still respect me as a teacher. They are very accommodating and gracious students. I told them at the beginning of my presentation that I hoped to not offend any of them since I knew that there experience and knowledge in education far outweighs my own in some cases. Some of these staff members have a ton of experience, confidence, and knowledge about theories and practices. I hope that it didn't bore them to tears, but I spoke about "Arranging Classroom Spaces". The lady who is in charge or setting up speakers for TTT asked me to speak on this specific topic, which was flattering, of course.

So, I shared the theory behind classroom space arrangements, the purpose of planning effective spaces, and TONS of pictures. I know their English proficiency varies from person to person, and pictures are always helpful. There were probably 60-70 pictures of classroom arrangements and different ways of using spaces. I wish that I could have shared even more! Somehow we got through all of it. Even though it seems like such a trivial subject, it really is important, and I have seen the benefits of having a well-planned out space. The kids enjoy it, and we have plenty of room for literacy work stations now.

I almost wish that I could have had two TTT sessions for this because I would love to have a scavenger hunt with the staff where they would go around the school taking pictures of good examples they find of planning/creative storage/small-group spaces....

Maybe I will get a chance to teach another TTT in the future--they are such appreciative students! One of the points that I shared with them was about having a teacher's desk. I had three questions that if they answered no to, they should consider getting rid of their desk. I also had three questions that if they said yes to, they should definitely keep their desk. The next morning, one of the national teachers that teaches across the hall from me, removed her desk out of her classroom! She said, "I realized that it was too crowded and unorganized in my corner, and there was never enough room for my small group. Now, I share the small group space with my students and only have a small space to keep my teacher things separate"

What a shock! I guess that convicted her! I mean, I still have a teacher's desk...but will probably remove it someday. It takes up too much space and I rather use that corner for stations or small groups. I don't do very much work there. It's mostly just a place to sit when I'm not busy and keep my jacket and backpack. What a waste of valuable space! A coat hook and chair could suffice!

Adam is an amazing husband. He is letting me use his personal computer right now, since mine is broken. He backed up everything on my laptop, which is having issues, put a load of laundry in the washer, cleaned our kitchen, and did a huge load of dishes! Did I mention that he also brought me a mocha from IS cafe? He just announce that he fixed our broken window as well. We had a window in our bedroom that wouldn't close....which meant freezing air would blow on us all night...brrrrrrr!

Now it's off to Carrefour. We need to go shopping very badly. I actually can't remember the last time we went grocery shopping. Adam is having the student council kids come over for dinner and a meeting tonight so that they can continue working on planning some events. Spirit Week is coming up soon, and they are also putting together a lock-in for early November.

My TI is back finally! This has made my life so much easier. She brought me a whole box of Dunkin' Donuts this time! She is very sweet and super helpful. It's very hard to work without her! She has so much experience, a great attitude about teaching, and confidence to teach lessons as well. I haven't had a Mandarin lesson in over a month because she has been gone during my lesson times. I am very rusty now. It's hard for me to even say simple sentences--I'm forgetting so much!

"Treasure Island" is underway! We finished our read through of the script and have started character development. There are 26 kids in the cast! Wow! So much more to be held accountable for! I'm still learning all of their names. Next week we will work more on character development, develop their acting techniques a bit, and introduce them to stage combat! :)


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