Monthly Archives: February 2018

Getting Ready!


#sol18- February 27, 2018

Bit by bit I am preparing. Recently at a lunch for last year’s students, I asked for volunteers who would be willing to mentor the newbies this year. Happily, many hands went up. I shared the idea with my neighbor teacher and he jumped on board. I added a line or two of explanation to our class blog this weekend. I had a few veterans create a short video, while he invited some others to come in for our joint introduction. After a few minutes we moved back into homerooms and I passed out a calendar page to each student- just one month- March. Together we brainstormed “back up ideas” so that when we were feeling empty we could pull an idea from our calendars. We talked about the break that will be the last week of March and how to work around the challenge of no wifi. We looked at a few examples from last year.

When I asked, “Who is going to try the Slice of Life Challenge with me?” many hands were raised (and I am hoping that a few more at least jump in in the next few days). I know the start is always hardest, so March 1 we will slice at school, but after that, they are on their own (although I will provide support and encouragement along the way).

I can’t wait to see what the challenge will do for us as a community of writers in the month ahead! (and I hope you will look for their slices!).



Former student, Zhi Hong, still slicing.


What Is Old and When Will I Feel Grown Up?


#sol18- February 20, 2018

Today I realized that by the time I write the slice after this I will be a year older- I will be 55! I remember years ago thinking that Marcia Brady (from the 70s show The Brady Bunch) was the epitome of mature and that one day I would feel mature like her. I also remember thinking, “Wow! In the year 2000, I will be 37 and that is so old!” I often laugh to myself when my sons (or anybody else for that matter) asks me for advice because I still feel like I am not wise enough to dispense much worthwhile advice. On the other hand, I know that when I was looking for my next job there were a few countries I had to rule out because I would be 55 by the time I started work there and employment laws there did not allow someone that hold to begin a contract.

Then there’s teaching- I almost never think, “Yup, I’ve got this- I feel all caught up and have done all I should have done.” I seem to always have that hamster on a wheel feeling thinking to myself “I have to do this, then this, and then that.” Feeling like this when it is only me I have to take care of- no more kids, no more pets, just me, makes me marvel at those teachers who have lives outside of work- how do they juggle all that (and yet I remember the days when I had to do just that and somehow I did).

So here I sit a few days before a landmark birthday wondering…Am I supposed to feel mature by now? Will I ever feel wise? Should I be feeling like teaching is easy?  Then again, I wonder if this what keeps me going, this never quite on top of it, never quite at the top of my game feeling? Is this why I voraciously devour PD books? Keep learning new things? Try out new strategies? Never content to do things just the way I did before. Is this just who I am and this birthday would be a good time to start accepting it? Maybe that is growing up- realizing all of my foibles and going with them.

Former students slicing- Zhi Hong, Toby, and Juliet.

Growing Book Lovers


#sol18- February 13, 2018

Time zones are often a pain and today they almost did me in. Yesterday in the US the major book awards for the year were announced. I like to watch it Before I show my students so I can focus on their reactions when we watch it together. Last night (my time) when they were live streamed from the US I was sleeping, so my plan was to watch it in the morning. I watched part at home and part at school but had to hurry to get it all in before a parent conference.

Our class had done a Mock Caldecott and a Sibert Smackdown, so the students had strong feelings about those two categories in particular. My students were so excited to see some that had been in our book bins win or take honors and were also so curious about those we had not yet read (I confessed that I had already done some quick book ordering before school this morning to get some missing ones ordered). I then read Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut aloud, a book that was not on our Caldecott lits, but that I had bought recently, so they could enjoy this book that had won so many awards.

We then had a good long time to read without any mini-lesson first- the way I figured it, they had had a long series of mini-lessons thoughtfully evaluating all of the books they had considered for our class awards, so now was the time to celebrate our shared love of books!


Former students slicing: Shijie and Zhi Hong.

Facebook Official- So Many Connections


#sol18- February 6, 2018

I figured it was time to make it Facebook official this weekend- it was a big decision, but I had decided almost three months ago- I am not sure why I kept it fairly quiet for so long. My family knew, my close friends knew, many colleagues knew… This weekend I heard from my future team and their warm words of welcome eased me into my announcement:

“An update, although most of you know it by now (signed in November, not sure why I never got around to posting ’til now)- this summer I will be moving to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Although I will miss my friends (and students) in KL I am really excited about this next opportunity. Hope to have visitors.”

It turns out that this was news to many people and what’s more, some people that I know have connections to my next school. I got several messages “introducing” me to future colleagues with subsequent offers for help in the transition. I was reminded once again how wonderful it is to be a part of international education, as it so often does feel like a tiny community. So even though I am moving to a school where I know nobody the combined forces of assigned professional and social buddies along with random friend connections make it feel like I am well supported in this change. Now I can relax and enjoy the months ahead with my current colleagues and students and savor all of the “lasts” because it’s Facebook official.






Former student slicing too-Juliet!