Monthly Archives: August 2018

Getting in New Rhythms


#sol18- August 28, 2018

You know that feeling when you look up and suddenly realize you have hit your stride and the year is feeling familiar- you have found your rhythm? Yeah, well I am not there yet. I feel like in week 4 I should feel it, but I chalk it up to being in a new school- one day I will feel that rhythm…

Today there was a return to a rhythm of old- in KL Tuesday was at first my yoga day and then my Pilates day- today I returned to yoga.

Rika started the hour by assuring us that the session would be easily accessible for beginners (me). I was apprehensive about joining in as I am really suffering from my first cold of the school year and breathing is hard, but I decided to give it a shot. Well, Rika’s version of easier was definitely not mine, but by some furtive looking at my neighbors (which every yoga teacher always seems to say is not what you should do- after all, yoga is not a competition) I was able to sort of follow along except when I was overwhelmed by too many downward dogs and I needed to take a break because my head felt like it was going to explode. I was reminded of how terrible my balance and flexibility is and throughout my inner monologue was questioning my sanity in participating at all and debating whether this would be my last yoga session in Phnom Penh. Finally, the hour was over (okay, it was longer than an hour and I may have begrudged that extra time). As we all hustled off to our tuk tuks I was walking out with Karyn and Kelly who had attended the previous session that I had missed. Sandy commented, “I thought it was funny that Rika called that a beginner friendly session- it definitely was not that.”

And here I thought I was the only one who was thinking that. Although Sandy is ridiculously fit and a very experienced yoga practitioner I was glad she noticed.

“Yeah- it was much easier last week,” Karyn noted. Then we started sharing our challenging moments. “I always question why I am there as I look at the clock,” Karyn added. Again, I thought it was just me.

Maybe misery loves company. As for me, I am not yet committing to returning to this former habit.


A slice from a former student.

Finally Here and What a Difference It Makes!

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#sol18- August 21, 2108

AT 2:34 Friday afternoon, just after dismissal I got the message I had been waiting for:

“Dear Ms. Erika,

I got the green light to deliver your shipments. Can we set tomorrow at 10 am to deliver box 36-72 to ISPP and 3 pm to deliver the rest of the boxes to your residence?”

Wahoo- now what/ I hurried off to ask my principal what I had to do to schoolwise to allow the movers in. She sent me off to the head of facilities (never my first choice to meet someone for the first time when I was asking for something, but luckily he was kind and made it seem like no problem).

I had trouble sleeping that night I was so excited! The next morning I was at school early and the wonderful men brought all those boxes to my room and at my request dumped the contents on the tables.



There were a lot more books that you can not see in this picture, but you get the idea!

As I had to meet the movers at my apartment for the home shipment I basically just threw books into the plastic bins I use to store them in and headed home. Just before I left the principal came up to check out my room- she may have shrieked (I prefer to think it was in excitement at seeing all the books, but it may have been due to the ridiculous mess and the fact that she is super neat and tidy and this scene was definitely not).

At home, the same process was repeated (only there were not as many books). I then hurried back to school to get a few hours of sorting in so that the room was inhabitable come Monday.

Monday morning there were many excited students popping in for a quick peek before their morning play time. There may have been a few shocked faces when they saw the books everywhere. After Morning Meeting I presented the challenge. Because it is “our room” not “my room” I wanted their input as to how we started organizing the books. They voted to start with fiction picture books. Luckily we have a big open space (the grade 3 piazza) next to our room, so we lugged all the red boxes out there to get started. We agreed to sort them in bins by the authors last name and dug in.


Amazingly that part got done before snack recess. Later in the day, we began another section- the not picture books. We brainstormed categories and then students had lots of decisions to make about which book belonged where. We got a lot done, but there was still more to do. Every child was excited to borrow a book for the night.

Today we completed that section and then knocked out the nonfiction picture books. Unfortunately, I forgot to take an “after” picture. Then we reflected on our work and I asked the students to make posters about the challenge. As it happens our unit of inquiry right now is within “How We Organize Ourselves” and focuses on how we make decisions and how they can impact others- what a perfect, real-life project!

Today as we were getting ready to leave, L. remarked, “It looks so different. The classroom is really looking like it is ours now.”

Ah, the books are finally here and what a difference it makes.  I feel more at peace for sure!

Slice from a former student.

The View from Here


#sol18- August 14, 2018

I knew before I moved here that there was no way I would drive here. I am a wimpy driver and have not driven in about 10 years (did not in Malaysia, many reasons, did not need to in Germany- easy public transport, did not in India- no way!).

Before I even moved into my apartment I looked more carefully at the Google+ Community my school has for teachers. There were a few teachers leaving who had recommended their tuk tuk drivers, so I randomly messaged one. When I did not hear back from him right away I had planned to contact another if I did not hear back by the morning, but luckily Mr. Bo messaged me back.

So began a wonderful relationship. Tuk tuks are everywhere here and you can hail one on the street (with the hassle/challenge of trying to negotiate a price, use an app (like Pass App or Grab) to get a ride, or have a regular guy (I have not seen any women tuk tuk drivers yet). I started out with  the plan that Mr. Bo would drive me to school and I would use an app to call a driver after school (because my leaving is not as set as my arrival). That would have worked, but Mr. Bo encouraged me to hire him for both ways (knowing that I would be slightly more inconsistent). A price was negotiated for weekly M-F and there was no looking back.


His tuk tuk is spacious and super clean and I my ride! When it rains there are these flaps that roll down and I get all zipped in like a tent!



Every morning I pass this place and giggle. You can’t read it, but it says “Mean Mean Guest House”.


I love to see all the shops setting up in the morning- I leave the apartment no later than 6:15 and things are already getting busy.

In the afternoon I almost always see the cows crossing the road not far from school.


The traffic is a mix of cars, trucks, tuk tuks, and motor scooters with little regard for lanes, lights, or “order” in a way that I am used to, yet it all works very well. With Mr. Bo at the wheel I arrive to school safely (although quite windblown) and get home in much the same way.  I am totally convinced that I made the best decision for me to not be driving and I am so glad that Mr. Bo is helping me navigate the streets of Phnom Penh. I am a lucky person!



Slice from a former student who would love comments.

First Days


#sol18- August 7, 2018

All I can say is thank goodness for my colleagues! Somehow I always forget how tiring the first days of a new school year are- add to that being new to a school/country, being team leader, and printers being an elusive tool and you can imagine my frenzy!

Luckily I have lovely teammates, an ever helpful art teacher across the hall, new teacher friends, and a sense of humor! The verdict after two days- I am already starting to fall in love with my class! 21 students (actually only 19 so far- the other two will join us soon), an interesting mix of nationalities and personalities. One poor guy threw up yesterday before he even got to class and went home (I hope it was not me!) and another confessed he was so nervous (so was I, I freely admitted).

In just two days we have read aloud four picture books (All Are Welcome Here, The Story of Fish and Snail, The Idea Jar, and Alma and How She Got Her Name) and begun our chapter book Lulu Is Getting a Sister. The students also saw Colby Sharp’s video of him raving about his book love and giggled as he jumped up on a table- then marvelled that I did too as I proclaimed my love of books. My class library is still en route from Malaysia, so our library is quite limited right now, but they are all diving in. One wonderful student brought in two books that she had bought doubles of by mistake- so the library has already expanded. Our lovely teaching assistant is busy creating our #classroombookaday board and we are off to the library tomorrow, where we will inevitably add to our class library while we await the 36 boxes to come.

Although I may not get to everything I have planned this week I am definitely sowing the seeds of #booklove. A good start, anyway!



Slice from a former student.