Monthly Archives: October 2018

When You See What You Are Teaching Everywhere!


#sol18- October 16, 2018

It always happens, doesn’t it? You start studying something in school and you start seeing it everywhere! I love this and I hate this. I love it because it makes me realize again and again how relevant what we are doing is and how there are so many natural connections to explore. I hate it because it means my brain is always on- I snap pictures, take notes, send myself emails to try to keep track of all that I want to add to our units.

Our current unit of inquiry has the central idea that communities contribute to the responsible use of resources. So, of course, while on my break in Vietnam last week I was noticing all kinds of things. I took pictures of all of the wonderful uses of bamboo, coconut shells, and more. But there was one scene that puzzled me.

IMG_0625.jpegI always notice trash cans- some cities seem to go with the philosophy that if they do not have the bins people will keep their trash with them to take away- that does not always work. But why I wonder are these bins labelled for tourists? I understand that they need to detail what is and is not organic waste (and it is super helpful that the labels are in English in addition to Vietnamese), but are these bins really only meant to be used by tourists? If so, why? Is it because locals are expected to take their waste back to their own home? The city (Hoi An) was remarkably clean, so whatever they were doing seemed to be working. Then there is the actual title- I think that may be a translation error, as I am pretty sure none of the waste left in these bins is destined to be recycled, but maybe I am wrong.

Regardless, this scene made me pause- and then had me imaging bins in a city where people could actually recycle food waste- what would that look like? An inorganic waste recycling center? I wish that all of the inorganic waste could be recycled!

Tomorrow I am going to share this picture in class as a conversation starter. I have a class full of thinkers, so Iook forward to their thoughts.


Noticing Love and Light As We Move Beyond “The Honeymoon Period”


#sol18- October 9, 2018

We have officially finished the first term at school, sometimes referred to as the honeymoon period. I am at a new school and I have made a conscious effort to be present with my eyes wide open, but to be sure to focus on the good. I am making it a point to notice love and light. Yesterday, as I sat down to write my list of positives the ideas flowed easily. Sure, transitions are challenging, but they are also exciting, so I am focusing on that. Here’s the thing- my attitude has definitely positively affected my experience (as well as the way new colleagues perceive me- people have commented on how smiley I am).

Here are a few things I have appreciated about the start of this school year:

  • My class- we have spent LOTS of time building community and it is paying off- they are really showing growth. We have spent time on collaborative projects in the days before break started and the energy and enthusiasm that the students approached each other and the work was impressive.
  • My teammates- they have been super kind about answering my seemingly endless questions and have enthusiastically tried out new ideas I have shared. I include in here our TA (the school is clear about the TA being a teaching assistant NOT a teacher’s assistant and our class is lucky to have a full-time TA who is fab!
  • Learning from colleagues- from our school’s version of Pineapple charts to Teachers Teaching Teachers scheduled for four times this year (this first time it was kind of like speed dating with each session only five minutes) to informal discussions on the go, there are a lot of people to learn from here!
  • Choice- one of the first things I noticed about recess at school is how much freedom the students get- they can eat wherever they play at morning break and have soooo many places to play. I also love that K-5 kids mingle, as they have the same recess and lunchtime.

Now after nine weeks of teaching and learning, I am doing my best to soak up love and light  (of different kinds) while on holiday too- here are a few pictures from the last few days in Hoi An, Vietnam (lots of wedding pictures being taken and Hoi An is famous for their lanterns).




A slice from a former student.



I Can Almost Smell You…


#sol18- October 2, 2018

Ooh, I can feel it in the air. Can you? No, not the damp feel of soggy leaves that permeates my October childhood memories. Not the nip of chill that meets you in the mornings. Not the spicy scent of pumpkin wafting through almost everything (at least in the US at this time of year) ready to satisfy your sweet tooth.

What is it? The long-awaited hug that October break promises. October break was not anything I ever experienced until I moved to international schools years ago and now I acknowledge them as my constitutional right (which was challenging at my last school as it wasn’t a whole week). Well, this year it has an extra necessity. There are no school holidays in our calendar between August 6 and this Friday (bearing in mind that I actually got here July 17 that seems a long stretch- don’t tell me about all the non-teachers in the world who go far longer between breaks. We started school on a MONDAY and this is our 9th week (the students had last Monday and Tuesday off while the teachers had PD, and although I enjoyed the PD I am ready for a little break)!

So last week as I saw the calendar was almost to October I knew it was time to finally book my break. Solo travelling is not always my thing, so I had put it off, but the reality was staring me in the face- I needed a getaway.

Summoning up Expedia and a travel recommendation doc from my last school I narrowed my choices down to only a few and then I made the call. Half a week in a city I know and love and half the week at the beach- a win-win! I decided to go back to Hoi An, Vietnam- which to me is a perfect small city- great food, relaxing massages, lots of beautiful art, and I can get a few dresses made. I am looking forward to more banh mi and other yummy treats. I also plan to visit a few bridges. The dragon is lit up on Sunday nights and the hand bridge is new to me!!


Then, it is off to the beach- an eco-resort, no less, where I will do very little, but relax (and fact check, I will be working on reports).

So, October break I feel you waiting in the wings- there may be 100 things on my to-do list between now and then, but I can almost smell you- and your promise is keeping me going.



A former student still slicing.