Sunday, November 21, 2010

A day in the life at ACA, Kuwait......

Here is a glimpse of my life in American Creativity Academy (ACA)....this is Sunday's schedule, 1st day of the week:
6:10 am....bus transportation arrives
6:20 am...drop off at Girls campus
6:30 am....drop off at Boys campus (this is my campus)
in classroom...setting up the schedule for the day on the message center board, changing the classroom helpers, getting worksheets together for the copy center.
6:55 am...go to playground to pick up the boys
7:00 am - 7:25 am is Homeroom...boys come in - unload the rolling backpacks (everything they have goes home and returns lunch boxes as there is no cafeteria)...7:20 morning announcements begin with the playing of the Kuwait National Anthem..followed by short quote from the Quran, followed by any announcements from the principal.
7:25-8:15 am - Islam class taught by male instructor
8:15 -9:05 am - Math - taught by me
9:05 - 9:20am - snack break
9:20 - 11:00 am - Language Arts...writing, reading, vocabulary and 6 boys get pulled out for special ESL resource - taught by Ms. Jenny (teacher)
11-11:30 am - recess (duty free)
11:30 - 11:45 am - lunch (leftovers from 9:05 break) - in the classroom
11:45 - 12:35 pm - Social Studies (or Science) - taught by me
12:35 - 1:25 pm - Arabic class - taught by Arab female teacher
1:25 - 2:15 pm (but really ends at 2:00 pm) - PE (or Art on Wednesday)
3:00 pm - bus transportation arrives for teacher pickup - departs school at 3:10 arriving at Girls campus @ 3:20pm...
3:30 pm - arrive at apartment.
4:55 pm - dark outside and call to prayer sounds
6:30ish...last call to prayer
and early to bed...since alarm rings at 4:45 am!
By the time my day is family and friends in the USA are just waking up to their coffee and newspapers! It's 8:46 pm Kuwait time..current temp is 18 C - or about 66 F and tomorrow high is forcast to be 28 C or about 86 F. Humidity is 34%...very warm and dry!

Enjoy your Sunday! You could be in Kuwait!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kuwait - week 3

We're into our 3rd week here. Last week was a busy week getting ready for the Eid holiday and preparing report card scores...Report cards will go home after the break. I finished out the week teaching Math. After the break, the science block will become social studies. So, I will take over Math and Social Studies in the classroom. But for now....we are on the Eid there is no school. We have been tourists this week so far. We visited the Scientific Center (aquarium), the national museum (which was closed - so we couldn't go in), and Failaka Island. We took the ferry over to the island. It's a 1.5 hour ride....with no seating! However, I feel very lucky that we found some shade! It's still pretty hot here...mostly in the upper 80's to 90 degrees. Although there was hardly anything on the Island, it was an eerie feeling being in a place where people used to live. There are bullet holes in all the buildings...some are completely destroyed. The Iraq army seized control of the island during the invasion and forced the people off. Then they used the buildings as target practice and as a command center. I stepped inside what used to be an apartment. There was no roof...and pieces of sheet rock were falling off the walls. Among the rubble, was a high top man's boot and a child's toy. Remnants of what would have been a beautiful courtyard all done in blue tiles could be seen from the doorway! Such was hearbreaking! We hear that there is an effort being made to re-do the island and make it habitable. The mines on the beaches placed by the Iraqi's have been removed and a new hotel has been built further inland (we didn't see this part). The part we visited is called the Village. There is a man made lake where you can rent paddle boats and a small display of live animals....and 3 restaurants attached to a motel - that looked vacant. On the beachside, there is a nice area to rent jet ski's on the beach. There's tables and sofa's that you can enjoy with a picnic lunch! Other than that, there is nothing to see....except the devestation. Our ferry was to leave the island at 5:30...but was cancelled! I wondered if we would have to spend the night! But alas...a ferry arrived at 7:30 and we started the 1.5 hour ride back to the mainland! The gulf was beautiful in the moonlight. We had the best view coming back - on the front of the boat - watching as the city landscape got bigger and bigger! I was glad to have taken that journey...but glad to be heading back to civilization!
Today I visited the "titanic" mall. I was told that the building was built to the exact specifications of the ship The Titanic! It is huge! There are 5 floors all opening to a central courtyard so you can see all the floors. There were stores that you would recognize...Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, McDonalds, KFC...and I had lunch at Fuddruckers! Yes, I had the best hamburger I've had in 3 weeks! I've posted a picture of 1/2 of the building....
I've also posted a picture I called the "Solitary Man". I wondered what he was thinking as he gazed into the gulf....the wind blowing his disdasha?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kuwait - week 1 reflection

As of today, we have been in Kuwait for 1 week! In some ways, it seems like a lifetime! I think it's because of the jet lag! It really took us several days to acclimate to the time difference, the heat, the noise, and the schedule! Plus, we really had no time to rest before we jumped right in! We arrived on Tuesday afternoon - having left home on Monday morning - had dinner with our partnership teachers even though I think we were all sleep deprived and in a fog! On Wednesday, toured the schools, shopped for food, ate dinner and crashed! Thursday morning at 6:10 am - we were in the classroom....and I took over teaching Math on Sunday! The week here is Sunday - Thursday, as Friday is the Holy day and Saturday is like our Sunday! On Friday, we went to the souq (local market) and visited the twin towers! On Saturday, we visited the Grand Mosque and went to another souq out of town! And then Sunday arrived and we were in the classroom - teaching! However, the day goes by very quickly and we usually crash early at night! (most of us - anyway - not me because I tend to be a night owl - then I suffer the next day!)
The people here are very nice - mostly. It doesn't feel like a Middle East country - except for the "men in white" and "women in black" wardrobe that is everywhere! It's comforting to know that the majority of the population prays 5 times a day - there's no alcohol - and no crime that I know of! Most of the people that I interact with on a daily basis speak good English (except for the bus drivers - who are Egyptian or Indian or Palestinian - and who knows what language they are speaking!) The people drive like maniacs! Their philosophy is to blow the horn and make a hole! I don't know how they avoid hitting each other - the space between us can be measured in yactometers (one trillionth of a trillionth meter - or some such). On the merging roads...there are no lines to define lanes. So, drivers try to cram as many cars and buses and vans in that space as possible. However, that merging road eventually narrows to 1 turn lane or 2 lanes! Vehicles literally ride bumper to bumper..(without touching)..blowing horns....and squeezing in where there was no space 1 second before! It's MADNESS! I really have to close my eyes or pay no attention - and then I worry that we'll get hit and I wouldn't have seen it coming!!! Any way - enough about that!
The school is amazing! Looking at the outside, you would never know that sheer chaos is taking place on the inside! There are 1700 students at the boys campus - ranging in age from 3 (pre-K) to high school! 99% of those students arrive by car - being driven by the nanny (maid) or driver! They arrive very early - mostly because of the traffic - and have to congregate at the play area (hard top - soccer field - under shelter because of the heat - until they are retrieved by the teacher at 6:55 am! They are English language learners - most do a pretty good job. They have 7 blocks of classes consisting of Arabic, Islam, Resource (Art, PE, Computer), Character Education (once a week), Math, Language Arts (2 blocks divided into reading and writing/phonics), and Social Studies/Science! The Arabic, Islam, Resource, and Character Ed is taught by other there are days that we are finished our part of teaching by 11:45 am! However, we can't we use the excess time for planning and meetings! Most of the younger grades have TA's who are Arabic - as a liaison for the students and the "American" teacher - who speaks no Arabic! And then the day ends at 2:00! And the mass pick up begins!
It's very interesting and I am so glad to have had this experience! I'm sure the next 5 weeks will fly by!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Student teaching reflection

I finished my student teaching on Friday, October 22nd with 37 consecutive days! My 21st Century Teaching project was electronically posted 13 hours ahead of the deadline. I went clothes shopping today to finish out the wardrobe for the new I've just got to get all of this stuff into the suitcase!
It was an interesting internship. The students were a challenge and it technically wasn't MY classroom, so I had to do "things" the way my partnership teacher would have done things...if that makes any sense! I learned a few things that I will NOT do in MY future classroom and I have some great ideas that I will use! It was such a busy - whirlwind, I haven't had time to stop and think about everything.
However, on Monday, I'll have 20+ hours of traveling time to digest everything. That's on my list of things to do while I'm flying over the Atlantic - and Europe - and into the Middle East!
Next stop Kuwait!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

State-side final count-down

It's hard to believe that I am finishing week 6 of student teaching! Big project is due 2 weeks from today....then 4 days later, I'm off to the new school in Kuwait! I can hardly wait! I'm anxious to meet the boys in my next class assignment! We're on the count-down! We received our plane reservation confirmations and itinerary tonight...which suddenly made the trip a "reality". All of a sudden, I'm a little nervous. Not about going...but just getting there! It's going to be a long flight! What do people do on an airplane for 13 hours???? I guess I'll find out!
My students here are finally calming down a little. Schedules are running smoother. I seem to be yelling less and they seem to be responding better to instruction...just in time for me to leave! It's been an interesting internship, thus far. I knew that it was going to be a difficult semester, but wasn't expecting it to be SO HARD! The extra work required by the university...reflections, projects, 6-point lesson plans, observations, Prof Development seminars, record-keeping....all of that... on top of teaching math, language arts - including reading and writing, and social studies - every day - all day long is exhausting! Those of us who survive--and believe me, there are those who don't....deserve an award for not suffering a nervous breakdown!
Here are the things I've learned..........
1. A teacher's work is never done. Especially, if you're the type of teacher who cares about the success of your student.
2. Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape. Whatever you plan, better have a fails and sometimes the students just can't handle "centers" today!
3. Activities that you think (and plan for) will take an hour, may actually take 1.5 hours throwing everything else off....and vice-versa...things that you thought would take an hour, are finished in 30 minutes (and then what?????)
4. "Idle hands (and bored students) are the devil's workshop" - you have to watch them every second of every day...or someone gets in trouble!
5. You love them and tell them every day that they are important...and encourage them to dream big and study hard...because they may not get that love and attention at home.
6. You plan for 27,000 seconds every that the day is full of teachable moments..... in an effort that just one child will remember 1 second....and hope that it will have made a difference!!!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Day in the Life of an Intern (Teacher)........

7:10 am: arrived at school. Had lots of stuff to take in for a "fiesta party" today.
7:10-7:50am: reviewed lessons for the day, organized materials that would be used today, etc
7:50-8:04am: took attendance, student lunch selection - emailed cafeteria, pledge to American Flag, class pledge, answered a "bazillion" questions about what time the party started, etc etc etc, tried to get students settled and started on morning work,
8:05-9:00am: observed reading group today. Am thinking that I need to become a reading specialist....small groups limited to 6, nice-quaint room with all the amenities, quiet, no "unusual smells"....yep, I need to check into that!
9:00-10:00am: Math centers with 40+ students. Took away place value dice from one group that insisted on throwing them at each other, assisted another group with 2 digit/3 number addition strategies, broke up argument between group who couldn't decide who would go first, sharpened 48 pencils, negotiated 40+ student maze - trying not to step on hands and other body parts
10:00-10:15am: bathroom break - monitored bathrooms sending in 2 at a time in an effort to prevent yesterday incident of writing on the bathroom wall with "unknown" substance.
10:20-11:09am: delivered students to resouce: PE today. Made phone calls home as requested by notes received that morning, organized LA worksheets for the year-separating by theme/story so they could be filed. Cleaned up math center materials, pencils, papers, etc, straightened desks, put books away, made sandwich for lunch, took a tylenol cold tablet for scracty throat and cough.
11:10am: picked up students from gym...spoke to PE teacher about students who misbehaved in class today....gave mini-lesson on how to conduct self in gym and how to walk in a line to the student forgot lunch box, so sent back to room to get it(oops, forgot their lunch number cards today, so I'll need to avoid the cafeteria cashier who will not be happy).
11:20am: student spilled HOT mashed potatoes on bare legs at lunch table. Rushed student to sink for cold water, applied ice pack, dried tears, and replaced spilled potato order.
11:30am: ate lunch...while watching 24 students chew with open mouths, screaming across the table to be heard over the roar of the other classes at lunch.
11:40am: served iced cream (student birthday today) to 24 students - one bowl at a time.
11:45am: left cafeteria - back to classroom for Lang Arts (and math test unable to give at 9 am due to lack of time). Sent student to nurse to check for 2nd degree burns - filled out incident report.
11:45am: math test
12:15pm: spelling test - 25 words - repeated 2 times and used in sentences. One student mis-numbered paper, so had to repeat list for 3rd time to check mistake.
12:40pm: collected spelling tests - stretch
12:42pm: language arts test on story of the week.
1:18pm: collected LA test. Lined up students for recess - sent outside with partner teacher
1:20pm: set up fiesta party food, decorations, arranged artifact table.
1:40pm: students in from recess - tried to play game using questions from social studies as a review before test. Game ended prematurely due to fight between 2 students.
2:05pm: Social Studies test on Mexico.
2:25pm: lined up students to go to partner teacher room for fiesta party
2:35pm: began trying to serve food...cake, chips and salsa, juice to 48 students who thought they were at "BK" and could have it their way!
2:45pm: served last student
2:55pm: collected trash, packed up, distributed report cards, answered another "bazillion" questions...tried to get students to settle down to wait for dismissal bell.
3:00pm: dismissal by pods....walked my class and next door class students to bus (32+students). At bus parking lot, heard screaming from behind. Student cut finger on vegetable can (was in book bag for art-not turned in). instructed student to apply pressure to wound (with napkin in pocket from fiesta party). Took student to nurse - again (ps...missed bus), called home to come pick student up, cleaned up fiesta party, met with parent of injured student, disinfected 48 student desks and chairs, filed year's worth of LA worksheet papers organized earlier, changed date and resource for Monday, planned with other teachers for next week's lessons, sharpened pencils, erased white board, organized social studies test thrown on desk in haste to get to party, organized spelling test, LA test, math test - to take home and grade, filled away books on Mexico and replaced with books on China - country for next week, checked back door, checked turtles, turned off light.
6:00 pm.....HOME - survived week 4! 4 more to go! (but who's counting)
(6:50pm....99 degree fever - croup-like cough!!!)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week 1 reflection

I survived week 1 of the new school year! I came home today with a sore throat and the sniffles! Just my luck! I'm sure some little person has shared their germs! I am exhausted! I spent all week teaching...staying up until 12 or 1 am writing lesson plans...getting to school at 7 to make copies (ahead of the other teachers)...staying at school until after 5 pm! Welcome to the life of a teacher (especially a 1st year teacher who has no lessons from last year to pull from) Unfortunately, my partnership teacher doesn't have any either as this is her first year teaching 3rd grade! So...we are learning the curriculum together...

But I had a great time! I'm exactly where I want to be and I have a nice long 3 day weekend to plan for next week's activities! 7 more weeks......

I've posted a picture of my first writing assignment and display I made in the hallway!