Time flies! Everyone always says that, but it has never been more true than for my time in China. Coming to China and teaching has been my dream since high-school. Now I am looking out from here and trying to figure out where to go from here. God gives you the desires of your heart and that is exactly what He did when He allowed us to move to China.
Words cannot express the highest highs and the lowest lows that I have experienced in China. I leave here a changed person. I can proudly say that I am stronger in my marriage, as a person and as a teacher. I am going to miss my dear Chinese friends that I am leaving behind, and many other things that I will not even think about until I am back in the states. In China, I always find myself saying – “Well in the States….” and I know that now it will to change to “Well, in China…”
I am faced with the uncertainties that life brings. What I do know is…
- China will always hold a piece of my heart, especially in the wonderful people that I have grown to love!
- I will come back to China – for how long? Who knows?
- I will be a TFA Corps member, which in and of itself is a huge honor, teaching in Mississippi.
- I am ready to spend quality time with my family back in the states, being apart from them has been the hardest part of this experience.
- Most of all, I wait in anticipation to see what God has in store for my life!
Mother’s Day is upon us. I have been waiting to share something about my mom for a while – keeping mothers day in mind. A few weeks ago my mom and I were talking about jobs and such. I am a huge self-doubter or maybe I am just my own worst critic. I never feel like I will be good enough to find a job in my hometown (so many people apply for jobs there and it is a rural school district). In the middle of the conversation I mentioned to my mom that all the things I have been doing – teaching in China and Teach for America – are really going to help me standout as an educator. It was at that moment that my mom made a small comment that I have remembered.
Me – “I am slowly working to outshine the competition and become better than the other applicants.”
Mom – “You are already better than most!”
I am sure at the time she didn’t realize how special that comment made me feel. I always know that I have my mom’s full support no matter what I do. However, I definitely cherish those small comments that she makes about how proud of me she is. It makes me feel good to make her proud.
Thank you MAMA for always supporting me – even when it took me away from you for a long time! It was knowing that you were there to home to that made me get through my toughest days! I LOVE YOU!!
*Check out my new post on my TFA Blog!
This week it is great to be a teacher (well most other weeks, too!). It is teacher appreciation week. With Teacher Appreciation Day on May 7th. I am making a cute gift for my co-workers using Fanta. It is super simple, but I want them to know how much I appreciate working with them. No man is an island and that is certainly true when it comes to teaching. We cannot function well as teachers without the support of our co-workers. Here is a picture of what I am making. You can click the picture to find the labels!
Check out my stores at TeachersPayTeachers and TeachersNotebook for Amazing Deals this week! Happy Teachers Appreciation Week!!
So everyone back in the states has already had spring break. I have been waiting and waiting through this endless semester for spring break. Okay so it hasn’t been all bad, but I am excited for a break – 9 days no school!!
What are my plans?
1. Pack a bit to get ready for my journey back to the States.
2. Go visit my Chinese family in Yantai!! I have not seen them since Christmas and I am so excited. This is the last time I will see some for a while and the last time I will see others on this side of the globe.
3. Relax and enjoy the time I have in China – it is starting to get very bitter-sweet, especially as I start to say “this is the last time…”
- Wish me luck and I hope everyone is enjoying their last few days, weeks, month of school!!
On test days my students come in and I give them three-five minutes to look over their notes. My reasoning behind this is so that they can get into the right mindset before taking the test. Some may think that this five minutes of study time is not time well used – if the kid hasn’t got it by classtime then he/she will not get it in that five minutes. This five minutes, however, is not for them to cram information into their mind it is simply time for them to get into the right frame of mind.
My question to you is, what do you think? I really would like some input from other teachers about this and different ways to approach test days.
Tags: before class, five minutes, Mindset, opinions, Strategies, Students, study time, teachers, teaching, Test, Test Days, thoughts
So I have been reading A LOT! One of the perks of owning an iPad and a Nook in China is being able to download e-books. It is one of the many ways that I feel I can stay connected to the world. Anywho – as a Hunger Games fan, I find myself drawn to dystopian and science fiction novels.
Here are the books that I have read so far:
- Partials and Fragments: This is what I am currently reading (while watching the TV series – Revolution). It is about the human race after a race of partial-humans wipe out almost all of humanity. The people who survived all live in NYC and are trying to find a cure for a deadly virus. I have enjoyed it so far, but the first book held my interest more. I am finding the second book a little hard, but I want to know what will happen so I power through.
- The Chaos Walking Series (The Knife of Letting Go, Monsters of Men, and The Ask and the Answer): All in all I thought it was a good story line. The first book, to me, was the best. I will not spoil it, but know that I cried near the end. One thing that I did not enjoy was the use of foul language. I do not use bad language in my daily life, so reading a book with it is a little strange (The author used it to show the decline of language). I would recommend it for the story line, but be aware it has some language.
- Shades of Earth (third book in Across the Universe Trilogy): Loved it!! I started reading this series last year and this was a great finale to the series. The trilogy follows a girl in her journey from Earth to a new planet. She is frozen and then wakes up too early. The final book is about landing on the new planet and what they find there. Great read for any fan of space traveling…
- Sever (third book in the Chemical Garden Trilogy): I have now read this whole series. Honestly, I could take it or leave it. It had an interesting premise, but the story fell flat in some places. It is about a future world where everyone dies before they reach 21.
- Requiem (third book in the Delirium Trilogy): Interesting, but I found myself skipping some parts to find out what was going to happen. The ending was a letdown, because it doesn’t have closure. I like closure J
- Under a Never Sky and Through the Ever Night: I was impressed with these books. People are left in bio-domes after a huge war has destroyed the Earth outside. I honestly did not know if I would like this series, but the more I read the more I had to read. These books have action, adventure and a good love story thrown in. Definitely recommend these books for Sci Fi fans.
- The Duck Commander Family: Taking a departure from my SciFi/Dystopian books – I decided to read this book about the family from Duck Dynasty. My husband and I love the show and we both found the book equally enjoyable. It was a great read after living in China. It definitely reminded me of where I come from and my southern roots (Georgia Girl all the Way!!).
What’s Next on My Reading List?
- The Elite – Second in The Selection Series by: Kierra Cass (Release April 23rd, 2013)
- Happy, Happy, Happy by: Phil Robertson (Released May 7th, 2013)
- Divergent Book #3 (Release October 22nd, 2013)
- And other books that strike my fancy J
This year I had another opportunity to teach The Hunger Games. I love the entire series and I think my love of the book spreads to my kids. This past summer I purchased the movie poster back in the states. So, I decided to decorate my room and really get into the Hunger Games mood. I purchased a set of quotes posters from Tracee Orman on TpT. I am so proud of my décor. Normally I don’t change up my decorations. I just change out student work and my walls are covered with their masterpieces/projects. I think decorating added to the ambience of reading the book.
This is my third time teaching the book. Wow! However, I tried not to get stuck in a rutt (which can be easy to do when you know what works). So I decided I would add one or two new things each time. This year my major addition was the visual PPT from TpT – Tracee Orman yet again! My original plan was to show a few clips from the movie as we read, but that got vetoed by my principal. However, the PPT worked really well to introduce the novel and my students looked forward to seeing the pictures and discussion questions. One student actually asked, “When are we going to look at the pictures again?”
Here are a couple of pictures of my classroom:
This morning when I headed to school I had no clue the wind would be so crazy. Jeff had told me that it was a dreary day, so I put on my most rain resistant jacket and headed out to face the day. In our apartment complex I could tell it was pretty windy. I could not decide which way to hold my umbrella because the wind kept changing directions. Ugh!
I persevered through the frustrating wind to meet my riding buddy, Ran Ran. We got into a tuk-tuk (the equivalent to a golf-cart in the states with foam board walls). We went down the road headed to school and I honestly thought we were hydroplaining (spelling?). However, it was the wind pushing our poor foam-board mobile. It was very scary to see and feel the vehicle move sideways as you are driving along a crazy Chinese street. Thankfully, we arrived at school safely.
Then we began our final walk through the complex to our school building (through a garden area). Once inside the gate it was like a wind tunnel. The wind that couldn’t make up its mind at our apartment was suddenly transformed into a monster whistling and whisking us along the sidewalk. At one point I had my umbrella in front of me and felt like a cartoon character as I battled to make it to the door.
While on our way through the wind tunnel we heard the cry of our students, who were also battling against the wind the poor things. We all finally made it into the school and assessed the damage. Everyone was soaked. Oddly, one girls whole left side was dry. but her right side was drenched.
After we all shed our jackets and put away our umbrellas (some of which were broken in the wind tunnel), a student came up to me. In Earth Science we just finished our weather unit. He ushered me to the window and said, “Mrs. Caldwell,” pointing outside “F-1 tornado – the rocks are flying!” I tried to no avail to convince him that it was more like a hurricane, but he still insisted it was an F-1 tornado down there. I love my students!!
I came back from Chun Jie break to be met with some of the best projects. My students created dioramas and delivered presentations for the different climate zones. I wanted to share some pictures of their amazing work. I am so proud
Marine West Coast
with white rocks that look like ice because he could not find gray and red redwood trees
Yarn Vines and a cute monkey!
Pyramid with night and day – it can also double as a hat as he demonstrated
This one had a cute skunk going into a log!
Conversation from last night:
Me – Honey, I feel like I am on autopilot and just coasting through this semester. Is that bad?
My husband – Sweetheart, that is because your mind is already in America.
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Ever since I got accepted in TFA (Teach for America), I have been working on pre-work and trying to soak in as much information as possible about my placement region. Unfortunately, that has led to a sort of nonchalant attitude toward teaching the students that I have right now. I feel like I have been on auto-pilot. This is not easy to admit. My students deserve to have a great teacher right now.
I guess I am in my comfort zone (more so than I was last year at this time). I am teaching classes that I have already taught and I have a good idea of projects and activities that work. My goal for the rest of the year is to take the stuff that I am learning and apply it to my classroom right now. I started looking at some online resources from Achievement First and they have some excellent ideas about how to keep students engaged (which is my biggest problem with the different levels I have in each class). I plan to read up on their strategies and start implementing them into my classes. I am also planning to re-read some books from college – The First Days of School and The Cornerstone for Teachers. Both are awesome books about classroom management.
I don’t think that I am doing a terrible job, but I am sticking to what I know works. So I just want to shake things up and have a more engaging class.
What are some ways that you shake up your instruction when it seems to become stagnant?
Tags: activities, China, class, Classroom, education, ELL, engaging, English, English Language Learners, ESL, ideas, reading, Students, Unit plans