Wednesday, September 4, 2013

You Know You Teach Overseas When....

We've started our second year at the Learning Center in Malaysia. Our school has grown to 35 students (K-12). After the world's longest summer (literally! It was 94 days!!), it's been fun to see all the returning kids and meet all of our new ones. I'm pretty sure my brain is still in summer mode, while at the same time it feels like we've already been teaching 130 days instead of 3. This could be a problem!

I have 4/6 of the same students as last year and I'm loving it. It's so nice to already know their levels and what they were taught last year, to know each others' personalities and quirks, and to not have to spend so much time on rules, routines, and expectations (although we have been doing quite a bit of review!).

Over the past couple days I've had a couple moments where I just had to step back and say, "Yup, I'm definitely not in America anymore." Here are some examples...

1) We did a "get to know you" math activity on the second day. The students each got a little pack of M&Ms and were asked to sort them by color (sorting is a first grade skill, they aced it!). Then, they had to count how many of each color they had. On the board, I had questions corresponding to each color. We went around first and whichever color M&M each student had the most of, he or she had to answer that question. For example, if she had the most blue M&Ms, she had to answer the question on the blue paper. Then we did the same thing with least. (Comparing numbers is a first grade skill, again, aced it!) After we were done answering the questions, each student had to create a bar graph with their M&M data. (Graphing is a first grade skill.. we might need a little more time on this one!) My questions were:
a) What was your favorite summer activity? Why?
b) If you could be any animal, what would you be? Why?
c) What are you most excited about in school this year? Why?
d) What is your favorite school subject? Why?
e) If you could go anywhere in the world for one day, where would you go? Why?
(There are actually six M&M colors.. I forgot about brown! Oops! If I do this again next year, I'll add the question, "If you had $1,000,000, what would you do? Why?")

Question #5 is the one where I realized that some of my students might be American by nationality, but definitely are not AMERICAN. :) I imagine my students back in Virginia would've said they'd go to Busch Gardens Amusement Park or maybe Washington, D.C. or even something as crazy as California. Not the case here. My six-year-old student said, "China. They have dumplings everywhere and I love dumplings."
Then, one of my boys said, "I'd go to Russia."
Me: "Why?"
Him: "No, maybe not. I think I'd go to Thailand or Indonesia because they have good food and beaches."
Ok. Point taken. You already know more countries than most adults in America. :)

2) I sent home an "All About Me" form with them on the first night to fill out with the help of their parents. One of the questions was, "Who is your favorite celebrity?" One of my students answered, "Miss Wacek". Ha ha! Clearly 'celebrity' doesn't have the same meaning over here.

3) We were doing a "Math All Around Me" quilt for our lesson today. I asked them different places in the 'real world' that we use Math. They started off with answers like "if you're a teacher" and "when you give us homework," but we were finally able to get to "points in a soccer game," "prices at the store," "what time gymnastics starts," etc. For the quilt, they have to make 8 different squares related to numbers and math in their life. They started off with easy ones like how many siblings? What time is your favorite subject in school? When is your birthday? The last one of the day was "What is your favorite restaurant and what is their telephone number?" Instead of McDonalds, Golden Corral, and Taco Bell, I got answers like "Nasi Kandar" (Malaysian food), "Din Tai Fung," (dumplings) and "Thai Thai".

I love my little international babies. Here's to a great year! :)

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