Thursday, August 14, 2014

First week of school is finished!

So much! So much!


We started school this week and after four days of class, we are all ready for the long weekend ahead. Ev and I both have sweet kids and our classrooms are truly global with kids from all over the world; there are 6 fluent languages in my classroom of 20 kids! One of the things I haven't quite adjusted to is the fact that I can put in a work order for just about any task I need completed. Posters to be hung up high? Work order. Need air conditioning on a Saturday to catch up on work? Call maintenance. Need a bookshelf moved? Work order. Check out the following work order I had to put in on Monday. Yup, they not only feed my fish, but they change the water and replace the ones that just can't hang. Poor guy, hadn't even had a chance to name him yet...


So now on to our week-in-review:
Last Saturday, we finally took the kids out in public to a market about 20 minutes across town. We had a goal of buying a DVD player and a kitchen utensil canister and were thrilled to complete both tasks, even with a cranky Oakes. Wren had her photo taken the moment we entered the market, but no one came up to her directly which we weren't sure would/wouldn't happen. I loved that we were able to wander a newer market for me and we all got to see a street cow in the middle of the market.


On Sunday, Evan not only got to go on a hike in the nature preserve across the street, but he also took Oakes back out to a closer market for a few groceries. While they were gone, a monsoon rain hit and we must have received 6 inches in an hour. Our balcony drain backed up so our porch flooded and we ended up having water inside the living room as well (little did we know, this was only a precursor to our water woes we'd face this week. Water was pouring into our hallway through a light fixture last night - completely unrelated to rains.). Ev has some great photos of the market during the storm on Facebook, so take a look there for some better pictures.


Oakes started his Pre-K program this past Tuesday. They go for half-days for the first two weeks, then he'll go full days. He really loves school and said that when Komlesh (our ayah) dropped him off, he didn't even notice when she had left! He's by far the oldest in his class, but we feel like this is a very good thing for him developmentally. 


In the meantime, Wren keeps falling out of her bed which is super fun on a tile floor and in the middle of the night. Our sea shipment is set to arrive in mid-September and once that arrives and we get our bed, we'll move the queen-sized bed into her room which should help her out a bit. 

Speaking of sea shipments, we are VERY MUCH ready for it to arrive! I recall mentioning how cathartic it was to clear out our home of the unnecessary things when we moved here. And how it really taught me how we didn't need all of that stuff. However, now that we are living in a rather stark apartment I can't emphasize how much I want that stuff here. Those small bits of home and the toys and the wall hangings that are floating on the back of a cargo ship somewhere on the water. We had packed a few toys for the kids in our air shipment and the kids have loved playing with those, but toys only hold their luster for so long. Luckily, our children have found other kids around here to play with and - at times - seem to play together nicely.

Oakes is trying to put Wren's hair in "Elsa braids"

Wren is hanging with the big kids, trying to do cartwheels.
So after four days of classes, we had a wonderful assembly today to celebrate Indian Independence Day, which is tomorrow. Oakes and Wren were able to attend with Komlesh and it was truly amazing. One of the troupes of dancers were from a local school of disabled children (mostly hearing impaired) and it was such an amazing and inspiring thing to watch.



We've been advised not to leave our respective homes tomorrow as it is Independence Day and security is high, so we are trying to plan a cook-out and bocce ball game here on campus. And on Saturday, I'm hoping to go furniture shopping for a table for our TV. If time (and energy) permits, we'll go to the rug store afterwards to search for a living room rug for us. We need something to dampen the noise from our kids running around. And Sunday we are going to brunch with a group of friends at a local hotel. It's supposed to be amazing and since our tummies have seemed to have recovered from Delhi belly, we are all excited to eat again!

And saving the best experience of the week for last...
His Holiness Karmapa came to our school on Tuesday evening as an opening to this year's Sangha (check out the link for more info on him). He is most likely next in line to be the leader of Tibetan Buddhists when the current Dalai Lama steps down or passes away. He's only 29 years old yet years wiser than I am. We spent an hour with him while he answered our questions and joked with us. It was a truly worldly experience. Sorry, no photos of this as I was too involved in listening to this wise man's words. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Week In Review

What have we been doing this week?

Professionally...

  • we've danced Russian, Swedish, and Australian folk dances (Evan too! Shocking, I know.)
  • we've played xylophone and sang a beautiful song to the tune of Pachelbel's Canon in D (again Evan too, except I think he only played).
  • we've sat through some of the most empowering professional development we've ever sat through.
  • we helped create a mural of needs.
  • we've set up our classrooms.
  • we feel like we are on a really great team.


Personally...

  • we drank wine and beer we got delivered from "The Russian."
  • we've eaten some amazing foods.
  • our family dealt with "Delhi Belly" (not fun. Also: related to above?).
  • we handled about 20 frustrating phone calls (in 2 days) from the place where we bought our TV to say "No, we do NOT need installation" each time.
  • we found a "grocer" and a "chemist" to fulfill so many of our needs.
  • the kids have found an amazing group of friends on campus to play with multiple times a day.
  • Ev's played basketball and ultimate with some of the staff here.
  • the kids have discovered that rules don't apply when the ayah is here.
  • mommy and dad are frustrated at the above.
  • we figured out how the outlets work ("Don't do what I'm doing, kids.")

India has its quirks, but as Oakes said tonight, "I really like this place."

Monday, August 4, 2014

Deep Teaching Thoughts

We've spent the past 5 work days in orientation and training and I've come out of each session feeling uplifted, enlivened, and motivated. There were honest moments where I wanted to lift my hands up and give an "Amen!" in response to what I was hearing. Here are the highlights: 

The Belief that Teachers are Professionals
I've heard repeatedly from many different presenters this week that the school knows we are all professionals and trusts us to do our job. We are encouraged to research practices and take the initiative to implement them. We are encouraged to reflect on them through data and anecdotal observations. We are encouraged. 

Research Driven Curriculum
I feel uplifted in knowing I have the appropriate resources to do my job. From the materials the school has adopted (Investigations, Writing Workshop, Reading Workshop = very proud to have taught in a district in the states that also adopted these) to a full-time assistant in my room, I can implement the curriculum in a manner I've only imagined. Our school uses the Common Core curriculum and has done the research as to why it is a strong curriculum. In fact, in each of the trainings I sat through today, they presented a flow-chart to demonstrate the school's decision-making process in researching, piloting, and implementing the curricular resources they've adopted. They've also presented brain research to help reinforce this. On a side note, I'm still baffled why any state (NC!) would dismiss the Common Core, but that brings me to my next subject - politics.

Room to Grow Professionally
With less red tape involved in our decision-making (I should be clear: there is an elected board that votes. The red tape I refer to, however, is the circus I know as the NC General Assembly), there is more room for growth as professionals and as a school. We are provided with the means, opportunities, and encouragement to attend professional development and to pursue higher degrees. With trust instilled, we are given the freedom to seek professional development that is relevant to us.

Room to Grow Personally
It is refreshing to hear the school preach that we need to nurture relationships: relationships with our students, with our colleagues, and with our families. Relationships are important and they realize that. So much so, in fact, that they build much of their discipline plan around it and want us to spend time in the classroom nurturing the relationships. They also have emphasized the importance of our own personal relationships and encourage us to unplug at the end of each school day and spend our time off with <gasp> our families. 

I know I am still in a honeymoon phase of this job. After all, we haven't even had our first day with students! But I also know that it is not often that teachers leave workshops and trainings with a spring in their step. I am excited (and yes, a bit nervous) to jump in and get started with the support of the professionals around me and a school that truly has my back.