School

Where to next year…

It’s that time again in the international teaching world where the decision is made to stay or start looking for a new school. This year I decided to move on and look for a new school. My first thoughts were that I wanted to go east – Asia area. The farthest east I’ve been is Bali. The Middle East has been good to me. I started my international teaching career in Egypt and I’m pretty sure that if I can teach/live there I can go almost anywhere. While in Egypt I saw many sights, met a ton of great people and learned too much to even start listing. Moving to Bahrain was a welcomed change due to the fact that it is very western here which made it easy to live. I’ve gained a great deal of athletic director experience, in addition to getting the chance to try new ideas in my classes. In the end though, my time in the Middle East has come to an end and it’s time for me to move on.

I’ll spare you the details of the job search, nothing exciting happened. There were interviews, there were second and third interviews, there was the e-mail stating you were not selected which led to more interviews and then the right job came along. The job that came along I originally overlooked or didn’t pursue in the beginning but that’s how things work out and I’m excited. I’m excited to move to Asia, I’m happy with my school choice and with the opportunities that lie ahead.

Drumroll…….I’m headed to Jeju Island. It’s located at the southern tip of South Korea, apparently I like living on islands. It’s a brand new school called St. Johnsbury Academy (SJA Jeju). I will be teaching PE/Health most likely to multiple grade levels to start and once the school and the program grows I will settle in to a certain grade level.

We have a delayed start because the school will not be complete, yes it’s literally a brand new school opening in October 2017. Since we have a delayed start we do not have to report until October 1st which gives me a bit of an extended summer vacation, no I’m not mad about that. To compensate for those missed days there are a handful of half days on Saturday that will we will have to work in order to meet our contact days. As of now my thought is to arrive at the end of September to start my visa application and get familiar with the area.

A lot of people have asked me how big Jeju is, great question and I finally looked it up. Bahrain is 295.5 square miles and Jeju Island is 714 square miles so almost two and half times bigger than Bahrain. Jeju is sometimes referred to as the Hawaii of Korea due to its volcanic sights and lava tubes. In addition, there are multiple beaches, trails, natural wonders and rural landscapes. I guess I can be the judge of that later since I just went to Hawaii last summer.jeju-map

South Korea also experiences all of the seasons so that will also be a welcomed change from just hot and dry, although I do like the climate in the Middle East.

In the end, I’m totally happy with my choice and look forward to what lies ahead. I have to say that choosing to teach internationally has been a great choice and I’m grateful for the opportunities it continues to give me.

Later skaters

-B

Back to Bahrain and back to school

The end of the summer means it’s time to get back to work a.k.a. school. I’m still glad to have the excited feeling of a new school year. As I teacher I hope that feeling never goes away because then it might be time to find a new profession. This year I was coming in with a good attitude and a bunch of new ideas that I was going to try with my classes.

I came back early to Bahrain to help some friends out by flying their dogs to them. That entire experience was super stressful. I give props to those people who travel with kids, pets and even those who travel with both. This experience proved to me that I do not want to own either, kids or pets, it’s all too much. In the end though I got through it and delivered two alive dogs to their owners who are all now happily living a new life in a new country.

Once returning to Bahrain I had one day to get everything in order. The following day we started our teacher institute week. It was fun to meet the new staff especially my two new P.E. guys. The first week was basically meetings on top of meetings but there was a small amount of time to work in our classrooms. That Saturday I headed to school to finish up my to-do list. To say I feel on top of it this year would be an understatement. It’s been a great start to the year. The new addition of another P.E. teacher has been amazing and the new P.E. guys are great to work with. Due to the addition of another P.E. teacher we now have more flexibility with our classes. We decided to split up the classes between the three of us and we are all teaching our own classes. This year I am teaching Pre-K, KG, 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th grade boys and girls, and high school girls 9-12. We run on a six day cycle so three of the days are elementary days and the other three are middle/high school days. They alternate every other day.

I was excited to implement two new ideas into my P.E. classes and they both are starting out great.

Muscle & Bone of the Month – each month my elementary classes will learn about a new muscle and bone. We will learn how to pronounce it, where it is located, practice writing it, the purpose of it and what exercises/activities use that particular muscle and bone. I’ve never copied and laminated so much in my entire teaching career. I definitely made up for it this year!

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My fourth graders working on spelling and writing Bicep and Cranium, our muscle and bone of the month. They did a great job.

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Behavior Chart – most elementary classes use behavior charts and this is a combination of other teachers ideas and what I have “borrowed” from them. At the start of each elementary class they start on green. If there behavior is less than desirable such as not listening, not following directions, not working as a team, etc. they move to yellow and then possibly red. If they adjust their behavior they can move back to yellow/green. If the class ends on green they can move their corresponding jersey on the game board. Once a class’s jersey makes it to the finish they earn a free period of P.E. to choose whatever activity they would like. They also start over again once they reach the finish and try to earn another free choice day. The kids are doing well with it and like to move their jersey at the end of class.

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My office:

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My webpage for Elementary P.E.

https://sites.google.com/a/rvis.edu.bh/elementary-p-e/

My Monthly P.E. Newsletter – I started this in Egypt and it was a great way to let the parents know what we are doing in class so I decided to start it again this year. Here is the link if you wanted to take a look:

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Year 2 at RVIS, Year 4 of International Teaching, Year 12 of teaching

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Later skaters

-B

 

Start of the school year…busy…busy

It’s been a little over two months since I’ve posted about life in Bahrain. I was finally able to post about a trip I took at the end of September, I’ve been that busy. The short story is – school is crazy busy and my 2 grad school classes are killing me so that’s why I’ve been away. After this weekend I hope to catch a hot second and catch up on some posts. Upcoming topics include – villa update, school update and life on the island.

Here is a picture from a morning run – it’s inside the golf course that’s why there’s grass 🙂

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Later skaters

-B

Egypt Wrap Up

It’s that time of year when teachers are counting the days down until summer break.  In my office we have an actual tear off countdown.  With the end of this year I am also counting the days until I start my new adventure.  Next school year I am moving to Bahrain (it’s a small Middle Eastern island in the Persian Gulf, Google it) to teach K-12 P.E./Health.  I will also be assisting the athletic director with certain duties.  I’m excited to start a new adventure in a new country as well as new school.  I will have the opportunity to teach a wider range of students which comes with pro’s and con’s but I’m excited none the less.  The biggest advantage that I have next year is that three close friends that I teach with this year are also moving to Bahrain and teaching at the same school. It will be really nice to already know three other people, especially close friends.

With my two years ending in Egypt I figured this is a good time to reflect on my experiences here.  This has absolutely been one of the better decisions that I have made.  Now don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine the entire time I’ve been here but I have definitely grown as a person as well as changed in many different ways.

Pro’s:

– I have made lifelong friends.  I know it sounds corny but the more I learn about the international teaching world, the more I realize how small it is.  I have friends all over the world which means more and more places to visit. I have made lasting friendships that I know will last even if we are not in contact all the time.

– I have learned so much more about Egypt and the people that live here than I ever could have if I just came to visit.  I have many Egyptian friends that are amazing.  They are thoughtful, caring, kind, funny, and crazy all at the same time.

– I have traveled to so many places that I thought I would never be able to.  Vienna, Prague, Sweden, Germany, and The Oktoberfest just to name a few.

– Diving – The sea is a whole different world that I never really thought much about.  Being a diver has given me a new outlook on creatures of the sea, for the better of course. Diving in the Red Sea is some of the best diving in the world and I was lucky enough to learn here and get to dive it regularly.

– Teaching – I interviewed for middle/high school then I got to Egypt and they said I was teaching elementary, okay no big deal.  Then my first year I met my co-teacher and she said we were teaching Early Childhood, excuse me? To say I was terrified would be an understatement but these last two years have given me some great experiences with this age level.  Not only my own experience but I work with some amazing Early Childhood teachers and I have learned so much from all of them.  I was also given the opportunity to have a lot of freedom with my lesson plans and curriculum for my classes.

Con’s:

– Internet – it’s so slow, unreliable and slow.

– Harassment – I haven’t had a huge problem with this but there has been a fair share of cat calling from men driving by as we are walking.  The views of woman in general in this country are enough to make me crazy.

– Banks – I’ve lost track of how many different problems I’ve had with my bank here.

– School – Just as every other school I’ve worked in there are problems, this school is no different.

Things I’ve learned:

– People are different, come from different backgrounds, everyone has a story and it’s amazing.

– Minimalist – I don’t need a ton of stuff, I need experiences.

– Life is too short, do what makes you happy.

– I miss my friends and family and it’s okay – it makes it that much better when I go home.

It’s been a great ride Egypt, thanks!

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My favorite, Abu Simbel, with my favorite people.

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Blue Hole, Dahab, with my favorite divers.

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Peace Out Egypt!

 

Later skaters

-B

Conversations in my P.E. class.

Teaching early childhood aged children which ranges from 3 – 5 year olds all day is quite the adventure.  There are many reasons for it being an adventure, in fact too many different reason I can’t list them all.  I do however enjoy things that I often find myself saying in class.  I like to think that I have perfected my craft of sarcasm, being that some people can never tell if I’m being sarcastic or honest.  Job well done, if I do say so myself.  Remember though that my students are very young and have no idea what sarcasm is, never fear though, that does not stop me from using it, in fact it might increase the frequency.  Here is an example of how they do not understand sarcasm but as a good teacher I try to teach them.

Setting: outside in the courtyard on an extremely hot day and a student accidentally knocks over my water bottle spilling it all over my papers.

Coach Brandy: please watch where you are going so you don’t knock over my water bottle….oh lovely someone knocked it over – lovely all over my papers – just lovely.

Student: Coach Brandy is that lovely?

Coach Brandy: no that is not lovely, that is the opposite of lovely.

It’s little conversations like this that bring me joy throughout the day.  Even though my papers were soaked it was hilarious for one of them to ask if that was lovely.

Swearing:

Little kids swearing in general is pretty hilarious because they usually don’t know what it means they are just repeating what they heard.  In my case as an international teacher English is not their first language so they are just learning English and sometimes at this age they might just be learning it for the first time in school.  This fact alone ups the ante for hilarious situations involving swearing.  Most of my students probably say bad words or mean words in Arabic but since I don’t speak the language I have no idea.  It’s not too common that they swear in English the worst is usually calling each other babies.  But when they do swear it’s hilarious, probably even more hilarious is because they have no idea what they are saying is bad.  Here is an example of a KG2 (kindergarten) student swearing.

Omar: Zeina said shit.

Zeina: I didn’t say shit, Omar said shit.

Coach Brandy: Zeina and Omar don’t say shit – it’s a bad word and it’s not nice.

Both students run off and continue to play not even bothered that I said it too 🙂

Funny comments that make me chuckle on the inside:

Last year when I co-taught most of my classes with my colleague Kim she was always there to laugh with me at these situations.  This year I’m on my own so I usually just laugh to myself or chuckle inside and then tell my friends later. Even though no one is there to laugh with me it’s still pretty funny.  Here is a short list of things that I find myself saying in class that make me chuckle.  Please remember they are 3 – 5 year olds and all of what I say refers to our class activities and the equipment we use to do these activities such as kicking, running, jumping, throwing, etc.

– Play with your own ball – yours is the blue ball – play with the blue ball

– You can’t go down whenever you want (said to the class while playing with the parachute and trying to shoot the ball up to the ceiling)

– Get your hands out of your pants

– Stop kissing him/her

– Keep your fingers out of his/her ears

– Put your shoes back on

– Does anyone know what they are doing

– Please do not lick or bite the ball/frisbee you are not a dog

– Gross! Go get a tissue

– Stop crying – there is no crying in P.E.

Most of these comments are said daily, especially anything related to touching themselves, others and even me.

I also like to teach my students about the US.  One day I wore my Cubs hoodie to class and they asked what it said so I explained it was my favorite baseball team (they have no idea what baseball is).  I told them the team name was the Chicago Cubs and then we talked about that’s where I am from and how it’s in America.  Now I’m not really from Chicago but trying to explain to 4 year olds that I’m from Coal City a small farm an hour south of Chicago was not a road I wanted to venture down so I stuck with Chicago.  Then we practiced our midwestern accent and I had to video tape it of course 🙂

Even though they try my patience most days, suck the life out my everyday and only listen half of the time they do make me laugh and smile on a daily basis.  I never thought that I would like teaching this age as much as I do but I do and I’m glad that I have this opportunity.

Later skaters

-B