Monday, November 25, 2013

Busy Bee

This past month has gone by in a whirlwind! So much going on and so much to do. First of all, besides doing all the housework, I've also been working a ton, subbing at least twice a week, sometimes for the entire week, at all levels -- elementary, middle-school, and high-school. I had a chance to sub for a third-grade teacher a couple of weeks ago, which I was nervous about because I had never worked with elementary-level kids except through volunteer opportunities with my son's class, which is always with the teacher present and fully in charge. Well, I was very pleasantly surprised. Thanks to my son and his love affair with potty jokes, comic books, Captain Underpants, and the Magic Tree House books, I was able to relate well to the boys, who all had similar senses of humor and interests. The girls were all so sweet, helpful, and lovely. The most amazing thing of all, though, was how well they all worked on their own. The entire day. The teacher gave me group activities for them to complete, and they would listen to the instructions and get on it immediately, staying on task most of the time! The most I had to do the entire day was to ask them to keep their voices down a little; otherwise, no behavioral issues whatsoever. I'm sure it also helped that they had four specials that day, so they spent only about half of the school day with me. But now, whenever the students see me at school, they run up to me to say hi and tell me about whatever exciting thing is going on with them. So cute and sweet.

On top of all this, I've also started a Chinese "club" once a week after school. I had been thinking about giving my son some Chinese lessons of my own so he wouldn't forget the Chinese he had learned in the U.S. the past couple of years, but could never get motivated enough. The school offers an after-school Chinese club once a week, but I've heard it has kids of all levels and isn't well-run. Then one of my friends here started her kids with private Mandarin lessons once a week, but mentioned to me that she was feeling that it wasn't enough, so we decided to get our kids together once a week for me to teach them also. It was a good motivator for me to get started with my son. We've only met two or three times, but it's been another good creative outlet for me and a nice way for me to get my own Mandarin writing and speaking skills back.

Then, this past week, I was contacted by a (British?) family to provide Mandarin tutoring for their two young girls, but I think they live closer to, or in, downtown Bangkok, so we'll see what comes of that. I've also learned of some tutoring opportunities at our school, which I'm investigating. 

I've also been working with my son after school several days a week to supplement what he's learning in school. I've mentioned before that his class is currently learning material that he already did last year. This is especially true in math. [And I hate the math program that the elementary school here uses. I've seen the math program for grades 1, 2, and 4 so far, and it just gets worse and worse.] So my husband and I met with the elementary school staff -- his teacher, math coach, guidance counselor -- to figure out how to better accommodate his needs and provide some differentiation for him. After a lot of talking and defensiveness on the part of the principal and math coach, they finally gave us higher-level materials that he can work on in class and on his own, including an awesome online program that is much clearer and easier to understand.

[Meeting with this principal has certainly given me a renewed appreciation for our principal from our school back home, who always kept an open mind and was so amazingly open to talking and working with parents.]

So we're all tired; it's nearing the end of the first semester. Looking forward to taking a break from the everyday routine during our 17-day semester break, which is coming up in about three weeks. Can't wait!!

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