Work: Bangkok vs. California

At ICS I love:

  • bathrooms right in my classroom – kids miss less class time
  • school uniforms – the kids just look ready to learn, like little professionals
  • Specials – every day the kids get a break from me for art, music, p.e., or computers
  • CC, my Thai aide (yes we can call  them “aides”, not “para-pros”) She is THE BEST! She is assigned to me and the other two second grade teachers. Yes, I get her for over two hours a day, and she is very creative and capable and talented and loving and amazing and hard-working!
  • my Front Row mic system – saves my voice, I talk very low and yet it projects nicely through the speakers in class
  • the Learning Support team – kids are getting academic or counseling/behavior support by the end of kindergarten if needed!! No waiting until 3rd grade (while first grade teachers and second grade teachers are left high and dry!) when they are too far behind to catch up!
  • stairs – I climb 40 of them to get to my classroom on the 3rd floor, and I do that AT LEAST a dozen times a day or more every day (although my legs don’t seem any more firm than they did before school started!)
  • my MacBook Pro
  • the cleaning staff – deserves an entire post – the wonderful lady for our floor, her name is Dang, arrives around 6:00 am and is often there past 5:00. She cleans up in the bathrooms and classrooms multiple times a day. The floors, toilets, desks, are spotless. She wipes handrails, windows, you name it – they all work so hard and is soon attentive to detail, like most Thais I’ve met
  • morning staff meetings – WHAT? you say! – Mondays we get to sing worship songs together, Tuesdays we pray as a grade level/department for students, Wednesdays we hear someone’s testimony, Thursdays we meet with one or two partners whom we picked to meet with all year and check in and pray with each other, and Fridays there is a devotional time. Can’t think of a better way to start each work day.
  • new cabinets – this summer our floor received all new solid wood cabinets made by the maintenance team. They are stained natural and are beautiful and durable
  • prep times – each day there are one or two prep times – never had that for 18 years!
  • my kids are on campus with me!
  • no bells going off constantly – a bell tone to pick up kids at 7:20, a chime at 7:35 to line up outside for the Thai anthem and a prayer, and a bell to end the day at 2:20. That’s it, 3 bells all day. Uninterrupted time during the day without constant bells is great! And even though we share a campus with the middle school and high school, I never hear their bells from my room.
  • the pool – staff can use it anytime after school hours and on weekends
  • my colleagues – I have a fabulous second grade team, we’re all new, so we have to be good at working together
  • our reading assessment – Fountas and Pinnell, it gives a wonderfully in-depth and accurate look at comprehension and true fluency, NOT rate/words per minute
  • refrigerated water fountains from which to grab water from all over campus

From Riverbank I miss:

  • strong 2 pocket folders – they are so flimsy here, thin plastic
  • markers – only fine-tip exist here- Crayola and Mr. Sketch, how I miss thee!
  • a classroom that doesn’t echo the sounds so loudly – the Front Row mic helps students to hear me well, but when students are working with a partner or small group, it gets really loud in there with cement walls and tile floors
  • the construction paper – it is huge here, like 3 feet by 2 feet maybe! Hard to work with and cut when you are used to 12″ by 18″
  • the dismissal routine- a little chaotic – too crowded at the cafeteria tables, trying to have parents, nannies, drivers, etc show their yellow pick-up cards
  • an enclosed cafeteria – not looking forward to sitting in the open air cafeteria during hot season in April, as it’s already warm now
  • a 40 minute lunch – now I have about 20 minutes to go through the line and get delicious Thai food and fresh salad and fruit bar (for $1.50), inhale it, then grab kids and watch them during their 10 minute play time (we also watch them during their morning recess!) But, with my wonderful aide, CC, I am not needing to run and make copies of something at recess like I used to have to do!)
  • driving to work – I didn’t realize that the 15 minutes it took was good time to focus, or to unwind a bit on the way home. Now I walk 5 minutes, which is nice too, when it isn’t raining.
  • my colleagues – left lots of special people behind, some I have known for almost 2 decades!
  • the rural setting – lots of concrete here. But I do get to see some trees and grass, butterflies, birds, geckos, toads, lightning shows, and rain drops the size of quarters
  • my teacher iPad
  • that I don’t get to use the reading program I piloted and helped to adopt