Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Day in the Life

The students of 3S

My blog has taken a backseat to lesson planning these last few weeks. Time is passing quickly and I am finding that I have much to do in my last week in Vietnam... including writing a long overdue update.

I would like to outline a typical day to provide you with more insight into my life here in Saigon. Here goes:

6:00 Wake-up, check e-mail, eat a bowl of cereal and watch Animal Planet or BBC News, shower and dress for school
7:10 Bike to school and/or take a taxi with my Taiwanese friends
7:30 Load up on tea with milk in the teacher's lounge before heading to my classroom
7:45 Students begin to arrive in the classroom
8:00 School starts! We spend the first 6 minutes of class doing "Chicken Fat"- a morning exercise routine commissioned first by JFK in hopes of curbing youth obesity
8:06 Math
9:00 The kids go to a "Special"- either Vietnamese Culture, Music, Art, or Swimming. Nancy and I prep for our lessons, check school e-mail and gather materials for lessons
9:40 The kids have recess. I continue with lesson prep
10:00 Math facts review and cursive instruction and practice. Introduction of independent work
10:30 Reading groups and independent work time- I meet with small groups of students to read and discuss books, literary elements, and reading strategies
11:30 Lunch and recess (which means lunch duty for me on Mondays and Thursdays- making sure that kids aren't having food fights, that they have just enough soy sauce, and that they have chopsticks or silverware)
12:20 My favorite time of the day: Read Aloud! We are reading Cinderella stories
12:45 Social Studies
1:30 Writing
2:00 The kids go to another "Special" while I prep
2:45 "Planner" time- where students receive corrected homework and write down their assignments for the night
3:00 School's out- monitor hallways and say my goodbyes. More prep time
3:30 Free time- to be spent sipping Vietnamese coffee, catching up with other staffers, biking around the neighborhood, reading for fun, watching reruns of "Friends" while scrambling eggs, and writing lessons for the next day
10:00 (hopefully) Bedtime

So that's a day in my life as a student teacher at SSIS. It's really nice that the students here have so many "Specials" and are developing skills as artists, musicians, and athletes. This is a great benefit of teaching at a private school as I've heard of so many programs in the US being cut due to lack of funding.

The last two weeks I've been teaching most everything within our classroom. I feel more confident and capable as a teacher than ever before. AND... these third graders have won my heart! It was frustrating to teach so many processes the first few weeks but now I'm reaping the benefits. Our class has fallen into patterns. The students know what is expected of them and I have learned what I can expect from them. We can spend more time on the "meat" of the curriculum- as opposed to discussing at length how to open and close a three ring binder. I think my heart might break when I say goodbye to them on Friday. We had a discussion on Friday explaining that I was leaving in a week. One student, B, suggested that I pack all 20 of them in my suitcase, but D responded that they wouldn't all be able to breathe, but maybe if they had straws... I wish we could all travel on the Magic Schoolbus and walk around the lakes together, see the fall colors, travel to Wild Rumpus bookstore and read, and then tour the Science Museum together- preferably watching an omnitheater film on outerspace. These kiddos are going to go so far in life! I am glad to know them and to have learned so much from them!

In other news, since my last post I had a chance to travel to Ha Long Bay and Hanoi. My cooperating teacher Nancy has her grandson living with her for the year. When I heard she was planning to attend a conference in Bangkok I offered to watch Stevey for the weekend thinking we'd hang out at their apartment playing Nintendo Wii and Guitar Hero all weekend. She suggested we come with her to Bangkok but once flight costs doubled she suggested we travel within Vietnam instead... so I had a taste of being an Au Pair for a weekend! Stevey is so sweet and we enjoyed traveling together. We spent Saturday night on a junk boat after spending the afternoon touring Surprise Cave, swimming amongst jellyfish, kayaking through the bay of the descending dragon, and star gazing from the rooftop deck (we even saw a shooting star!). This place truly is a wonder of the world! We returned to Hanoi and took in a water puppet show before flying back in time for class on Monday. A magical weekend- one I'm sure to remember forever!

Last week I welcomed my friend and former classmate Katie Erickson to HCMC. We spent last weekend catching up in the Mekong Delta- touring in a boat to see the morning markets, rice crispies being made, and local fruits growing at an orchard. It was really fun to have a guest- and hear of Katie's adventures this past year. I really enjoyed her visit to my classroom. My students and I have been studying maps so we mapped Katie's tours of NZ, Australia, and Southeast Asia. They asked her some great questions and were genuinely interested in what she had to share. I'm also glad that we could explore the city more together- visiting the War Remnants Museum, sipping cocktails on the rooftop terrace of the Rex Hotel (the station for the US press during the war), and walking the streets in search of books and stationary. The last night she was here though I was robbed- my purse was snatched from the front basket of my bicycle by a man on a motorbike. This is causing a headache as my credit and debit cards were stolen, and heartache as my camera was stolen. My camera had all the images from our weekend trip to the Mekong Delta- market shots- especially of women in their conical hats. I'm pretty distraught, but glad I wasn't hurt and that I still have my passport. Lesson learned- the situation was atypical of my usual habits- my purse is always slung across my shoulder unless I'm biking. I didn't think to put it back on after dismounting my bike to cross the street. Bummer... Can't steal happiness...

And with that I'm off to bed to rest up for my last week here at SSIS. "It's a bittersweet symphony..."

No comments: