Welcome to my blog. Come along with me to Cambodia and Thailand as I go on an adventure of a lifetime! Please leave comments and feedback.
We decided to put our students into groups. The first day of the workshop we made name cards for the desks and I “coded” the tags with numbers, colors, letters, and shapes. It was great because every time we played a game or worked in groups we could say, “odd numbers over here, even numbers over here,” “orange group here, blue group here…” You get it. And they thought it was kinda cool. With between 40-60 kids in most of their classes they need some creative ideas for grouping students quickly. We put them in 4 groups of about 4 and gave them a fresh egg. We told the groups that they would not only have to make a container to protect their egg (because we were going to launch it from the second story of the building!), they needed to name it (makes it seem a little more important and I was just curious to see if they would all name their eggs “Bob” as my class of 4th graders has named nearly anything I’ve asked them to designate with a name)! The parameters were simple: they were able to use any of the materials they could find in the classroom (not a lot going on in there, btw) and anything outside. Also, they needed to really PLAN their container as a group and talk about the best way to protect it. Here is where I really needed a Khmer Rosetta Course - there was giggling and some clear debate over the best way to take on this task. Fun was quite evident! The translators couldn’t translate fast enough…and I always wonder if they’re telling me everything. I can imagine the students are saying “she’s so chatty…I wish she would just stop talking and let us get to the task!”
After about a 1/2 hour, we had some creative carriers and names: Ostrich, Heart (Love), Apple, and Strange Egg (my personal favorite). To me, they all looked pretty durable - I wondered if a few Mail Boxes, Etc. and UPS stores were in the future of some of our students??
I took the class downstairs as Debbie prepared to launch. There was quite a ceremony with each of the eggs - team members describing their thought process and why they chose the materials they did (lots of paper and tape - we ran out of our one roll pretty quickly), and different shapes were engineered by each of the groups. In the back of mind I wasn’t sure if I wanted them all to be successful or perhaps at least 2 out of the 4 break? One by one Debbie launched an egg…there was gasping, giggling, and wonder, but they all seemed to “make it.” Then Debbie came down and we went one by one to each egg. Sadly, the following eggs did not survive the launch: Strange Egg, Apple, and Heart (Love) - leak and drips were found as the carriers were picked up and/or cut open..:-(
But, what about Ostrich - it survived!! The container was mostly cardboard they found from an old box stuffed in a corner of the classroom (in a bit of a 3D rhombus), packed with bits of paper and wrapped with tape. Pure genius! They were really excited and so were we - excellent teamwork by all! We gave each of the winning team members an egg to take home…..and they were thrilled!
A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to have a meditation session with a monk. At least I tried to meditate. We pulled up to a beautiful pagoda in a small village just outside of town for our 1 hour meditation lesson. Our very articulate, soft-spoken monk explained that in order to reach a peaceful, more enlightened place we must quiet our “monkey mind.” (It’s like this guy was peeking inside my brain!!).
I listened…I sat…I breathed…and then the ABBA song “Dancing Queen” started playing in my head! Seriously, Tracy…get it together. You’re in Cambodia, sitting with an actual enlightened human…quiet your brain! Nope…now my foot’s asleep…I’ll just shift a bit. How do people do this?? Okay, breathe in, breathe out….. getting quieter… Nope…back spasm. Opening one eye just to check on the others, maybe get a thought on a better position, I surveyed my neighbors. Everyone seems to be doing this. Alright, I can do this… Breathe in a little more deeply this time, slowly breathe out… let go, empty your mind. Suddenly, I’m wondering if I turned my cell phone off, and then I start imagining a cell phone ringing and hope that it would be pulled from the orange robe of the monk sitting in front of me…
And this is how I continued to “meditate” for nearly an hour. Once we finished, finally stood up, and then walked outside the pagoda, our monk pulled out his cell phone and made a call!
Graduation Day for our Classroom Management workshop. Thank you to our participants and translators for your willingness to go on this journey. I will leave Cambodia this year with such optimism because the determination of our group to make education the priority here is clearly evident. I know I came here to teach and share strategies, but I will leave once again with so much joy for all that I have learned. Already planning to come back next year!
I'm so glad that you took this trip again this year! :-) You're a GREAT teacher and I am so proud of you! Enjoy each and every moment while there!
Thanks Gina! Love you and wish you were here with me. I’m pretty sure you were Cambodian in a previous life because the people are just like you: thoughtful, sweet, kind, caring, and genuine.. I’m so blessed to have you for my best friend (of over 30 years!). Love you…xoxo
Some pics from the floating fishing village on Tonle Sap Lake. Over 1,000,000 people live on this lake.
Hey, Ms Kooy! The Bonham Boys hope you have fun in Cambodia! No questions, really. Just keep those pictures coming, they're beautiful. Oh, Lucas wants to know if you can speak the language there? And -- are you acclimating to the hot, humid temps at all? Have a great time!
Hi guys! It’s so nice to hear from you. Lucas - I can only say a few words, but I’m trying to learn more. Not quite sure if I could ever really get used to the humidity here, but you just know what to expect, move on, and take 3 or 4 showers a day! And I’m posting more pics now…this year has been much busier and I’ve had very little time to work on the blog so thank you (akun - thank you in Khemei - the Cambodian language) for reading it! Keep checking back. Happy summer break!
We have all been so wonderfully busy, but with little time to reflect here. It truly has been a whirlwind so far…and that’s not a bad thing. Debbie and I are working hard to give our teachers what they want and need to change the lives of the amazing children here in Cambodia. Their desire and determination are inspiring to both of us. An amazing part of the workshop this year is the questioning of what we are bringing to them. Some of the participants ask “why should I do that teacher?” and “how will that help?” This shows me that our participants are using higher level skills and looking ahead to the possibilities of adapting some of the practices we are trying to share. And we are all having fun!!
Today we talked about routines and procedures for everything…from entering and exiting the classroom to having to go to the bathroom to asking a question. One of the biggest challenges we keep hearing is that there are behavior issues - lots of talking and students not always listening (keep in mind that many of these teachers have 60 students in a class). We continue to keep a set routine in the workshop from the way we take attendance, start the day, work in groups, give signals for attention, etc..and they are starting to remind each other if they forget. I think they see it working in our environment and hopefully they will try some of our ideas in their own classrooms. The thing that I’m hoping to leave our participants with is confidence…to take a bit of what we give them and adapt it to fit the needs of their students. And then be willing to keep tweaking and changing and letting the students drive the instruction and take ownership of their classroom.
One of the highlights today was playing “Cross the River” with another workshop. It is a team building game that everyone enjoyed. The idea is to work together to figure out a way to get across the “crocodile filled river” on very limited logs (paper). And of course, our team came up with a cheer - knew those cheerleading days would come in handy at some point! “Happy, happy yes we are, happy team we’ll go far!!” They were laughing and giggling, having a great time. I wanted to do the splits…but in the skirt I was wearing I just didn’t think it would be appropriate! Another game they are loving is “Simon Says.” I’m calling it “Teacher Says” because I could never figure out who Simon was anyway. It’s hilarious and they are getting really good at it. There’s one very sweet young teacher that I want to pack up in my suitcase and bring home that is really competitive - super cute! We lecture for 15-20 minutes and then play a quick game or sing a song…great time. We had a community circle at the end of the day with the cutest “TRIBLE” I found here at the hotel (little stuffed animal) and they all shared their favorite part of the day and how they were feeling about the workshop - all positive, just thirsty for more, more, more…. :-)
In the afternoon, we took the students (who were able to attend) to the Angkor Museum. It’s truly stunning - could’ve been at the Getty or LACMA (but really better in many ways). The fact that this museum exists here is incredible and the displays dating back over a thousand years are stunning. Only 3 of our students had been to the museum before our visit…it’s expensive and simply not a priority. Tomorrow we will play a game to reflect upon our visit….
More later…thanks for stopping by…..