Tag Archives: Advice

Where Things Are Now

Things are pretty much the same, and status quo is alright sometimes. I still love my apartment (I made a burnt eggplant and tahini salad Monday night and spiced lentils with cucumber yogurt tonight), still hate the town where I’m living (thank goodness for friends and Tuesday night badminton), still love travelling (off to Singapore this weekend, Indonesia next weekend, Hong Kong in March to see one of my best friends, hopefully Vietnam in February), and still miss home, family, and friends.

For once, however, school is going well! I have 14 students now, a proper class in comparison to 4. There’s so much more I can do! Unsurprisingly, teaching a real class of elementary students is a real challenge for me. I’ve never worked with students this young and I’ve never taught every subject. Classroom management is completely different, of course, and I feel like I’m constantly trying and scrapping ideas. If it’s anything like my first year teaching, give me 2 months and I’ll have it down without a problem. And there is no way anything can ever be as hard as that year; at its worst, teaching fifth grade can’t even come close. Right now, though, we’re very much in the push-and-resist phase. I think I’m winning. Since the administrators at school are fighting amongst themselves (on a hilarious email chain onto which the entire staff is copied!) we teachers have been left alone, which is how I like it. I have a lot of autonomy in my classroom and I really love that.

Talk at school has long been about plans for next year, and now next year is here. I’ve made my plans as best I can but they’re contingent on Mitch’s ongoing job search in Singapore. I finally understand why the people who teach overseas are either teaching couples or single; the job market for me is very different than it is for Mitch. Neither of us really understood what that meant. If we had to do it all over again, we would have done it differently. Now, we’re trying to pick up the pieces of all the determination we have left because we really do want this to work.

Now that I know more than I did 14 months ago when I took a job at a brand new international school halfway around the world and Mitch agreed to come with me, I can offer this advice: Listen. People around me who know the world better than I do made suggestions that I ignored or explained away. Fatal error. Listen, heed, and be patient.

Food for Thought

As loyal readers have gathered, I generally post images and sometimes I mix photography with life. The more astute readers may have also recognized that I often use quotes to describe what others have already articulated so eloquently. Why reinvent the wheel, right?

In lieu of a photo today, I wanted to share some favorite quotes that have followed me (sometimes insistently, sometimes in spite of myself, and sometimes as mantras) through various experiences. I have a scrapbook of comics, articles, and other inspiring/entertaining things with pages and pages dedicated to quotes, but I’ll limit myself to seven.

Did you know that seven is the longest sequence that, on average, the human brain can recall at a time? Really. Click here. That’s why North American phone numbers are seven digits. Sorry. I used to teach psychology. Okay, quotes (in no particular order):

1. “You have to be yourself. Be very honest about who and what you are. And if people still like you, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s their problem.” – Sting

2. “An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body but an evil friend will wound your mind.” – Buddha

3. “Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” – William James

4. “Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.” – Josh Billings

5. “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” – Robert Frost

6. “If I am not for myself who will be for me? Yet, if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” – Pirkei Avot 1:14

7. “The true test of character is not what we know how to do, but how we behave when we don’t know what to do.” – John Holt

That’s probably enough imparting others’ wisdom for today. If you have good ones, please pass them along! Hope you’re all having a great week!