Saturday, October 23, 2010

My 2nd hair cut

So I got my hair cut for the second time yesterday at the same salon. It was again interesting. I got there and Angel, the lady who cuts my hair was finishing up on a person. She told me it would be about 5 minutes and so I had a seat on the couch. After a few minutes she called me over to sit in the middle chair in front of the full length mirror. I really don't like the full length mirrors. I don't like to sit there and look at myself. She came over and told me they were going to wash my hair. She said pulled sections of my hair up and took a look at my scalp and told me it was sensitive so they were going to massage my head instead of scratching it. So, the girl that did the blow drying on my hair the last time had me come over and washed my hair. It is one of those set ups where there is a little stool at the end of the reclined chair that a person steps on and then settles back in an reclined position. The head is laid on a platform with the hair hanging down in the bowl. She did a very nice job of massaging my head. It was interesting how she wrapped and tucked the towel, so that it stayed on my head, but didn't let water drip down. Then I was taken back in front of the mirror, and she combed my hair out. After that she gave me a neck and upper back massage. She massaged me neck and arms a little bit. Then she did some funky things to my upper back and also pat it really hard like 5 times on the right and then the left. It felt good though. While she was doing that then Angel was finishing up another client, (not the one that she was when I first walked in).  She asked me if I wanted Chinese tea, but I didn't right then. Angel came over and confirmed that I wanted my hair highlighted, and I said yes.  She asked me if I wanted the same trim as last time. I said no because it got too thick and hot. She agreed saying it also becomes squarish. I was going to show her a picture of how I had my hair last fall and winter where it was lots of layers and much shorter. She said she was going to layer my hair. I didn't show her the picture. I decided to just let her decided how she wanted to do it. After she cut it like she wanted then she blow dried it and asked me about my highlights. Angel wanted to know if I just wanted blond or blond and copper. I said I didn't know. I said she was the expert and could decide what would look better. She asked if I wanted the blond chunky so it was obvious or thin, so it was more blended. I told her I wanted it more blended.  She did just blond, but she did a really nice job. While I waited for it to set, I read a couple magazine and had Chinese tea. I love the taste of that. They have a tv on each side of the mirror, but it is on mute and the caption is not in English, so I couldn't read it to know what was being said.  While I was waiting then Angel was working on a new client. When I got done then the helper came back and washed my hair again, and combed my hair out and started blow drying it.  Angel came back over and and asked me if she could straighten my hair, so I said sure. She straightened my hair and told me that if I didn't wash it I could wear it for 2 or 3 days like that. By 9p.m. last night though it was starting to flip a little bit in places due to the humidity. I don't really have many people I will be seeing, so I washed it today, and it is back to curly.  Hair dressers are always obsessed with straightening my hair for me, so I can see what it looks like straight. I don't really care, so I won't take the time to do it myself and the few times I have tried I haven't done a good job, so I let them most of the time.

Angel always seems to be juggling more than one client at a time relying on her helper to do things like the washing and blow drying. 

I was happy with the job she did. Today my hair was a little crazy. It always is the next day after it is cut, so hopefully this will be even better then the last hair cut. She said to come back in two months and she will layer it some more. The highlights should last about 3 months before I have to do them again. The only problem is is that she cut my bangs, and like today when I am doing laundry I find it hot and want to pull my hair back still but it is easier for my hair to fall out. Oh well. Eventually I will find a good style for this heat. It was quite a bit more for all that I had done yesterday, but when I convert it into US dollars to see the comparison it was really cheap in US dollars, so I am fine with the money I spent.

Malay Kampung Field Trip 10/21/10

 We went on a field trip to a Malay Kampung. I was told that Kampung translates to compound in English. So, it basically is a small village. It would be like Erskine, MN or Moorcroft, WY or Belle Fourche, SD.
 We had to take two buses because our school bus is not big enough. It only holds about 30 people. I rode on our normal school bus with the middle school students. Somehow I ended up in charge of taking attendance and counting to make sure everyone was there and making sure students were behaving. Not that I minded. It might be because I can speak loudly (people here speak quietly all the time), and they all are quiet and listen when I speak.  I was being silly when I was on the bus and we were leaving because I was waving to the students on the other bus with this big grin on my face. I didn't quit waving until they waved back at me. They were laughing by then. We left about 8:30a.m. It took us until about 9:20a.m. to get to the Kampung. I was worried that it was going to be really hot and humid. It turned out to be a cloudy day, so it was kind of humid, but not hot. I had sunscreen on, but I didn't get burned, and I didn't end up wearing the hat I brought because the sun wasn't out. Since it wasn't hot I didn't get overheated which is what I was worried about.

I saw lots of poverty on the way there, and lots of vegetation. It was more like a jungle. We got to the Kampung's community library. We stopped there and then had to take two trips on our regular school bus down to the rice field, because the other bus was too large to go down the road. We weren't sure how long of a walk it would be down to the field so we were ok with riding the bus. We had a guide who grew up at the Kampung and taught at the school for several years. He also taught at ISK (the school I am working at) for a few years. There was also a few local men that went down with us to the field. When we got to the field he explained that they had a hard time getting water this year, so there was lots of weeds, and it would not be a good harvest.  They use machines now and not the traditional ways anymore. The rice would not be ready to harvest until November. I was kind of unimpressed because it didn't look much different from some farming field back in the US. I wish we would have gone in November to see them actually harvest, and maybe a demonstration of how they used to harvest.

We walked down the road a ways while the guide was talking to the local guys. He told us to walk on the dirt road and not the grass, so that we didn't get leeches on us. After some of the students were quite far and had walked around the curve of the road we were called back. I took pictures of the field and some flowers that were new to me. The yearbook adviser discovered that the camera was not charged, so I ended up taking pictures to be used in the yearbook. We had to take two trips back on the bus to get back to the library. The boys wanted to walk because it wasn't that far, but I figured the bus was done to keep the student out of trouble (running amok in the vegetation and walking in the cow pies on the road).
When we got back to the library we loaded both buses and went to the Kampung's Primary (elementary) school. It was actually very large and pretty nice looking. We were allowed to use the restrooms. I kind of had to go, but there was only the squat toilets. I wasn't going to use them, but I wasn't sure how much longer the field trip was going to be since new things seemed to have been added to the agenda, and if we would have another bathroom break. I was brave and decided to give it a try. It actually was easier than I thought. While some of us were using the restrooms the others were playing with this basket. They had a basket on a rope that went from the top most level down to the ground. The students were putting things in the basket and raising and lowering it.

Once all of the students that attended the school were gathered we went down to the ground floor. The building is raised off the ground and cars park under the school on the ground floor (so not underground). We went to a section that had a stage at one end. All of their students were sitting down nice and orderly. Our students were kind of bunched up with some sitting and some standing. Our guide was speaking to the students in Malay. Then he had us come up in front one at a time. Each person was to state their name, the country they were from, and what grade they were in (students) or what subjects they taught (teachers).

As I stated before people talk quietly here. When we have homeroom and announcements are done by the students they talk so softly that people at the back can't here. With the other teachers when students are talking and they try to get their attention it is always a losing battle because they talk so softly.

So, our students were really shy to get up. I was telling them that they all had to do it and then had them start forming a line, so as not to waste time. Only one girl didn't get up. I told her she had to, but the other teachers didn't make her. She is from Korea (hasn't been here long), and speaks very little English and is painfully shy.

I was towards the back snapping pictures after I got the students lined up, and I couldn't hear the students from where I was. They finally got a set up with a microphone for the students to use. That helped quite a bit, but it made the students' voices sound funny. Then it was the teachers' turns. When I got up I told the guy I didn't need a microphone.  I said in a nice, loud voice. Hi  and everyone starting laughing because I was able to be heard all the way at the back without a microphone. After I got done the guide translated into Malay for me. I went and sat down after that back with some of my students at the back. It was hot and humid standing up but felt good sitting down because then I was under fans.
Two girls from their school did a martial arts presentation. At first it looked like they were doing a dance, but without the music. They did some sparring with each other and actually did some punching and kicking. While I was watching the performance there was a male (teacher, I think) that was taking pictures of me.

Then they wanted to take some pictures with all of our students.  Our students got up on the stage and just stood in a large huddle, so I had to go up and tell them short people in the front and tall in the back. I had to do some more shifting because some of the people wanted to hide in the back. A group of their students came up and stood in front of the stage. They had them sit down on the stage and kneel because some of our students are about the same height and couldn't be seen behind their students.  After pictures we got back on our bus. The students came to wave us off. The grown ups were standing next to our school bus taking pictures (the name of the school is on the side of the bus). We went back to the community library.

At the community library we got to go upstairs and look at it. I was actually impressed. The library was small, but there were two newer computers that had Internet access. On the ground level was a nursery (preschool) school.  They gave us hot tea, bananas, Kari puffs, and pizza. It was good. All the students walked across the street to the tiny store they have and bought popsicles. I didn't get one. They are like those Freezie's back in the US that come in the plastic that you suck on it and push it up. 

We got on the bus and drove to Pekan and saw the Prime Minister's palace, and the Palace polo club. We drove around Pekan and took a little tour.  Then we headed back to the school. We were supposed to be back by 12:00p.m., but we didn't get back until slightly after 1:00p.m.

On the way back the bus driver on our bus put in a movie. It had the title screen that said Beautiful Animals are Beautiful People. I thought that is a weird title.  I wasn't sure why he put a movie on since people were either watching the scenery or playing games. Anyway he hit play and the movies starts. I was semi watching it because I heard all of the boys laughing. I look up and this lady is running around her house in her bra getting ready for a meeting because she is late. I am thinking I have seen this movie before, I think it is called Pay it Forward. I don't know if it is really appropriate for the middle school level. We get a little father and then the man and woman are getting ready to have sex. We know she is topless even though we only see her collar bone area and above. She unbuttons his top and he is all scarred on his stomach. One of the other teachers and myself are like we need to stop the movie. The bus driver told us it was and ISK movie. We said we didn't care. We didn't think it was appropriate and needed to be stopped. It has been a few years since I saw the movie and wasn't sure how graphic the sex scene was. ( I told the principal about it the next day. He said he was thinking of showing it to one of his classes but he hadn't previewed it yet. I said he needed to do that. He mentioned that there was a censor committee that it should have gone through. I said maybe it did, but there was no way to know and I didn't want to take a chance that it hadn't made it through customs without going through that committee or that it was pirated and had not been censored. He said he thought that one of the teachers had used it in class and shown it to students a few years ago. I said well maybe but I would rather be safe then sorry. )

We were supposed to have a normal afternoon.  When we got back though we had to do homeroom so we could take attendance, then we had to walk across the road like normal and get lunch. After that there was only like 15 minutes left of that class after lunch. I had signed up to be in the computer lab, and another teacher thought her students were in the lab. I went to check the schedule. I had made the mistake. I signed up for the period in the morning when I have World History on Tuesday. The whole not having classes at the same time every day or every other day still throws me off. I was a little annoyed by my mistake, but there wasn't much I could do. So, I just had my students bring their silent reading books and read because there was no point in really getting started on anything. After that it was my planning period. I had been informed the day before that I could decorate the bulletin boards behind the desk I use in room 5, so I brought things to decorate with. I bought this pretty wrapping paper and ribbon to cover the boards. Then I took the calendars I brought with me and picked out the prettiest photos to show my students what my state is like. I also put up a few pictures of family, friends, and cats. I don't have a whole lot up there now, because I didn't have that many pictures to put up. Everyone thinks it looks really nice though now. I wanted to get it done right away since parent/teacher conferences are Tuesday, and there is no school Monday since it is to celebrate the Sultan's birthday.

After school I took the group of students again to the Autistic center. I was a little annoyed because I had many students say that they wanted to go but most of the backed out and the last minute. When we got there they were preparing for Children's Day the next day. I think it was an open house and party. They were counting on ten people to help them, so they were disappointed that there were only a few of us, so they had to change the plans at the last minute which isn't good for the children. We helped them color some letters that they were going to put up and blow up balloons. After that, we played with a few of the children who were out doing water therapy in the swimming pool. We were on the outside while they were in the pool. There ended up being a water fight/duck war and some of the students got pretty wet. Some of my students also wanted to swing while we were waiting for the bus driver. One of the guys didn't know how to swing, so I got on and showed him how. Then he got back on and really got going and high. When he went to get off the swing seat broke. I am going to have to have a talk with our students about their commitment to going.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just a Few observations

-I have now seen smaller trucks like the 4x4's that are mostly Fords. I have also seen more trucks for hauling small loads of vegetables and like hay (only I have not seen hay, but that type of truck). For the most part the vehicles are still small.
-There are a large number of men that carry man-bags or man-purses. My bus driver is one of them. I mean he does have to carry documents when he is running errands with the owner's wife, but he has it on all the time. It is one that goes over the chest. I bought a purse like that because it is much easier to hold on to it so that no one snatches it. Mine is more feminine though.
- People at school share food. Teachers share food with students and students share food with teachers and other students.  Mostly I don't share with people unless I know them really well. Like it was probably a year before I left my best friend eat my food. There have been a few times when a student has offered me a taste of something when I inquire about it. I will only do it though if it is something that is individual pieces. I don't bite off their piece. Today we had KFC and I asked one of my fellow teachers which sandwich she got because hers was larger and looked better. She told me and then offered me a bite, but I declined because she had already bitten off of it and even if she hadn't I wouldn't want to bite off of it and then hand it back. I told her I would just try it next time.
- I have been told that sometimes I am very smiley. I don't always notice that I am smiling. I have had people in the past and even students ask me what I am smiling about because I am smiling but don't realize it. It must be rubbing off. I have noticed that some of my co-workers and other staff smiling at me now when I say hello or good-bye. I am also joking around a little because I think as they are getting to know me they will understand some of my humor. So they now smile when I say something funny.  When I first got here I noticed that everyone always had a serious face. (I notice because my Dad rarely smiles even when he is really happy. We had a friend once tell him that he needs to tell his face that he is happy so that it will smile. We tease my Dad about that. So here I meet all these people who didn't smile like my Dad, and I thought this a perfect place for my Dad. I wondered if any of them were capable of smiling.)  The other day on the bus on the way to school some guy was pointed at the bus and then stopped along side of the bus and was pointed right towards me. I thought maybe there was something wrong with the bus. The bus driver laughed and smiled for the first time. He never did explain, but maybe the guy was pointing out that I was a white lady riding a school bus. Anyway since then I have noticed that when I now say hi to people in the morning or good-bye after school the people I work with are starting to smile at me. Even today some student say some lyrics about smiling makes her cry or something. So I said I wouldn't smile anymore. I was trying to conduct the lesson without smiling and my students were like its not working you are smiling, and so they all started smiling back at me and laughing.
-My World History class is working on power point presentations. The topics we are covering are Greeks, Romans, and Christianity. When they signed up last week, none of the signed up for Christianity, so I had to go back and assign students to do it. Today when they started working the students who were working on Christianity wanted to put very little information on their presentation. I understand that it is a Muslim country. We are learning about all types of civilizations and religions, but they don't seem to have a problem with any other. I talked to the whole class today because they were not happy with how I grouped them, so I talked about sometimes in life we have to work with people we don't really get along with or like. I also talked to the whole class about how this was history. That we were learning how our world came about and was has happened in the past to shape our world today. I told them that they don't have to agree with what people believed but they must be respectful and do a good job. I told them that they didn't have to change their beliefs in anyway concerning what they were learning about other people's beliefs. Now I am not being critical about it just because it is Christianity. If it was about the Greek or Roman religions that they were reluctant to do research and a presentation about I would have the same talk. It makes me wonder what they have learned about though that would make them so resistant. It is not like I have told them what I believe and am forcing them in anyway to change their beliefs.  I don't expect them to provide us with extra information or make their presentation any different than other presentations, but one page of only 5 bullets with a few words of information is not enough when the other students are doing over 5 slides.  One of the groups is doing Paganism and that is still around today, but they don't have any problems with it.
-When they ride motorcycles and when they wear jackets, they always wear jackets backwards. I would think it would be warmer to put them on the correct way and zip them up. 
-All of the larger school buses have curtains on all the windows. On our own bus we have curtains. I have to keep my curtains open, so that the driver can see out when pulling out into traffic. There is the door, but to see farther back he has to look out the window. People pass buses all the time when children are being picked up and dropped off. They don't have the flashing lights and have traffic stop like in the US.
- I have heard they have car carriers here, but most people just hold their babies or small children when they are in the car. Even our new secretary was holding her baby and when she got dropped off she passed the baby off to someone else to hold while they went wherever they were going next.
-There are trees that have these little plastic in them all the time. I don't know if it was for some festival or something, and they have just never removed them or what.
-The houses here are connected. I don't know that they call them townhouses or four-plexes or anything like we do. Anyway I have noticed that sometimes the houses will be a different style on the top floors. Like some will have columns and others will not. Sometimes they will be painted different colors. It is interesting to see like if they share a column or up at the top how precise they are in having the color divide the column right in half or at the top how the front part of the roof will be exactly half one color and have the other. They must use something when they are painting so the line is exactly straight, and it looks good.
- Many Chinese have this red and gold boxes that sit in their yard. They are used for ancestor worship.  People bring food and tea that they leave at the altar, to provide comfort for the person in the afterlife. Incense is usually burned. They also bring "Spirit money" which is paper used to symbolize money.  There is usually a tablet with the peeople's name on it and a picture of the people. I noticed one had lots of statues on it.

World Hunger Day

On Monday my school did something for World Hunger Day. One of the classes, I think the Western Cultures class, brought food to share with all of the students. They distributed food to all the students, teachers, and other employees. When they distributed the food they read a little piece of writing that they came up with to talk about world hunger.  I admire what they tried to do, but I don't think it came across like they wanted. I noticed that all the little papers that they handed out after they read their spiel ended up on the floor. The other students were more into the fact that they were getting free food than they were in thinking about world hunger and how we can help lessen it. They had equal portions for each student, but some students came earlier and just took food without asking because they were tired of waiting. They made a huge mess too.

I saved my paper, and this is what it said: On this World Food Day 2010, when there have never been so many hungry people in the world, let use reflect on the future. With willpower, courage, and persistence-and many players working together and helping each other- more food can be produced, more sustainably, and get into the mouths of those who need it most. The theme of this year's observance is United again hunger, chosen to recognize the efforts made in the fight against world hunger at national, regional and international levels.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


So, in the past I have talked about some of the difficulties but there are also many benefits of this job and experience. I have many areas of endorsement-Middle School Math, Science, Socials Studies, and Language Arts, K-12 reading plus my Elementary and Secondary English. Previously I have only taught 10-11th grade with just experiences in Elementary and Middle School. So when I applied for different jobs in the past I had not actually had much experience. After this job I will have actual teaching experience in Middle School Language Arts 6-8, High school English 9-11 and and Audited AP English. Plus, I will also have experience in teaching Middle School Social Studies 6-8 World History.

I have been lucky in the past where I have always gotten a job and had at least a month to a couple months to prepare for the most part. At my last job I did have another grade and classroom add only a week before school started but it was not too bad because nothing else really changed.  I never wanted to have a job where I had to move, prepare, and teach at the last minute.

Well, that happened with this job, and it was actually not too bad. I got this job but with trying to pack my house up, do paper work and tie up loose ends I was not able to move here and start until after school had already started. I handled it well and did not get too stressed because I knew they realized some of what it took for me to move and get settled and create lesson plans when I had little time and could not bring much with me. It has been over a month now, and I am finally all settled and have taught four full weeks. I am finally getting into a routine and people back home have been so helpful in sending things that I need over the e-mail to help me out. My students have been very understanding and helpful. Now I know that if it were to ever happen again I can handle it and not get super sick or totally lose it.

In my first teaching job I had one classroom. I remember older teachers at my first job telling me how lucky I was that I had my own room and did not to share, and that I was not a floating teacher. At my second teaching job I had two classrooms both years and had to travel back and forth between campuses (across town from each other) all except for one semester. I had to share a room both years at my second job. Well, here I am a floating teacher, and I have to share every room I am in and there is usually a teacher on their planning period when I am teaching in whichever room I happen to be in. In the room that I do have a desk I share it with other teachers so I pretty much have to haul all possessions and books with me every class. I am getting used to this. I always double and triple check to make sure I have everything with me for each class. I try not to go back to the classroom with the desk I use between classes unless I have too many books to carry.

The week before last was tough because I printed out grades to show the students their missing grades. It was hard if they had a question to not be able to get on the computers in the other rooms to show them or go back to the room with the computer I use. I do not want to haul my own laptop everyday so that nothing happens to it. I did talk to the principal and we got me set up as a user on one of the other computers so that when it is locked I am now able to log in. Another one still has a different program and can mess up the grades if I am not careful. There is also a room where neither of the computers are currently. So, I just try to do my best and meet with them at another time if it does not work to get on the computer in whatever room I am in.  This has made me appreciate having my own classroom even more but have taught me even more about preparedness and flexibility. I also don't really have a place to store things so I must take most things home with me and haul them back if I need to use it so I try to teach with the minimum of hauling but still do quality lessons.

Another thing we also don't have is overhead projectors or LCD projectors to hook up to computers. So everything that I don't copy off and want to write on the board I must do at the beginning of class (another reason to carry as much as possible and not run back to the other room between classes). I also have to rewrite the information if I use something similar between classes since I share the rooms. I remember back at my first job not wanting a overhead projector and it taking so long writing things down on the board and when I was given to option to change my mind I did so and it made things so much easier. Here I don't have that option and must do my best to write quickly but legibly. We do have two laptops with projectors for presentations but no one teacher can use it everyday for every class. We have to share and so use is limited only to student presentations.

I have always been used to inter-school e-mail for communication. Here I must track down whatever I need to talk to. This can be good in some ways since the communication is then in person but some teachers are harder to track down then others especially if there class is held in the computer lab, and I need to switch them for a few class periods so that I can have my students use it to type up essays.

Another thing I have always had access to it a grading program. Where all I had to do was plug in the assignments, weighting, and grades. The computer already had all students names in there and figured out the grades for me and printed out grade reports or report cards. Here I have to make a separate spreadsheets for each student and figure out each grade individually. It is quite time consuming, but it is teaching me another skill so that if something ever happened in a future school with a grade program not working, I now know how to do it the old fashion way.  We also have to go into each student's folder to enter the grades and enter comments plus turn in all the grades on paper as well. Again it takes lots of time but is another good skill that may be beneficial in the future.

Some people may read this and say, wow that is too bad. I look at is I am learning all these skills that will benefit me in the future. I am not saying that it is not hard sometimes. It certainly is, but I don't know what my future holds and there could be another job where all of this pays off and helps me in a crisis when other teachers who haven't gone through this will have no idea how to handle it. It also makes me more appreciative of the things I have had in the past and may have again in the future that makes my teaching job easier and smoother.