02 September 2013

Back to School, Back to School . . .

I'm back in Singapore! Yay! I didn't think this new homeland of mine would've grown on me so quickly, but it did. I was missing my regular schedule and friends. I returned from the States on Sunday, August 11th. 

My first day back to work was on Monday, August 12th. 

So I got off the plane, got a foot massage, and organized my week's work. Thankfully coming back for a second year is WAY easier than the first year. For one, I am not running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. Tanya and I worked really hard on our last two days of last year to get our rooms in order so that we could just worry about the basics for our first week back. It worked!

We had a few meetings to attend, but basically spent our time getting the supply closet in order. We actually have supplies this year!!!! What???!!!! Yay!!! And we got to know our two new staff members: Charles and Georgia (below). 

Charles is from New York and teaches 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th grade art. Georgia is from Tazmania and teaches KG1, 1st, and 4th grade. They are lovely people to have on board! It's so great to have a large team, a real presence!

Tanya, Georgia, and I decided to have a happy little key ceremony in our storage room . . . Go 2013-2014 school year!

And here's our full team above, left to right: Charles, Tanya, Sarah, Georgia, and moi.

The Saturday before school officially begins, we have a little open house for students and families to get to know where their classes are. Our superintendent gives a brief talk and introduces each department. It's a formal affair from the standpoint of the school. We are presented in hoods colored with our degree's official color, and we stand when our name is called. We did this last year too, but I didn't have my camera with me. 

Last year I thought we looked more like members of Hogwarts. But this year, I felt more like a Jedi. Perhaps that says something about my state-of-mind going into the new school year . . . 

The night before school started, I went out and got my toes done: blinged-out, I should say. Diamonds for all of the piggies. The kids loved it!

The first couple of weeks are perhaps a smidge boring in the art room, compared to mid-year when things are really taking off . . . So to keep things quasi-interesting, I have the kids organizing and personalizing their space. We outlined our essential agreements like we did last year. And then they went to town on their sketchbooks. 

I took beautiful images of the students making whatever face they wanted to make. Then I printed them out in black and white.

They had to altar their image however they wanted and glue it with a decorated version of their name on the front of their sketchbooks. Then, on the inside I printed out several items for them to include inside their sketchbooks for easy referral: an acronym of the word artist, shapes containing their learner profiles, attitudes, and concepts, and a picture of the essential agreements we all wrote together. I also had them make a name tent for me to use throughout the year for seating chart purposes.

Maybe it's because I know all of my incoming 3rd graders since I had them as 2nd graders last year, but the kids are all super-duper. My incoming 2nd graders are absolute doll-faces. I am having such a great time with them! All of them! 

And my schedule is absolutely amazing!! I have 15, 80 minute classes: 9 - 10:20am, 11:20 - 12:40pm, and 2:10 - 3:30pm. Everyday: the same schedule . . . So great!

To round off the week, the following picture was left on my desk. 

Yep! This is going to be a great year!

And to help with the greatness that this school year will be, I have bought a bike. 

Since the very first day of school, Tanya and I have been riding to and from school. It's so amazing what it does for my spirit! I feel like a kid again! Especially when we get stuck in a major downpour (see below). It takes us roughly 15 minutes to get to school. Today Tanya was bringing cupcakes to a friend. We each hit a bump and the cupcakes went tumbling forth . . . We laughed and laughed and laughed! It was hilarious! In roughly 6 months, I will have paid for the bike in saved train/bus fees. And it's exercising, right? 

PS: my bike has tassels. And it's absolutely priceless when the kids pass us on the bus or in their parent's car, waving fanatically!

Oh, and the whole graduate school thing . . . I have about 1,000 books to read before, oh, roughly March. And I should really read them twice to actually comprehend what is being read. So to help with that little hump, I am spending every Sunday morning in front of my pool . . . reading. What a novel idea! (It only took me 13 months to get down to the pool.)

As you can see above, back in early August I was awarded a small research grant to take Indian and Southeast Asian dance classes. This has been absolutely eye-opening. Where I had once been quite confident of my dancing abilities, I am now learning that my body doesn't necessarily move the way I want it to anymore. 

But, man: the music, the concentration, and the exercise that I am getting is unparalleled! And it is so much fun. I basically ignore the way I feel like I look and just concentrate on remembering what I am supposed to be doing . . . 

In January, I will perform a combination of dances for my graduate school critique. Hello, nervous!

The above song is what I learned my first full dance to, and some of the steps you see in this video are the very steps we do in the dance. I can't wait to show you what this will all look like with the costume I am building for this performance . . . Man-oh-man! 

Stay tuned, good people!

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