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Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Successful Day of Underpreparing

I am having so much trouble blogging regularly! I need to start blogging shorter, more frequent posts - that's my new goal!

I had a FANTASTIC weekend in Musandam, Oman and Dibba, U.A.E. We went on a dhow cruise in the gorgeous mountains. I snorkelled for the first time, and had a wonderful, relaxed two days in the water with my new friends. I'll share a photo of the beautiful landscape.

An example of the beautiful scenary and mountains in Oman!

I just wanted to quickly post today and openly admit something: I was underprepared for today at school. Please note that I wasn't unprepared; I was underprepared, as I like to be very, very prepared for my classes. Thus far, I always have lesson plans completed and resources at the ready (on Diigo – post about Diigo coming soon!). My colleagues and I just had no idea how late we would get back from our weekend, or how tired we would be.

By the time I got home yesterday around 5:30 pm, I was completely exhausted. My roommate and I ordered food (delivery is so cheap here! It’s a bad habit, but I don’t do it too often) and I just wanted to go to bed. I was trying to look through textbooks and create a unit plan, but my brain honestly couldn’t understand what it was reading.

I was able to continue planning before school and during preps today – normally I am planning for the next day, but today I was planning for the next lesson. All three of my lessons still went well and I feel as though the goals I had for those classes were still met (side note: we started Medieval Music in IB today – Gregorian Chant 101!).

There will always be extenuating circumstances for which teachers may not be prepared. Yes, having fun in Dibba is not a great excuse but I’m still happy with how I managed today. I didn’t teach my finest lessons of all-time, but I still taught the students and accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. Today was a learning day for me, and I can’t wait to have time and the brain power to plan tonight!!

Lesson learned: Plan the next week BEFORE you go to Dibba.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

IB Music Ramblings

The school I teach for is an International Baccalaureate world school. All grade 11 and 12 courses are IB courses, and students have the option to take the full IB diploma, take certain IB courses to obtain a certificate, or simply take the courses required to graduate with an American high school diploma (from the state of New York). The interesting thing about our course is that we literally only offer IB courses in grade 11 and 12 - no other "regular" streamed options.
Because a picture always makes a blog more enjoyable :)
I am teaching Grade 11 IB music this year, which is quite unfamiliar to me. I had no previous experience (and very little knowledge) about the IB program. I attended an IB Music training session in California in June which was extremely informative. We had a great workshop leader - a Floridian music educator who had just retired from teaching. I believe he had over 30 (possibly 40 - I can't remember!) students in his IB Music class the previous year. That is crazy! I also networked with several colleagues from all over - Canada, the United States, and the world. I'm still in touch with several of these educators through email and Facebook, and I hope that we stay in touch as our IB Music classes progress.

I currently have 8 students in my grade 11 class, which is the biggest cohort the music class has ever had, I believe. My co-teacher currently has 3 students in grade 12. My students are all higher level (HL) music students, which is really nice because I don't have to differentiate as much! The standard level (SL) has a slightly lighter course load and different options than the HL program. HL students also must take IB Music for 2 years, and we meet 9 times in a 10 day cycle. If I had SL students, they would only come to 6 of these 10 days, and I think it would have been more difficult to plan. The fact that these students are all entrusting music to be one of their HL also implies that they like music, or at least have some experience with music. I love to teach students who like music!

Anyway, the point of this blog was to mention the fact that since the beginning of school, I have been working on music theory with my IB Music students. In the IB Music program, students don't have to actually "do" theory. They never have to sit down and write out major scales, or prove that they can write an augmented fifth above a given note. HOWEVER, I strongly believe they need music theory knowledge to be successful in the IB program, as such emphasis is given on listening and perception (I'll save these ideas for another post sometime).

I started the year off with theory for a few reasons:

  • Firstly, I wasn't sure what the course has looked like in the past at my school, or what type of resources our school had for the IB program (textbooks, etc).
  • Secondly, I have always enjoyed theory. It's a very mathematical subject, as there are right and wrong answers and set rules to follow. I was good at theory, and I thought it would be relatively easy to teach (Spoiler alert: I was very wrong. But it's okay, we made it through!)
  • Thirdly, I think that music theory is a very important base for listening. I think students will be able to recognize minor or major chords with more ease if they understand how these chords are actually created, instead of aurally hearing chords as "happy" or "sad".
  • Fourthly, our workshop leader was kind enough to share a year outline with us, and he started with theory first. That's reason enough for me!

Almost four weeks later (as if I've been already teaching for almost a month!!!), and we're ready to move on. I have given the students two theory exercises for homework, and corrected them and gave them feedback. I didn't "mark" them, although I circled the answers they had that were incorrect. As per the students' request, I created a document for the students entitled "IB MUSIC THEORY RULES" which organized all of the rules I kept telling them (ex. a minor chord is a minor chord with the third lower one half-step!). This rule sheet is gold (go me!), but I don't think the students have the "rules" memorized; rather, they rely on their sheets to complete the given theory assignments.

As a class, we decided that tomorrow's test will be given in two parts. One part will allow the students to only see The Chart of Keys (another resource I will share at some point). Students will therefore have to rely on their memory and understanding for the majority of this part. I will collect these tests partway through the period. The second part to the test will be the EXACT SAME test, but students will complete it as an open-book test, using both their own notes and my “rule” document. This way, I will be able to see if students understand the concepts with help by seeing if they perform better on the open-book portion.

Does this make sense, or am I crazy?! I feel like it makes sense to me, and my students agreed, but we shall see what the results are! I plan on grading both tests.

Once I figure out how this whole sharing of resources on a blog thing works, I will attach this rule sheet HERE in case you are interested!

Again, I must reiterate how much more valuable and fun twitter can be when you unlock your account and actually interact with other educators! I have been following along with several chats recently, since several people I follow participate in chats such as #sbgchat (standards based grading) and #aledchat (which I believe stands for Alabama Education Chat… but people from other places are involved as well). I realize that my primary focus this year as a first-year teacher should be “SURVIVAL”, but I’m really intrigued by standards-based grading. I have barely even begun to scratch the surface of SBG, but what I have read so far makes a lot of sense: homework is to reinforce skills and concepts, and should not be graded; students are allowed to retake assessments; and it’s a matter of learning the skills, not when they learn them. I’m not planning on implementing anything drastic this year, but I will definitely continue to read and learn about it for future use!

Fun fact if you have actually read this far: It took me a couple of weeks to finally spell "Baccalaureate" with confidence :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Long-Term Planning

I have always been the organized type. Some of my friends from university will tell you that I am one of the most organized people they know. I like to think that organization is a desirable trait in a teacher, especially in terms of long-term planning.

Organization Example A: I am an extreme colour-coder. 

Since beginning teaching, however, I have found it difficult to plan and organize for the long-term. There are a few reasons for this:

1) I was unable to do much planning in the summer before moving here. I didn't know exactly what classes I would be teaching, what curriculum I would be following, what had been done in the past, what my co-teacher would want to do, what my room would look like, etc. Several of my friends were planning out units and lessons and going through their rooms and getting organized all throughout the summer - I didn't have this luxury!

2) Co-teaching: The other music teacher at my school and I are "co-teaching" the grade 9 and grade 10 music classes right now - aka, we're doing the same thing with both of our classes. I like the idea of co-teaching, but it makes planning somewhat difficult. So far I have found that it's hard to do a lot of the planning, timing, assessments, etc. together - it seems to make more sense for one of us to do something and then share it with the other person. My co-teacher has also been teaching for several years at this school, so he knows what he's doing, and he's quite laid back. I'm the complete opposite - I'm in my first teaching job and have a very type A personality, so I want to plan everything in advance (then adjust along the way as needed!)

I would rather take the time in advance to prepare a unit and have an idea of where I'm going with the students instead of taking the time each day to try and plan for the next day. 

Here's the problem: my school has an assessment calendar online for the parents and students to access. No student should have more than 3 pieces of assessment in one day (test, quizzes, etc. - this does not include assignments they've had time to work on in class). To ensure this, all faculty are expected to enter their assessments onto this calendar. Our due date for the assessment calendar was this Thursday, and we were expected to have all of our assessments for the first quarter (until November) on the calendar. AHH! My department tends to fly a bit under the radar (go Creative Arts!), and we don't adhere to the assessment calendar as formally as other classes such as Math and English. However, I still feel guilty that I haven't entered all of my assessments yet - but I don't yet know when or how I will be assessing most classes!

The grade 8s are my one exception. I sat down a couple of weekends ago and planned out my first unit for the grade 8 music class that I am teaching. The unit is "RHYTHM", and will take us to the end of quarter one. I mapped out objectives, formative and summative assessments, and even did a lesson-by-lesson breakdown of how we were going to get there. So far, two weeks later, we have stuck exactly to schedule, and I couldn't be happier. I know where we are going and what I am trying to get them to accomplish, and we're having a lot of fun in the process. Their assessments are firmly on the calendar, even though they don't technically know about them yet!

Today is Saturday, my last day of the weekend. I woke up early and managed not to fall back asleep, and have spent a lazy morning watching tv, cooking pancakes, etc. I am now sitting down with my laptop and determined to map out a couple more units (including assessment dates!!) for the grade 7 beginning band class, the grade 9 class, and the grade 11 IB music class. I'm trying to implement the backward-by-design type of assessment, where I think about the objectives and assessments first, and then create the steps to get there.

Any advice for a new teacher on long-term planning? Do you believe in long-term planning, or do you prefer to plan lessons on a short-term scale?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Giant Update!

First of all, I'm so sorry for not updating this blog more frequently! Can I use the excuse that I am a brand-new teacher and moved across the world recently? Yeah? Okay, thanks :)

All kidding aside, there have been so many moments where I have thought to myself, "this would be a great blog post!" I've shared snapshots of these moments on twitter (@emmaindubai). Here are some of these moments, in a super summarized form:

- I made it through my first 10-day school cycle (isn't a 10-day cycle the strangest concept?)!

- I had my one month anniversary on Sept. 15 - one month since I moved across the world!

- It's still incredibly hot here. I did an outside lunch supervision yesterday and it felt like 50 degrees. I was pretty sweaty by the time it was over. Fortunately, I didn't have any classes after!

- My first time trying to give homework, I legitimately said, "If it's okay with you, I'm going to ask
for this due tomorrow"... Of course it will be okay with them! I'm the teacher! Haha, I realized what I did and just enforced the fact that it was due tomorrow, and they all did it!

- My grade 8 students had such a good time making up and performing their body percussion pieces

- My grade 7 music students never fail to brighten my day and make me laugh. We went through the entire process of trying and choosing a band instrument. I was very stressed when almost half my class wanted to play the flute, and I really struggled to come up with a winning combination of my beginning band - but I think I found it! The strangest thing for me was that these kids aren't clamouring to play the trumpet - only one girl really did, and that's because I told her she was awesome at it (she is). I couldn't believe how many wanted to play the flute! I truly feel as though I presented the instruments in a similar way, although more kids struggled with the trumpets. Maybe it's a cultural difference - kids in North America want to be loud, and kids here want the smaller, "prettier" instrument? Who knows.

- IB Drama - I have agreed to supervise/advise an IB Drama play that 2 IB HL (higher level) drama boys will be producing. As part of their IB drama mark, the students must produce, direct, set design, etc. a play. I met the 2 boys I will be advising the other day. They seem really nice and I think they'll be good to work with. One is from Pakistan and one is from Honduras - yet again another reminder with how international my school is :) I'm slightly worried about the time committment for this program, as it will mostly be after school and weekend supervision/advising and I want to still have a social life, but I think it will be fun. Their play will be in December.

- I will be writing a separate post soon about the fact that our grade 9 and 10 music classes are basically following the same format as described in Lucy Green's Music, Informal Learning, and the School, a book we studied in university. It's really, really neat.

- Twitter: I am having WAY more fun on twitter now that I have unlocked my account, started blogging, starting reading blogs, am following more educators, have more followers, am actually tweeting to people, and have expanded my PLN in general. I was even asked to speak to a college class about teaching overseas over twitter! I'll definitely keep you updated if that ends up happening at some point in the next few months :)

- I'm also involved in 2 music teacher groups on facebook - a general one, which is mainly elementary music posts, and an IB Music Teachers group. I'm finding these PLNs very useful!

- I'm also having a lot of fun outside of school. I actually can't believe how much I did last weekend, and how much money and time I spent in and on cabs. Activities included: hot yoga, Thai dinner, ice cream, a long brunch, a restaurant for ladies' night, an apartment warming party, a beach bar, and going for fancy drinks way down in the Marina with a stunning view of the Burj Al Arab.

This might be my favourite photo of Dubai thus far! :)

- Exercise: I have gone to Bikram hot yoga three times with fellow teachers from school. I enjoy it, but I don't love it. I don't like the idea that the classes are all identical, following the same poses in the same order. I like variety! I am also upset that someone of my favourite poses aren't included in the set. I do like it for clearing my mind, and I certainly have never sweated that much in my life. I think I'm going to try and keep going at least once a week. It's also quite far away from my apartment - so it's expensive to take the class and pay for a cab home (I get a ride there).

- Exercise, II: One of our gym teachers runs a circuit training program for teachers over school. It started up again this week, and I really like it. I'm still feeling sore in my legs and back, two days later. I love that this happens right at school (and actually right in my building!), and it's over by 5:00 or 5:30. It's also totally reasonably priced, and he's totally willing to help you when you need. It's also pretty hilarious to work out with colleagues! I'm going to try and do 2 days of circuit training every week.

- My roommate and I hired a cleaning lady for the first time! This is a really common here, and most teachers have some type of hired help, whether it is to clean, cook, iron, nanny, etc. The lady we hired actually works with my roommate as a classroom helper, so we felt like hiring her was a great choice. She's also a single mom, and cleans on the weekend to make a bit of extra money. She brought a friend with her, and they thoroughly cleaned our apartment over four hours! It was fantastic, and definitely way cleaner than when we moved in. We're going to get her to come every 2 weeks, and it really is an incredile bargain!

- I'm going to Oman next weekend on a Dhow cruise! The outdoor education teacher from our sister school sent out some emails yesterday that really excited me. Part of it was this trip to Oman! I'm looking forward to meeting new people, being on a Dhow, visiting a new country, and snorkleing and generally relaxing on the beach, although it's still supposed to be hot.

- Also included on this email was information about becoming certified as a PADI open water diver. I'm fairly certain I am going to do the beginner's course, which includes lessons on theory, pool dives, and real dives! Diving is always something that I thought I would like to do, but I've never really had a chance. Several of my colleagues are divers, and it seems like such a great hobby.

- Eid break - we have one week off in October, and my friend and I are trying to plan a trip. We were originally thinking Sri Lanka, then India, and we still have no idea. So much of the world is our oyster, and it's kind of overwhelming (such a first-world problem, I know). Hopefully we'll book flights somewhere soon! I'm excited to get out of the HEAT of Dubai and go somewhere for relaxation, sight-seeing, ethnic food, and general exploring :)

I think that's almost everything that I wanted to update... in general, everything is going really well! School is stressful but fun, and I'm also having a good time outside of school!

I hope everyone back home is doing well. I have internet so I can skype or FaceTime people, especially during my evenings (mid-morning - lunch time, Manitoba time). Let me know if you wish to skype, or just continue to keep in touch via email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, etc. :)

Monday, September 09, 2013

Just one class

Isn't it funny how just one class can change your mind and attitude?

I was worried about my grade 9 class today. Today was only the third time I've seen them since the beginning of school. The first class was fine, as it was mostly introductory topics such as filling out a questionnaire for me and just chatting and getting to know the students. Two days ago, however, I had a really rough class with the grade 9s. After looking over their questionnaires, I realized a lot of them needed a lot more work with theory - so that's where I started.  I found the class to be talkative, disengaged, and as a whole, generally kind of rude (although several kids were fine). This is yet another class that is 3/4 filled with boys with big personalities. The students know they are going to rehearsing and performing in small groups in this class, and they were chomping at the bit to perform. I left the class feeling badly about my teaching and worried for the upcoming semester.

I talked to my co-teacher today, and we made a plan for our grade 9 classes, and how we're going to alternate "rehearsal" and "written work" times. I was therefore able to give my students a concrete day for their first performance in November, and I explained that we would be alternating weeks with the other grade 9s for rehearsing and doing written work. I didn't really have a plan for today's class, since I hadn't talked to my co-teacher about what to do with the grade 9s until right before the lesosn, so I was kind of winging it. I really don't want to be a teacher who is constantly winging lessons, although it's understandable once every now and then.

I decided to do a listening exercise with them, as I had two tracks prepared from our grade 10 diagnostic test. We listened to Thunderstruck by AC/DC and analyzed the components of the music as a class (instruments, rhythm, melody, form, style, and other). This activity is basically super preparing the students for the IB Music course, two years in advance (I will write a blog post about teaching students to listen at the IB level at some point!). I then asked them to break into small groups and complete the same exercise with Three Little Birds by Bob Marley. We then discussed their answers as a class. I then gave them the last 10 minutes to start talking amongst themselves and forming groups for their upcoming performance.

As a whole, the majority of the students were much better behaved and much more engaged with this lesson (although one boy was falling asleep...but I don't think it was completely my fault?!). Perhaps it's a good idea to start with something more "fun" and "engaging" when first getting to know a class, rather than the basics of music theory? It worked for my grade 8s and 10s, but not for this class. Some of the grade 9s made great observations, and they all worked well in their small groups. I also think that they were able to calm down now that they know rehearsing and playing is in the very near future. I'm expecting that once we get to know each other better, I will hopefully be able to teach an informative theory lesson, especially if I make the theory more meaningful to their small group rehearsals (take rhythms from their pieces, etc.).

I just wanted to blog quickly about this today, because my feelings toward the grade 9 class have almost completely changed from yesterday to today! It's amazing what can happen in just one class (even if it wasn't prepared!)

Shout out to AC/DC and Bob Marley for making today's lesson go much better!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

First Week Reflections

One more class, and then it's the weekend! (It's Thursday, around lunchtime at the moment).

I am so happy to say that the first week of school went well! Of course, there were parts that could gone more smoothly, but that's life.

I think I'm going to enjoy all my classes. I have such a wide variety - Grade 7 Beginning Band, Grade 8 General Music with the class being 3/4 boisterous boys, Grade 9 Music (who I've only seen once), Grade 10 Music, and Grade 11 International Baccalaureate Music. On one hand, I'm really glad I have the variety, because it makes the day much more interesting to teach a wide variety of concepts to different ages and abilities. On the other hand, compared to the teachers I was with during student teaching, I think this is going to a lot more preparatory work. I don't mean this an insult, but I think it's a lot easier to plan day-to-day for 5 band classes, or 5 choir classes than 5 separate classes, especially when the repertoire drives a lot of the instruction. 

I'm really looking forward to taking time this weekend and really working on long-term plans for my classes - units, assignments and assessments, day-to-day plans, etc. This week was a lot of introduction activities, such as musical surveys and diagnostic tests, but I found planning everything day-to-day to be frustrating. I would rather take a larger chunk of time and plan more long-term than do a bit of planning of every day. 

I also have been having trouble doing a lot of planning and preparatory work while actually at school on my prep periods. I'm not sure why - perhaps it's because I'm in my room, not in my office? I'm not sure, but I seem to be much more productive while working on my laptop while sitting in bed, late at night. This is NOT a habit that I want to get into, as I have been exhausted this week. I know I will get into a routine, as going to be at 12:30 - 1:30 and getting up at 6:00 is not a sustainable routine. My goal for the weekend is to sleep in until 9:00, possibly 10:00. I did go shopping for school supplies earlier this week (both at our school store and for myself), and I finally feel much more organized now that I have a binder with daily plans, etc. Here's a picture of my desk in my office, looking much better than it did before!

Check out the two ringed binder!!!!! I find it so strange.

My department (Creative Arts) will also eventually get desks in our Departmental Office space - I'm looking forward to that!       

I'm also continually on the hunt for resources. I found a bunch of wonderful IB resources last night, and again, am looking forward to having the time this weekend to go through them and try to make a tentative two-year plan for the IB students!

My grade 8s are coming in 15 minutes - we're starting our rhythm unit today. I know it's late on a Thursday (Canadian teacher: translate to Friday), but I'm going to be strict today, because I sense that these boys will continue to be boisterous unless I put a stop to it right now. It's only their second lesson, so we'll have to establish routines!

I hope all my fellow new teachers are having a great week with their students!! I believe they are able to start their second or third day with their students :)

Have a great weekend, everybody! Here's a few pictures I took of the actual school this week.

 Looking toward the main building of school. The Elementary wing is on our left, and the Secondary wing is on our right. 

I took this one while on lunch duty in 44 degree Celsius heat! The new Multi-Purpose Hall (where I spend 90%) of my time is the building in the background with the big black glass windows. The cafeteria is front of that, and the gym is to the right (where my roommate lives!). I have to walk this stretch frequently from the main building to the Multi-Purpose Hall!

Monday, September 02, 2013

First Day!

I survived my first day at school! It actually wasn't too bad, although I still felt very unprepared. I was making photocopies and getting myself organized right until the minute the students came into my class. I take a bus to and from school every day, which makes it hard to really complete what I want to do, since I'm working on someone else's schedule. The first week in Dubai, our bus picked us up at 8:30 am. The next week, it moved back to 8:00 am. We had a couple of mornings where it was at 7:30 am (one memorable morning was the day we went to do a blood test at a government clinic...). Now, finally, the bus is set at its standard time: 7:00 a.m. Ahhh!! This means I have to get up at 6:00-6:15 every week day morning! I'm not exactly a morning person, although I am usually pretty good at getting up if I have a reason (in this case, school is the reason). The bus had been leaving from school at 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm for the past two weeks, but now, the bus is also set in its standard schedule: 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm. I can't wait until I get a car, because I'm finding it so hard to co-ordinate my schedule to the bus' schedule! I could always grab a taxi, but that will get expensive.

Anyway, onto my actual day! I had 3 of my 5 classes today - the ones about which I have been feeling confident! I made all three classes fill out surveys for me to let them know about their musical background and a bit about the students. After seeing the answers, I'm really glad I did this. I have quite a range of musical backgrounds for most classes.

Grade 11 IB was up first, and went well! I have 8 students. I was under the impression that they were about half and half mixed between Higher Level (more demanding course load and time) and Standard Level (less), however, to my delight, I found out that they are all apparently taking Higher Level! This will definitely make the class a lot easier to plan, since they all have the same requirements, and some Standard Level options are no longer an option (for example, in HL, students must submit a solo performance portfolio. Group performance is an option in SL, but I was going to discourage it. Now it's completely out of the picture!). I think the Grade 11s were pretty overwhelmed - being bombarded with IB courses and outlines on their first day of Grade 11 must get pretty intense! They seemed really nice and quite quiet, but I'm sure that will change once they warm-up. All of them will be playing guitar or piano for their major instrument - I'm totally okay with that! I have a LOT of planning still to do with this class, but I'm looking forward to it. I think it'll be a good challenge for me. The IB Music course deals a lot with music history and theory, very similar to first-year university music courses. I'm looking forward to going back and reviewing everything I learned in first-year history, and sharing the knowledge! If only I could have brought my notes with me to Dubai :( I tried to scan them but with the vast amount of history notes I have, it would have simply taken hours and hours that I didn't have.

My Grade 7 class also went well. They all seem to be excited about beginning band!!! I'm glad, since my school hasn't had any semblance of a band program in the past year or two. I have 11 students - just the right number for 2 flutes, 2-3 clarinets, 2-3 trumpets OR 2-3 trombones, and 1-2 euphoniums! That's how I'm hoping to structure the band for the first little bit, and then we'll see what happens in the future. I don't have any major percussion equipment, so I probably won't have any dedicated percussionists - perhaps students will be split percussion and another instrument. We do have saxophones, so people may be able to switch partway through the year. We also have a French horn which is broken at the moment, but I would love to have a little horn player next year. We also have 2 brand-new bass clarinets, but I would want to wait until the student was in grade 8. I'm looking forward to this band program! I think it will be something new and exciting again for the school. We have a Holiday and a Year-End Recital already booked, and I can't wait for the Grade 7s to play for the Grade 6s at the end of the year to recruit for next year!  

Grade 8s are the class today that is causing me a bit of stress. I have 20 students, 14 or 15 (I can't remember!) of which are boys. Several of these boys are extremely talkative and outgoing. I'm definitely going to have to work on my classroom management skills with this class, and think of fun, educational, music activities that will appeal to grade 8 boys... and also to girls. Any ideas? Everyone definitely seems exciting by a Stomp unit, but after today's class, I'm certainly not trusting these kids around garbage cans yet! I think we might start with body percussion - they can't slap their body thaaaat loudly, right?! ;)

Tomorrow is another day with the grade 7s and I see the grade 10s for the first time! The grade 7s are doing flute tomorrow :) we're spending one class on each instrument and giving them all a chance to try them out before deciding. I still don't really know what I'm doing with the grade 9s and 10s. My co-teacher disappeared after school today so I didn't have a chance to talk to him about it - it's an adventure, that's for sure!

The kids do seem really sweet, and if talking is my biggest discipline problem, I know I'm very lucky! The kids refer to all female teachers as "Miss" constantly, which is already getting a little grating.

-"Miss! It's cold in here!" (yes, yes it is kids. I made a point of telling them I was from Canada and my room would be cold from here on out). 
-"Miss! Miss! Can I go to the bathroom, Miss?" 
-Perhaps my favourite compliment today: "You are rocking these names, Miss!" after I successfully pronounced some tricky names (soooo many foreign names. You have no idea until you teach in an international school!)

Overall, it was a great first day. I was way more nervous than I expected, but I know that will go away in a few weeks. It's definitely going to be a hard year in terms of planning and preparation, but I'm excited! I'm about to go shopping for groceries and a bunch of school supplies to get organized (that reminds me, I need to post a picture of their two-holed binders. It's honestly one of the things that has made me the most uncomfortable since moving to the Middle East. Seriously.). I'm looking forward to the next few days, and already looking forward to the weekend to relax and long-term plan! 

Also, just a quick shout-out to my colleagues from school who are starting their first jobs in the next few days!!! I'm sending you my best wishes from across the world. We've got this :)

(First day of school picture - awkwardly taken with my self-timer app on my iPhone!)