Category Archives: Student Teaching

My last day of school…Bluebird Vegetarian Cafe

What a day.  Basically the moment I walked in the door, I was bombarded by little cards with various pictures and messages that said things like, “thank you” and “good luck” and “we will miss you” and “you are a great teacher.”

I also received this crown.   I know you’re jealous:

My class is honestly the most lovely bunch ever.  As I called the role, they said things like, “please try and keep in touch” or “have a nice trip” or “we will miss you” instead of just “good morning.”  My special time for the class was in the morning.  My gift to them was a copy of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”

I simply had to, it’s simply the best message I could leave for them.  My voice cracked as I read it, reflecting on all the places I’ve gone in the past 5 months…

They loved the book, but really loved my message:

Thank you so much for welcoming me into your class with open arms, hearts, and minds.  You have helped me learn so much about being a teacher – especially the magic that happens when can all be friends.

You each have a special place in my heart, and I will never forget my class of Kiwi children as long as I live.  Thank you so much for the memories that I will certainly treasure forever.

Remember to always be excited to learn.  Remember to be creative and curious.  Remember to love those around you and treat them with respect.  Remember to smile.  Remember that soon you will grow up to be the leaders of our world, and if you work hard, you can do anything you dream of.

Next, the real fun began…I taught them a thing or two about Vermont!  I made a slideshow of Vermont-y pictures: UVM, foliage, maple syrup, sugar-on-snow, Shelburne Farms, Cheddar Cheese, FeelGood, Lake Champlain, apple picking, The Giant Pumpkin Regatta, skiing, Stowe, and apple cider.  Oh, and me in Ghia, thrown in there because I couldn’t think how to end it 😉  They were fascinated!

They actually spent most of the day writing about what they learned.  A lot, apparently!  I have all the write-ups and can’t wait to read through them when I get a chance.  I got a little preview and they are certainly making me smile: “Vermont has lots of trees, but not just ANY trees!”

And I got more than Vermont write-ups!  Each child decorated a Takahe bird (their team name, also a native NZ bird) and wrote a message on it for me.   I love this because I sometimes refer to my class as my “flock.”

On the more serious side, I also did a lot of Maths testing today.  It was just a simple interview where I tested them at each stage to see their level. It was actually really interesting to see everything that I learned about “maths strategy stages” through my Uni class in real life!  I guess I have been learning a lot, and it’s all pretty legit!

During lunch break, I enjoyed a little bit of the leftover chili from the potluck, plus a good piece of bread I snagged from it, too!

After lunch, I led some choral reading (so much better than Round Robin, let me tell YOU!) but the best part was that I got to use the fancy pointer.  I seriously need one of those sparkly rainbow wands when I grow up!

The entire afternoon was dedicated as a special “Miss Jenkins Farewell” time.  I got several special performances.  First up: a play!  Based off a Skippyjon Jones story that I read to them a few weeks ago.

Some girls acted it out the story while another girl narrated.  Here was my program:

It was adorable!  Then, one of my favorite students (wait, teachers don’t have favorites!!!) sang me a Foo Fighter’s song.  As if my heart hadn’t already become a puddle on the floor.  Then, each child performed their body rhythm pattern they have been working on all week.  Some were very precise, others catchy, others creative!  Those kids have got the beat!

Then, they sang for me my favorite song in their repertoire: “Just One Earth.”  And the tears begin!!!  But apparently that wasn’t enough of a gift 😉 ….

My mentor class gave me the most thoughtful present.  First, a lovely cushion-case with Pukekos (a Takahe relative) on it.   I can’t wait to see this pillow on the (hot pink!) couch in my apartment!

Second, a beautiful paua shell necklace and card.  The tears continued.  Are you getting this image?

Thirdly, a little Takahe shelf decoration.  Isn’t he cute???!

It was all too much 🙂  I was overwhelmed.

We did stick to some of the Thursday afternoon routine: certificates.  Guess who won “Student of the Week?”


But then, the bell rang.  The school day was officially over.  Shirley asked who wanted to formally say a word of thank-you to me on behalf of the entire class, which is a customary practice in New Zealand.  About half the class frantically volunteered, so Shirley let a handful of kids speak.  It was so touching.  One of the most precious moments of my life.  Here, I was given my farewell card. With glitter, no less!

Of course, I couldn’t let them go empty-handed, so I let each child choose a funky pencil.

Hugs goodbye, all around.

But the fun doesn’t stop there!!!  Shirley and I had a date to go to Bluebird Vegetarian Cafe, a cute place I’ve passed on Dominion Rd each day going to and fro school.

Of course anything with “vegetarian” in the name makes my ears perk up, but I was even more excited to go when a woman I met at yoga told me how much she liked it.  Shirley, being the sweetest woman on the planet that she is, insisted that Hannah come, too! When we arrived, we felt completely serene and calm, relaxed and energized despite the crazy we’d just had.

Even though I miss brewed coffee like a Cullen misses blood, I REALLY appreciate that all the good cafes in New Zealand give you a complimentary sweet with your latte.  On the sid eof our mini berry coffee cake ;), we got chai lattes (made with homemade blended tea).  I didn’t even have to ask for soymilk–she asked our milk preference right away.

It was very flavorful and spicy, just the way I like it.

While we waited for Hannah, I was happy to finally express my undying gratitude to Shirley and give her the gifts I picked out for her.  It pales in comparison to everything she’s done for me, but luckily, I have a way with words.

I cannot thank you enough for being my NZ mentor; I was so lucky to have you and it was simply destiny that we were matched.  You taught me so many valuable things about what it means to be a good teacher.  You taught me so much about the value of spontaneous learning experiences and how to integrate them smoothly into your day: flexibility.  You taught me the importance of a good sense of humor: joy.  Most importantly, you taught me so much about how important it is to know your students as individuals: love.  Thank you for teaching me that if I can be flexible, joyful, and love each one of my students, then I can do this, and do it well.  Thank you for every opportunity, small and great.  Thank you for your generosity, compassion, and insights.  And please, keep in touch!

Then, my small gifts:

Simply a pretty mug and some dark chocolates.  She gushed and gushed over my humble gesture, because that’s just the kind of woman she is ❤

Now, onto the food…  When Shirley asked for recommendations, the waitress said, “Well, it depends on what you eat.  Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free?”  SWOON!  I told her I had no restrictions but I preferred vegan.  Shirley basically ordered everything that I mentioned sounded good.  We all shared a bit of everything:

Cashew, Potato, Broccoli Cake with Chutney

Vegetable "Rice Cake"

Legume "Neatloaf" with Mushroom Gravy

Roasted Root Veggie & Green Salad

Good food and good conversation?  Shirley and I should have gone every week!  It was the perfect way to end the internship.

And as if all THAT wasn’t enough, look what Shirley got for us on the way out:

She asked, “do you like chocolate cake?”  Well, I couldn’t lie to a woman I respect so much!

…did you think that was it?

Her question about those were, “would you eat those?”  Ummm, yes!  She certainly knows how to ask leading questions 😉

Apparently she hadn’t quite done enough for us, because she insisted on driving us home, and pulled right up in front of our door, asking if we were safe :).  There is no other way to say it: I love Shirley.  I will miss her so much!  I had such an amazing experience in her class, and it was truly all because of her.

When I got home, I had these three messages in my inbox:

HA!  Sounds like my brother’s journey is off to a memorable start.  He is in the air somewhere over the Pacific Ocean right now.  Please send him positive energy!  He lands around 6am, New Zealand time.

Even though I’m about to study my bum off for my Maori Culture final tomorrow until I fall asleep, I am feeling positively incandescent with happiness.  I’ve just had an incredible end to an incredible NZ practicum, and my brother arrives in a matter of hours to kick off our week of traveling.

Yay, life!!!   😀



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand, Student Teaching, Travel

Bronze Trivia Medalist & International Potluck Kai

I am thrilled to announce that last night at Father Ted’s trivia, Hannah and I came in 3rd place!!!!  That’s much better than second-to-last and it a heck of a lot better than DFL!!!  I thought it was pretty easy this week, but it was also helpful that our knowledgeable Mexican friend was there playing pool for a bit and kept popping over to give us answers he knew.  Regardless, it’s pretty impressive just the two of us were able to snag 3rd place.  We got a massive 40 points (we usually get about 22, lol) and here is just some of the stuff we knew:

  1. What TV shows takes place in the hospital Sacred Heart?  (becca ;))
  2. Natalie Portman won an Oscar for her role in which 2010 movie?
  3. What is the family’s last name in the Home Alone movies?
  4. In golf, what is it called when you score 2 under par?
  5. Who originally sang the song “Hotel California” (this was the luckiest guess of my life)
  6. In which decade was the electric hairdryer first seen?  20s, 40s, or 60s?
  7. Who did a 2003 cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi?”
  8. Who’s song “I’m Yours” is rapidly becoming one of the best-selling song on iTunes?
  9. In what year did Green Day’s album “American Idiot” release?
  10. What is a traditional song played by trumpet or brass instruments?
  11. In what century was Abraham Lincoln born?
  12. Who was the lead singer of No Doubt?

But the big picture round really put us to the over the top.  We were able to identify teenaged pictures of:

  1. Julia Roberts
  2. Kathy Bates
  3. Jamie Foxx
  4. Anne Hathaway
  5. Taylor Swift
  6. Jessica Alba
  7. Queen Latifa
  8. Bradley Cooper
  9. Ashton Kutcher
  10. Patrick Dempsey
  11. Jennifer Garner

and we also guessed the common link between them all.

We squealed with pleasure after each one of our correct answers was called and we felt SHOCKED to get third place.  We are essentially Bronze Medalists of Pub Quiz now!  Not only did we come in third, but we were served my favorite complimentary snack to share between the two of us:

POTATO WEDGES!!! They were great brain fuel; I can probably attribute 75% of my victory to these bad boys.   The red wine helped to.  And I do owe the Mexican some credit.

My super fun night was followed by an uuber busy day.  All before 11:30, I made flashcards for my Maori final, cooked a pot of chili, and wrote 4 heart-felt thank you notes in preparation for my last day of school tomorrow.  Whew!

At noon I was rewarded with a yoga class!  I went to a Beginner’s Ashtanga class at Auckland Yoga Academy and used up the last class on my 10-pass card.  😦  It was with my favorite teacher, who isn’t very warm and fuzzy, but she gives the BEST adjustments ever.  Seriously, they are heavenly.  I can’t believe that it was my last class in NZ.  That means, the next class I go to will not only be in Doylestown, but it will be on June 26th!!!!  That time’s gonna fly.

I had class for the rest of the afternoon, which was really quite fun.  We had a lecture on Maori education by an ex-Maori Primary school teacher (who also reminded me a lot of my Nanny), so obviously I was wrapped with attention.  It really sounded just like education in the US in those times (what with corporal punishment and such) except they rode horses to school and being forced to assimilate to European, or Pakeha, culture.  It’s amazing how resiliently they held onto their culture and customs.  Auckland positively shines with Maori culture, and I’m really gonna miss it.

After our lecture, we were given a mock final exam to study from (can you guess what I’ve been doing all evening????) and then we had an international potluck kai.  (“Kai” basically means a celebratory meal.)  Everyone (most of us are international students) brought in a dish that is traditional to our home culture.  I made chili (which came out spicier than I’d planned) and Hannah made brownies.  Check out my plate, Round 1, without touching anything “American!”

The most delicious potato salad, fruity pasta salad, spinach quiche, feijoa muffins, clam cakes, fried dough, jam flatbread, dressed mussels, Dutch breakfast loaf, some kind of meat with a German name, and some kind of tasty-cake-like Korean cookie.  I ate waaaaay too much, but when else am I going to have access to all of this home-cooked, authentic, international food at once?

In addition, everyone has to prepare a song from their home culture.  Hannah and I performed “The 5 Little Pumpkins.”  We explained about Halloween at this season back in the states, and how we are teachers and often sing this song to our class.  We got lots of smiles, which is all I care about.

The Maori students performed a wonderful Maori song.  It’s so cool how nonchalantly they pulled out a guitar and sang in perfect harmony, with so much soul.  They were raised that way, and it’s a beautiful thang.  Another notable performance was by two New Zealanders who sang the NZ national anthem (which is SO PRETTY) first in Maori, then in English, and doing the NZ Sign Language signs both times, too.  Too cool.  Other Americans did “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies” and “I’m Gonna Let it Shine.”  The Germans did their national anthem–very bashfully, I might add!  Another New Zealand guy said he didn’t have anything prepared, but he is in a reggae band and he gave us his CD.  Sweeeet, bra!!  There is lots of reggae in NZ (with all the surfer dudes, you know), so I’m excited to have some authentic jams in my iTunes!

Then, my professor sang for us and I cried.  The traditional Maori music is so beautiful, and it really hit me how much I have grown to love the Maori culture.  I have been sung to in Maori countless times, and that was probably the last time I’ll get a personal performance.  Good thing I’ve learned a few songs to take back 🙂

At the end of class, they put out tupperware so that we could each fill one up with whatever leftovers we wanted and take it home!

But for now, back to studying…

Know any of the trivia answers?



  1. Scrubs
  2. Black Swan
  3. McCallister
  4. Eagle
  5. The Eagles
  6. 20s
  7. Counting Crows
  8. Jason Mraz
  9. 2004
  10. Fanfare
  11. 19th
  12. Gwen Stefani
  13. Celebrity link: roles in the 2010 movie “Valentine’s Day”


Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, School, Student Teaching, Travel, Yoga

Tomato Carrot Risotto

I woke up bright and early this morning to run, and guess what??? Run, I did! I was gone for about 40 minutes and though I had to walk a lot (it’s amazing how quickly I fall out-of-shape) I think I ran for at least 15 minutes of it.  My muscles were tired, but there was absolutely no joint pain.  I’ll take it!  I would also like to share that I was very hot and sweaty.

I know, family, that I just warned you about how cold and rainy it would be when you arrive. I guess just be prepared for the unexpected!

Since my run was successful and I was feeling pretty on-to-of-the-world, I cracked down and chugged out my final reflection paper on my practicum.  I’ve copied it below, in case you are interested 😉   Then, continuing the productive-ness, I went to the library to print out my Maths assignment, which occurred without a hitch (well, on my part.  Hannah had some difficulties.  There’s always something at that place!)  Now I am that much closer to being on summer vacation!  I just need to study for and take my Maori culture final on Friday….

It’s 10:30am at this point and it hits me: I had not had my coffee OR oatmeal yet!!! I guess my early AM dates gave me all the nourishment and power I needed…up until then lol.  Not one to skip I meal, I whipped up a simple bowl of apple oatmeal…without peanut butter!!! Shocking, I know.  Our tub is dwindling and frankly, I didn’t need it.  It was deliciously simple.  I might even try oatmeal without any fruit soon!  But that seems just a little too carb-y.  I feel like I’ll need fruity nutrients?  Rambling.  Sorry.

Very soon after my fundamentalist bowl of oatmeal, I had lunch because, well, it was lunchtime!  And I was hungry!  Running makes me hungry 🙂  I quickly sauteed some of the leftover chopped veggies (mushrooms, peppers, and onions) from last night, which I plopped on top of a piece of toast with sundried tomato hummus.

That hummus is to DIE for.  Seriously, the taste is out-of-this-world.  I can’t right now, but I’ll snap a photo of the package tomorrow so y’all can go buy it.  Of course, and of it was all on top of some lettuce!

Scrumptious!  After lunch, I had my last education class, during which we talked about Montessori schools (a type of schooling system that, at least for maths, uses solely tactile materials to teach concepts).  Several unbelievable things happened during class today.

  1. We had a guest speaker talking to us about the Montessori schools, and at times she would ask us to gather around a table to watch a demonstration.  Well, some of the NZ biddies just stayed in their seats, chatting and dicking (language–sorry but I am disgruntled) around on their laptops.
  2. I was watching a demonstration from my chair, and one of them stood DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME.  Literally, his ass (again, pardon my French) was in my face.
  3. We had to read a handout and then discuss with out groupmates what we thought were the most important things.  Well, as my group started discussing, one of the biddiest of the NZ biddies shushed me!!!!

Unbelievable on so many levels.  What did I do?  Continued to be the good student and respectful classmate that I am.  And felt very righteous for it.

On the bus home, my friends Rose and Becca told Hannah and I about this awesome pancake place they discovered, right by the bus stop.  I didn’t need much convincing to tag along for a post-class snack 😉

For just nz$3 a pancake, Hannah and I decided to split a chocolate one.

There they are, sliding about in the oil!

Rose, Me, Hannah, and Becca

Hot + ready = excited girls! 😉

Imma eat-chooo!!!

Two words: yum and wow.  It sort of tasted like funnel cake-meet-chocolate chip pancake.  I can only pray that this doesn’t become a habit.  Thanks for introducing me, Rose and Becca!

When I got home, I did some logistical work on my computer, then promptly started cooking.  Dreading another night of stir-fry, I convinced my self that I could make tomato risotto with brown rice and the (ghastly) tomato paste still in the fridge.  I started by sauteeing two cloves of garlic with as much of the Italian Herb Paste as I could squeeze out (running on empty!).  Then, I added the tomato paste and some soymilk.  There was WAY too much garlic!  I never thought I’d see the day.  Hannah had the great idea of adding some veggies, so she shredded half a carrot as I added more and more soymilk.  We just kept adding and tasting until finally, we nailed it!

With the rice, it made an nearly perfect combination!  For a few minutes there, I thought the meal was a destined failure, but with a little teamwork, we made it happen!

What was your latest triumphant kitchen experiment?


Here is my final reflection on my NZ school placement, in case you are interested.  It’s a sorta formal write-up for my professor back at UVM, so it focuses mostly on the technical teacher stuff. 

I have learned a lot from my placement here in New Zealand, but there are two things that will leave a lasting impression: grouping by ability and Guided Reading.  The entire numeracy and literacy programs in my class have essentially been set up with ability groups and small-group instruction.  There are rarely mixed-ability groups, which at first I thought would create a stigma of the “lowest” or “best” group, but the instructional benefits outweigh those issues.  It is much easier to create lessons that are geared toward individuals, it is easier to track progress, and it provides developmentally appropriate instruction.  All of which benefits their learning.  In literacy, the teacher-guided small ability-group lessons are called “Guided Reading” sessions.  Guided reading is a great way to teach literacy by ability because you can read a book together at the students’ level and take the time to go over the bits you want to focus on.  Plus, in the small group, students will feel secure enough to take risks and ask questions.

Dominion Road Primary school had a very effective and well-developed behavior management system that I learned a lot from.  The vice principal, Brenda, taught me everything in our interview.  They use antecedent strategies to prevent behaviors, which I think is key to preventing bad behaviors from happening.  By making the behavior expectations clear and setting up a positive, supportive environment, then students won’t need to act out.  Behavior problems will always occur, and I have learned two strategies for dealing with them.  For menial misbehavior, it is good to ask the students if they are making a good choice.  This gives them the power to change their own behavior and show you that they know what is good behavior.  A major conflict can be solved by debriefing the situation with the student(s) involved.  A fair, supportive conversation about a management issue is the most diplomatic way to address problems and it gives students tools to use those same strategies to solve their own problems in the future.  In addition, I learned the importance of balancing the lesson and school day with individual work, group work, whole-class instruction, and free time so that students stay on-task.  Even better, I did not find any discrepancies in my research and Responsive Classroom readings about American styles of behavior management.  Kids are kids, anywhere in the world.

Though my mentor teacher has given me a lot of praise, I still would like to work on a few things before student teaching.  For example, I want to make sure that I am continually planning what my next steps will be.  It is not only important to assess how the students did with a certain lesson, but it’s even more important to know what to do next to help them move on or get more instruction on something they don’t understand.  I also think that I can always be working on understanding the standards and keeping my lessons aligned.  It is so difficult with a diverse class, but it’s important to stick to the objectives and make sure that you are teaching the students the appropriate skills and/or content.

Pre-planning my lessons has really helped me feel more confident as a teacher.  It helps me to keep the learning objectives in mind as I am teaching, and it gives me an opportunity to plan for my behavior management.  When I have prepared the strategies I want to use, it prevents behavior disruptions from getting in the way of my class’s learning.  I also think that I need to do a lot of background research when I am planning a lesson.  I need to be prepared for the types of questions that my class might ask me about a certain topic we are reading about.  I want to make sure that I have enough background knowledge to contribute to their learning and inspire their curiosity.  I would also like to work on planning what to do if a lesson takes a completely different turn.  For example, if the students are completely lost or over-confident during the warm up, I would want to plan some alternative activities to do in case I feel like the lesson would not be worthwhile.

It has been really exciting to notice my role as a teacher change throughout the beginning of this semester.  I am doing more full-block teaching than I ever thought I would be allowed to do at this stage.  At first, I just lead parts of a lesson or a transition into a break.  Now I am doing all of that and more!  Its been really helpful to feel that independence, and the corresponding responsibility, because now I have much more of an idea of what it will be like to have the class for the entire day.  I have also become much more of a legitimate assessor.  I used to think that I could just observe assessment because I wasn’t qualified enough to actually conduct them and have the results count for something; but now, after the TGMI and all of my running records, I feel like I am equipped with the knowledge to make comprehensive assessments on students.

When I think about the past semester, I feel really good about my overall style of teaching.  I think that my priorities really shined through.  My number one goal to being a good teacher is to get to know each of my students as a person, and I feel like I really did that with my class.  It certainly helped my instruction to be more individualized since I knew their interests, weaknesses, and gifts.  My teacher gave me a lot of feedback about how my caring, compassionate nature and positivity created a non-threatening environment where students felt comfortable and even excited to learn.  That was my main goal, so I’m glad that I accomplished it!

My next steps in my process of becoming a teacher is to really look at inquiry learning and how to integrate it into my numeracy and literacy programs.  I want to do more research about science and social studies that I can easily incorporate into my literacy programs (with things such as magazines) and my numeracy program (with things such as science experiments).  My school in New Zealand focused a lot on fitness, music, and art, but the core curriculum was rarely tied into it.  I’m excited to discover ways to make for more wholesome, realistic learning experiences.  I also think it would be helpful to get to know the US standards like the back of my hand, since, compared to the New Zealand standards, they are really logical and essential for driving instruction.

Honestly, the most important thing that I will take away from this experience is my class.  I will never forget my little class full of Kiwi children.  I will never forget their little accents and how they “corrected” my pronunciation and spelling.  I will never forget about how eager they were to learn more about America and to teach me about New Zealand.  I will never forget how sweetly nurturing they were when they learned that I lost my grandmother.  I will never forget the relationships I made with them, and it makes me sad that in a few weeks, I will be half a world away from them.  But, as they remind me with song, we all live on “Just One Earth” and we will always be connected.


Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, Running, School, Student Teaching, Travel

Too Much Chocolate?

Today was full of all those fun, silly, cute, nice things that some teachers can only hope for.

Sunrise from this morning

I am going to miss those children…terribly.

I started the day while my teacher was in an IEP meeting.  I called the role, which is always exciting because instead of saying “here” like the American punks do, they say, “Good Morning, Miss Jenkins,” in their home language.  Today, I decided to teach them about my Italian grandmother and how she mights say, “Ciao!” or “Bon Giorno!”  Then, we looked up where Italy is on the map.  (In case you didn’t know, it’s the one in Europe that looks like a boot ;))  I love integrating inquiry!!! #teachernerd

While we were still in a worldly mood, one of our Chinese students from Canada (she is VERY worldly indeed!) sang, “O Canada” to the class.  I was beaming the entire time at how cute and brave she was, also feeling reminiscent about my time learning Canada’s national anthem in high school for our choir trip to Montreal.  It’s really a lovely song!   She felt like a star after her round of applause and she truly deserves it, as one of our most distinguished academics in the class.

To wrap up the morning, I we read Stanley Paste!  But I knew that it would be at most of their reading levels, so I chose one girl to read it aloud for me.  She is one of our most accelerated students, but I have noticed her becoming bored and despondent with her work, so I wanted to boost her confidence and enthusiasm for participation a bit more.  She read it beautifully, with wonderful expression!  It was so fun to hear her 🙂

Then we did some portfolio work, which I find very dull but I understand (as my teacher explained to the class) that it’s important to document so that we can see how they progress.  The students copied their writing assessment on nice paper, using their best handwriting and correcting any mistakes they noticed.  I kept watch to make sure that they were on-task, and all of them were working very hard.

During the 7-minute run, one of my students said that he was not feeling well, so I let him stand with me.  It was some really great one-on-one time where we got to talk about Harry Potter, Mac products, and spending time with out parents.  He is most certainly one of my equals 🙂

I spent the rest of the morning doing Running Records for their reading, and I must admit, I am getting really good at it!  I thought it was pretty tedious work, but that was back when it wasn’t so easy.  Now that I have had more practice, I can pay more attention to their reading than to my accuracy, which helps me get more of a snapshot of their level.  Again… #teachernerd

Since they were working so well in the morning and, “we want to make Miss Jenkins’ last few days very special so that she has wonderful memories of us,” we got to do music early.  Yeehaw!  I love that the special subjects allow our more developing students to shine, and one child in particular who struggles with everything else is excellent at keeping beats, so of course we let her sit in a special chair and keep the class on beat.  Though the lesson was mostly about rhythm, I noticed that a lot of it was great practice for their ability to follow directions.  My teacher allowed them to go and create a rhythm (using body percussion) outside so that we wouldn’t disturb other classes.  Unfortunately, we had some students who did not stay in the designated area, so we had to go back inside.  We sat in a circle and each child performed the pattern they created.

My teacher took it to the next level, and the next thing they had to do was to create a whole pattern with four different rhythms.  One sweet but timid students looked very nervous, but my teacher explained that the only reason to be worried is if you aren’t going to follow directions.  “Students who try should never worry in this classroom.”  Then, she let them go and work on their patterns on their own.  The students who ran away could not be trusted with that privilege, so she had them stay inside.  She also invited anyone else to stay inside who felt they needed help (they created their pattern together, as a group.)

We had to cut it short for lunch, but after lunch I got a very special performance.  My class sang two songs, “Just One Earth” and “Individuality.”  I will tell you, it took all the strength I had not to burst into tears during “Just One Earth” because they sang it so expressively and beautifully, right to me, and it touched my heart in a way I haven’t felt in a long while.  I kept thinking about how in a feew weeks, I will be a world away from them, and I am going to miss them so much, but at the same time, it’s just one earth, and we will always be connected because of my time here.  I was happy that the mood changed for “Individuality” – a very upbeat song with movements and silly verses about “being me!”  I was one happy teacher, with a class full of happy kids.

To finish up music, they were to create a written representation for their patterns with some kind of symbol, which will go in their portfolio.  They have had practice doing this before, so it was pretty easy for them, and everyone was on task.  Except for two girls, but I think I sparked a friendship out of it!   I noticed that two well-behaved, quite girls were staring off into space, and it turns out that they both couldn’t think of a second part for their pattern.  So, I got them sitting next to each other and collaborating!  Before I knew it, they were done and proud of the finished product, while so pleased to have helped each other and completed their own work, all at the same time.

The end of the day is always a bit hectic in my classroom – they don’t clean up very cooperatively or quickly, so it’s always a struggle to get them on their mat.  But I did get to sneak in two whole poems for a great book by Roald Dhal called “Songs and Verses.”  He is such a brilliant, creative children’s writer, perfect for any age.  I need to get my hands on a copy of that one!  We ended the day with a sweet “good afternoon, Miss Jenkins” and off they went, till next time, the last time.

My teacher decided to do my final evaluation this week so that we could focus on just having quality time together next week, and I got another rave review.

“Emma, you have had such a wonderful influence on the students in Room ##. Your quiet, friendly, positive, caring nature encourages the children to be open to communicate and learn with you.  Thank you for all your professional support.  All the best for the future.”

I am anticipating next week with mixed feelings – so excited to spend more time with them all, yet dreading saying goodbye!

Upon reflection, the best part of my day was that it was Rose’s last day….HA!  Just kidding 😉  Since it was Rose’s last day, she brought in brownies (with mini M&Ms on top) for her students, and she gave me one during lunch.  And a corner piece, none-the-less!  It totally made my day.  Thank so much, Rose!  I’m glad I got a brownie out of it, but I’m so sad it was your last day.  I’ll miss my morning tea, break, and lunch buddy next week! 🙂

When I got home, I wasted no time in getting some laundry done, and with my purchase of laundry tokens, I also bought this not-so-impulsive impulse buy:

I see Whittaker’s chocolate’s Peanut Slab at the check-out of nearly every shop and I have tried to resist, though intrigued by the Golden Ticket-esque wrapper.  Then, when I saw this fabulous bar reviewed over at Wayfaring Chocolate, I knew I had to buy some Whittaker’s, STAT!  I mean, I have to try New Zealand chocolate while I’m in New Zealand, eh? It was a very good decision.  Even as a milk chocolate bar, it had some dark, almost bitter, undertones. Das jus ma stile.

I proceeded to eat the whole bar.

Which was a very bad decision.

Big brownie with M&Ms + Whole Milk Chocolate Bar = Too Much Chocolate.


I bite my tongue!  I know I just proclaimed that I am trying not to overeat, but especially at this time of the month (if you know what I mean) sometimes you need a little extra chocolate in order to nourish the soul  😉  But seriously, I didn’t have too much to enter a Fullness Level 5.  And that is just one reason why I don’t count calories!

Do you agree that chocolate is necessary nourishment for the soul?



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand, Student Teaching

A Perfect Saturday Morning

I have had the most perfect Saturday morning.

One of my all-time favorite things to do on a Saturday is to go to a farmer’s market in the morning.

I love all the fresh, cheap, local produce…

(I got my produce for the week for less than nz$10!!!)

I love the atmosphere…

(Though these two were a bunch of hacks.  They were very poorly lip synching to their own CD lol)

But what I love most is getting a little treat for myself!

My parents always get a treat to share at Starbucks on Saturday mornings, and I like to think I am continuing their legacy.  I brought home a special pastry for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up….

Since we were in Rotorua last week, it was Alex’s first time and he we went ga-ga for the gourmet hotdogs, croissants (yes, plural, he got two), and smoothies.

He was also kind enough to pick up a special loaf of bread for an appetizer tonight!

Indeed, last night I finished The Other Boleyn Girl (loved it, obvi), so I was excited to go to the library to pick out a new book.

The Auckland Central Library is really big and new inside, but their selection is seriously lacking.  I looked for a bunch of the recommendations I got, plus books from my Bucket List, but they didn’t have anything!  I ended up getting these two books:

The one on the left might insult my intelligence.  The one on the right might make me suicidal.  I predict the chick lit will be entertaining and mood-boosting, but sometimes I need a little bit more substance, and world poverty is a huge interest of mine.  We’ll see how it goes!

I also perused the children’s section to find something for school this week.  I found this cutie.

It looks like a good message about friendship and self-esteem.  It also happens to be perfectly at most of their reading level!  Let’s see if the kids like it!

Once I got home, I went for a nice quick run!  My legs were feeling really tight, but the weather was sunny and cool, so I appreciated just being outside and going wherever my legs could take me.

For lunch, I had some roasted kumara I made yesterday and I threw together a protein salad.

On some chard and kale there were green beans, carrots, quinoa, and pumpkin-kumara hummus.  It was delicious, but nothing compared with my treat!….

A few months ago, I had a debilitating CinnaBon craving, which I conquered for the time being, but I’ve still been jonesing for a steamy, sticky, doughy, sugary, cinnamony bun…

Craving conquered!  For real this time 🙂  Hannah and I split one, and it was everything I thought it would be 🙂  I put it hot in the microwave and savored each bite.  Hello, YUM!

The Farmer’s market, the library, a run, and a cinnamon bun.  I hope the rest of my day is just as wonderful!

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday?



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand, Running, Student Teaching

Angry Birds to Comfort the Soul

Today it rained all day long.  That meant that it was an “inside” day at school.  Not the best for behavior.  For kids to who get three different breaks throughout the day, they were suffering from their captivity!  But it was a pretty special day, for other reasons.

I was so impressed with how caring the children were.  My mentor must have told my calss about my grandmother, and they all gave me big hugs.  One boy even let me snuggle with some of his Angry Bird stuffed animals all day long to help me feel better.

Some students even wrote a few very special and comforting notes for me on the board.

I have such good friends, young and old.  They make me 🙂

In the morning, I gave some extra support to a group who needed help with their math assessment.  I felt a bit guilty because we were just doing the assessment together, but it seemed like they got the main idea.  They just needed some guidance, but in the long run, what they need is some independence.

After break, I did my lesson on recount writing.  In the past in noticed some of the kids having a hard time with planning their writing, so I wanted to talk to them about he purpose of writing recounts and why it is good to learn the skill.  We talked about how it helps you remember, it retells a story, and it informs people about an experience who weren’t present.  I also thought it would be fun for them to get to see some of my writing, so I read them my blog post about my first day at their school.  They really enjoyed it since they could relate, but it was a bit too long for them to sit through.  I wanted to make sure we talked about how important it is to plan to organize your ideas and details though, so we constructed my plan on the whiteboard.  We highlighted the who, what (first, then, next finally), when, and where of the recount, plus my feelings and the conclusion.   At this point they were starting to fidget and talk to their neighbor because I had them sitting on the floor for too long.  Ooops.

I had them go back to their desks to write a plan about their first day of school.  Some students were still writing the outline for the plan while others had all the details filled in.  I tried to encourage them to get their ideas down, but it didn’t seem to be working.  I can’t sort out what the real problem is.  The standardized “plan” they need to use is a bit restricting so after some time, I had them get into groups and share what they were going to write about.  This helped to get some ideas verbalized, so they went back to their desks to finish their plan and write.  That worked out a lot better. Finally, they were to read through for mistakes and underline the parts they planned.  They did well, but there is still room for a lot of improvement.  The most difficult thing is that there are just so many needs in my classroom – especially because more than half are English Language Learners.  The trouble with writing is that it shows true mastery of a language – but that’s also what’s so great about it.

We had a fun afternoon doing art and music, though they were quite wild and loud.  Only to be expected on a rainy day!  I think I want to allocate a few “rainy day games” in my toolbelt to do when I know that all hope of learning is lost.  But it was a good day, in the end.  I can’t believe I only have two more weeks!

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Filed under Life, New Zealand, Student Teaching

Chocolate Saves the Day!

I had quite a busy day today.  I’ve been working for about 13 hours straight!  Phew!  I haven’t done that in a probably 6 months!

It all started with breakfast at 6am.

I laid out my scarf to add some excitement to my standard breakfast!  Filling oatmeal (1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup soymilk, 1 banana, coconut, cinnamon, and peanut butter swirl) and insta-coffee with soymilk.  Good fuel for a full day of student teaching!  And a bright cheery scarf to brighten my day before the sunshine ❤

This morning in school, I did a project for UVM where I presented partitive-division and fair-sharing questions to two groups of three students.  At first we were in a nice quiet, separated office, but we got kicked out, 😦 resulting in mass mayhem relocating and basically starting all over again.  Joy!  Oh well, I got to practice my flexibility skills.

Everyone was a little bit distractable because of the disruption and the fact that we were now working in the noisy classroom, so I had to give out some stern reminders to stay on task.

I was overall pleased with how it went, especially because the students used the manipulatives really well.  Yay for active learning!

They had no prior learning on fractions or division, so I was impressed on how well some of the students figured it out for themselves, but also how quickly the other students picked up on it.  Makes my job easy!  The one thing I learned: connect it to real life and use materials – they work!

The cutest thing that happened was that one boy messed up on the above problem because he was trying to share the cookies with the mom, too!  Bless him 🙂

I love my school for many reasons, but for one, I love that even us student teachers get complimentary refreshments at Morning Tea.  YUM!  Today I delighted in a raisin biscuit dunked in my French press coffee, plus two crackers ‘n’ cheese.

After Tea, I enjoyed reading a Big Book chorally with the class.  It’s really clever how educational writers can make a whole story out of just a few sight words!  It was about a spy who “knew everything, but didn’t see anything.”  Besides, choral reading is just awesome on so many levels.  #educationnerd

After the story, I helped students get their portfolios in order for the upcoming conferences.  Quite the tedious task, (this page goes after that page, make sure you sign your name, blagh blagh blagh) and it was good that I was there to help my teacher with some classroom management.  It would have taken even longer than it did!

Then for the rest of the day, I did Running Records. (Coincidentally, I just finished a paper on them!)  These are when a child reads a standardized story based on their “reading age” and you score every single word they say.  I just wanted to practice while my teacher observed me so that I could get better at it, but apparently I’m already really good at it, which resulted in my teacher having me do running records for the rest of the day.  Almost 3 hours, to be exact.  It was most interesting to hear two English Language Learners – one improved almost a tenthfold, another went down several levels.  Good news and bad news.  Another student was so anxious about reading out loud – now I think I’m going to have him read to me every day, just so that he learns not to fear it!  I got really good practice, and now my teacher has updated reading assessments for everyone, but it all drove me a bit nuts.

Luckily I got a break to eat my fantabulous lunch!

A sandwich on wholemeal grain toast with pumpkin-kumara hummus, carrots, cheddar cheese, and chard.  DELICIOUS combo!  Maybe it’s cause I haven’t been eating much cheese lately, but a party in my mouth ensued.  I had more carrots and some broccoli on the side, too.  (And a mandarin and an apple as an after-school snack!)

After I simply couldn’t do running records anymore, I joined the class in their music lesson.  They are practicing keeping beat and creating rhythmic patterns, so it was really fun to watch them share the patterns they made up.  We have quite a musical class!

I was in charge of dismissing everyone today, so we read some poems (Kiwi ones!) and played some games (Simon Says!) in the last ten minutes or so.

After school, I went over the running record results with my teacher, and then I decided to share with her my struggles with my Maori essay.  For my leadership class, we are learning about synergizing – reaching out to those who are different from you for new, useful perspectives on your problems. So, I decided to appeal to Shirley for some help, and she really hooked me up!  She found some books for me on the Treaty of Waitangi in the teacher’s resource room.  Now I am not only excited to do some research, but I have a new take on the essay that I’m actually interested in: The Treaty of Waitangi and Modern Society – Teaching the Truth to our Youth!

When I got home, I actually managed to do a lot of work, even in my hazy post-teaching stupor.  I wrote my Leadership assignment on synergizing and did quite a bit of research on the Treaty.  Though I got a lot done, I felt like a zombie. Then, I ate.

For dinner, I had leftovers from last night’s Asian Adventure!  I heated it up on some kale, too 🙂

Yay for kale!  I shrieked with glee when I spotted it last week at the farmer’s market.  It was great with my spicy Chinese rice bowl.  I even went back for seconds!

While I worked 6am-7pm, Hannah and Alex spent a lovely day in Devonport [<– they basically did the same fun stuff we did a few months ago!].  But they didn’t forget about me!  They even brought me home the most valuable souvenir I could ever ask for:

A dinosaur-shaped white chocolate from Devonport Chocolates!  It made the perfect dessert 🙂  I cannot thank you two enough! 😀

What’s the most tedious part of your job?



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand, Student Teaching