Five Days Left in China

Time flies! Everyone always says that, but it has never been more true than for my time in China. Coming to China and teaching has been my dream since high-school. Now I am looking out from here and trying to figure out where to go from here. God gives you the desires of your heart and that is exactly what He did when He allowed us to move to China.

Words cannot express the highest highs and the lowest lows that I have experienced in China. I leave here a changed person. I can proudly say that I am stronger in my marriage, as a person and as a teacher. I am going to miss my dear Chinese friends that I am leaving behind, and many other things that I will not even think about until I am back in the states. In China, I always find myself saying – “Well in the States….” and I know that now it will to change to “Well, in China…”

I am faced with the uncertainties that life brings. What I do know is…

  • China will always hold a piece of my heart, especially in the wonderful people that I have grown to love!
  • I will come back to China – for how long? Who knows?
  • I will be a TFA Corps member, which in and of itself is a huge honor, teaching in Mississippi.
  • I am ready to spend quality time with my family back in the states, being apart from them has been the hardest part of this experience.
  • Most of all, I wait in anticipation to see what God has in store for my life!


Already in America?

Conversation from last night:

Me – Honey, I feel like I am on autopilot and just coasting through this semester. Is that bad?

My husband – Sweetheart, that is because your mind is already in America.

~ ~ ~ ~

Ever since I got accepted in TFA (Teach for America), I have been working on pre-work and trying to soak in as much information as possible about my placement region. Unfortunately, that has led to a sort of nonchalant attitude toward teaching the students that I have right now. I feel like I have been on auto-pilot. This is not easy to admit. My students deserve to have a great teacher right now.

I guess I am in my comfort zone (more so than I was last year at this time). I am teaching classes that I have already taught and I have a good idea of projects and activities that work. My goal for the rest of the year is to take the stuff that I am learning and apply it to my classroom right now. I started looking at some online resources from Achievement First and they have some excellent ideas about how to keep students engaged (which is my biggest problem with the different levels I have in each class).  I plan to read up on their strategies and start implementing them into my classes. I am also planning to re-read some books from college – The First Days of School and The Cornerstone for Teachers. Both are awesome books about classroom management.

I don’t think that I am doing a terrible job, but I am sticking to what I know works. So I just want to shake things up and have a more engaging class.

What are some ways that you shake up your instruction when it seems to become stagnant?


Reflections on Chun Jie Break!

Normally I love breaks from school and this break was a much needed break from the norm. However, this break seemed to last forever and with each passing day I was reminded how much I miss my friends in Yantai and my family back in the states. Everyone in China goes back to their hometown during Chun Jie and I found out that Yiwu is no one’s hometown. EVERYTHING was closed! We thought we would go out for sushi or arabic food – no they were closed. On Valentines day all the flower shops were closed, so I got fireworks instead of flowers. Wow! So how did I stay sane during a break with nothing open and no friends to hang out with? Hmmm…

– Painted a paint by number painting with my hubby

– Helped my hubby put together a puzzle and was affirmed that I am not a puzzle person

– Crocheted a hat and started working on a table runner

– Cooked A LOT!! (Including home-made tortillas yummy)

– Did my own nails, which took a while because I do okay with one hand and not so good with the other

– Watched Harry Potter, Friends, and Star Wars

– Wrote all of my lesson plans for World Geography, ESL and Earth Science for the rest of the YEAR!! Whoop Whoop!

– Created a new blog on Teach for Us about my journey in TFA – Jazzy Jottings

Tomorrow is my first day back and I am ready to go back. In school I am so busy I don’t have time to stop and think about how much I miss my family or how most of my China friends are in Yantai. All in all my break was eventful and uneventful at the same time. Here’s to the new year and four more months in China!

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Top Ten Reasons I Love Winter Break in China!

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Okay so here are the Top Ten Reasons I cannot wait for Christmas Break here in China!

10. Spending time with my China Family!

9. Experiencing Christmas with some of my friends for the first time (Despite what our Christmas Around the World Units say China does not celebrate Christmas – Chinese New Year comes later :))

8. Sleeping in – When my neighbors who wake up at 4am will let me – The joy of a land with over a billion people 🙂

7. Traveling to Hong Kong and going to Disney Land!

6. Traveling to Xian to see the Terracotta Army!

5. American, Mexican, and every other food that is not Chinese!

4. Receiving packages in the mail.

3. Skype

2. Comfy and cute casual clothing – totally not professional, but still cute!

1. Knowing that a month from the time we go back to school on January 8th we will get another two week vacation for Chun Jia!

What are you looking forward to? Add a comment below or click the top-ten icon at the top and find out what other teachers are looking forward to this Winter Break!!

It’s August!!

Lots of things are happening at this time of year. Teachers and students are busy preparing for back-to-school (perhaps teachers more than students). I wanted to take this time to share with you several things happening online this month.

A few months ago I was asked to give feedback on a devotional for Christian Educators. The devotional book has recently been released. It is truly amazing and really changed the way act and think in not only the classroom, but daily life. I highly recommend this book for both experienced and first year teachers! (Click the image below to find out more)

The Awakened Devotional Study Guide for Christian Educators

I have a new post on Global Teacher Connect entitled Authentic Assessment in China. This post shares some simple steps for how to create an authentic assessment. GTC is also hosting a new series called Classrooms Around the World. Teachers from around the globe will be contributing pictures of thier classrooms. This is a great opportunity for students to see how alike and different schools are in different parts of the world (click the icon below for more info about this wonderful project)!

Last but not least TpT will be having their BACK TO SCHOOL Sale on August 12-13th! You can save an extra 10% on all your purchases by using the code in the icon below. My store will be having a 20% off sale which gives you spectacular saving for those last minute Back to School items!

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Wow – so much is going on! I am also in the midst of moving and starting a new school. I hopefully will have updates as that progresses! Happy Tuesday!!

Adventures in Time Travel

It has been a whirl-wind of a summer. I have been to the states and back again. I have also had the joys of having a 48 hour day and losing a day. It honestly feels like we have been time-travelers this summer.

I am normally a workaholic according to my husband, but I think it is because I love what I do. I really enjoy writing lesson plans, teaching and coming up with a new way to explain a concept. However, this summer I gave my brain a break. I think it was a much needed break after my first year teaching overseas.

As soon as I got back to China, my brain break was over. My husband and I both taught at an English Camp. It is a two week camp that Chinese and Korean students come to in order to practice and learn English. It lasts for 8 hours Monday-Friday. As an English Education major I had so much fun teaching the kids English. Since most of them were elementary school aged kids, I also got to incorporate some fun songs that would have been quite cheesy to older students.

We are currently in the process of moving. That has been crazy in and of itself. Our schools company (the company operates two schools in China) provides our housing. Since we are moving to the other school another couple needed our apartment. The big problem was that we are not supposed to go our new city until August 15th. So we prepared our stuff and our currently staying at a hotel in the area. In another turn of events, today was a whirlwind. We thought the couple was coming in on Sunday and it turns out they are getting here tomorrow. Which meant I had to get everything together and move in less than 5 hours today. STRESS!

I am very thankful to now be sitting at my computer and relaxing. Although my friend just called and said that a tropical storm was headed our way. Looks like we will be stuck inside this weekend. All in all it looks like we are in for another adventurous year in China. And I am so glad that our time traveling is over at least for another 9 months!

~ Jessi

One Smart Cookie

I had a wonderful time blog-hopping yesterday. I got some really great freebies from some truly awesome educators. I hope that you also had the chance to grab those free offers.

On a different note I just got finished baking cookies for the teachers at my school (we only have 10 teachers at our k-12 school). Tomorrow is Teacher Appreciation Day. I am kinda proud of myself. I created little gift bags with cookies. I also made custom labels that say “You are one smart COOKIE! Happy Teacher Appreciation Day 2012.” They look really cute.

Teacher Appreciation Day is not celebrated in China. I am hoping to bring a smile to the face of my Asian co-workers. What are you doing for Teacher Appreciation Day? No matter what it is I hope it is wonderful.

I Walk Like My Daddy

I just returned from a whirlwhind of traveling. Our school takes the students on a cultural trip in the spring as part of our curriculum. We visit parts of the country so that the students learn more about the land they live in. This years trip took us to many famous places. All of which included a heavy amount of walking. As we walked, and walked, and walked I realized something. I walk like my dad. I have known for years that I share many of his features, but I really noticed during this trip how slow I walk. My dad walks pretty slow and takes everything in. That is exactly how I walk. My husband has now started calling me Gimli from Lord of the Rings. But enough about the slowness of my gait, I would like to share some pictures from my journey.

On the first day we visited Qing Ming Theme Park. This park was like Colonial Williamsburg, people who work here dress up like ancient Chinese. They have carts that you can ride, river boats and several shops that would have existed during that time. While the kids were exploring, in groups of four or more, the leaders took this opportunity to dress-up in ancient Chinese garb. It was a lot of fun!

That afternoon and the following day we visited Yuntai Mountain National Park. We were able to see some truly gorgeous scenery. The water at the park was clear and turquoise colored. I have never seen water in such a bright color. Each of the chapherones was in charge of a group. I was in charge of the 7th and 8th Grade girls. The seventh-graders are in my earth science class and so being the teacher that I am I took this chance to discuss types of rocks. As we were walking through a cave one of the girls said, “Look Mrs. Caldwell erosion” as she pointed at the water dripping from the rocks. Then a drop fell on her hand and she quickly replied, “Oh no I have erosion on my hand.” Too cute, right?

On the final day of our trip we visited The Longmen Grottoes in the morning. The Longmen Grottoes is a series of caves each containing an ancient Buddha. THere are at least 1000 of them. It was interesting, but the students found it a bit boring. In the afternoon we visited Shaolin. That was one of the highlights of the trip. We watched a kung fu show and played outside on the training equiptment.

At the end of the trip I was exhausted, but it was worth it. I got to know my students a lot better and we were able to learn together about some of the magnificent culture in the country around us.

Body Biography

We finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and I had my students complete body biographies for their characters. I wanted to share with you some pictures. This project required students to use symbolism in completing their characters representation. They also had to look up quotes from the novel that told something about their character.

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I will add photos of the finished posters as soon as I return to school. We are on Spring Break!!!!