Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Class

I’m definitely getting more comfortable living in Cambodia. I’ve stopped thinking that every mosquito here is out to infect me with malaria. I’ve learned a couple Khmer words, (most importantly how to say my students’ names) and I rarely notice the lizards anymore. I’ve even started to run here which is something I’ve always enjoyed in the states. Little by little, I’m feeling more independent. My goal for February is to learn how to bargain at the market and navigate my way around town.
Even my classroom is feeling more like my own. I’m still making improvements here and there, but I’ve created some of the things that I’m used to having in the states, such as a “word wall” and mat where students can sit and listen to stories. I’ve also brought things to the room such as charts, borders and brightly colored stickers.  I’ve started a little lending library in my class and the students love being able to take a book home for the night. I haven’t put all my books out yet because I need to save most of them for lessons. It’s so different here not being able to drive down to the public library and pick out any book.  The books I brought here are precious resources indeed. My students love listening to stories and Curious George is the favorite so far.
All of my students are incredibly sweet. I love the diversity of my class and am so impressed with the fact that most of them speak at least two languages fluently. One of my students speaks German, Thai, English and Khmer. Other nations place such a high value on speaking many languages. I think we should adopt the same attitude in America. We seem to hold the expectation that because many people learn English that exempts us from the need to learn other languages. I don’t agree with this attitude and hope to learn as much Khmer as possible.
Sana, Parady & Sreynoch

My students are patiently trying to teach me the numbers and how to say the names of the various fruits they leave on my desk. The language is so hard for me and they love laughing when their teacher makes a mistake. I laugh at myself a lot here actually. Just last week we had library for the first time. I lined the children up and casually asked the Khmer teacher if I just “Drop the students off.” She looked confused and told me that no, of course I went with them. I was still confused and blurted out “Wait, there’s no librarian?” Of course there wasn’t a librarian. The library itself is a work in progress; there are a few shelves with donated books and a few boxes in the corner. So, if you have a bunch of old children’s books, feel free to box them up and send them our way J
I am learning how to be creative and work with what I’ve got. I’ve learned how to improvise but more importantly, that not everything has to be perfect. The paint on my classroom walls is chipping, my classroom library consists of a few second hand books and the resources here are limited, but I’m learning that a classroom is so much more than the decorations on the walls or the quantity of supplies. A classroom is characterized by the thinking and learning that takes place within its four walls and beyond. It is a safe place where children are supported and encouraged.  Above all,  a classroom is a place where children are loved and appreciated; my prayer is that my classroom is this place.
The Girls

Ohhh the silly boys... saying goodbye to Sarah before she leaves for Korea.

Grade Two <3


  1. Oh Sarah...I loved your post. The children are adorable. So glad that you are feeling so at home. It is amazing what we teachers in America think we have to have...we don't realize how blessed we are. I am thinking of the boxes of books that sit down in my basement from when I taught.....I probably have more down there than you have in the library!! I love how you are incorporating new idea's in your classroom. keep up the good work!! Love ya!

  2. Hey Sarah, I was excited to hear of your move to Cambodia and, thanks to Erin, was able to find your blog.
    It looks like you got a great set of kids. I would love to meet the boy who speaks four languages.
    I heartily agree that we Americans generally develop the wrong mentality regarding other languages (and cultures).
    Thanks for your profound insight on classroom theory.
    Best wishes as you keep adjusting and learning new things.