One Week In…


View of Hong Kong: "Vibrant" by Gabbian, CC licensed (click to view original)

We have now been in Hong Kong for 18 days, and Friday marked the end of my first week of teaching at AISHK. I have now met almost all of the classes from Prep to Year 6 (there were a few interruptions for various things), and truly and honestly it was lovely! The majority of the children are happy, friendly, reasonably polite, quite a few are precocious in their conversation, and seemed quite interested in ‘The New Library Teacher’! I have to give a huge vote of thanks to the outgoing Teacher Librarian (I haven’t asked her permission to name her, but believe me she deserves the recognition!). She has left behind a school of children who have been immersed in advanced research skills, exposed to referencing and inquiry skills at every year level, who see Library lessons as something to look forward to, and has left me with a very high standard to meet!

Walking around the school on the preceding Thursday and Friday I detected a certain level of anticipation and foreknowledge in  the cries of “Hello Mrs Reid!” and “Hello New Library Teacher” from students of various heights. This led me to implement a Plan for my first lesson with every class – I did not introduce myself.

The Plan: Step One

The students obviously all knew who I was, and the class teacher (they stay with their class for Library) would often tell the students to greet me, so self-introductions seemed a bit superfluous. Instead, I asked the classes to tell me what they already knew about me – this was usually an entertaining 5 minutes 🙂 Generally we covered:

  • where I had come from
  • the major climate differences between Hobart and Hong Kong
  • my previous school
  • the fact that I’ve been reading boys books for 3 1/2 years due to previous school
  • my 3 children
  • my 2 dogs

with occasional diversions into my previous life as a Japanese & French teacher, or my award last year (kind of embarrassing hearing about that multiple times during the week!).

The Plan: Step Two

Next I told the children that as I was so new to Hong Kong there are lots of things I need to know, which they could teach me. I asked the children to Think-Pair-Share to come up with things they thought were important, and gave them about 20-30 seconds. I’m really pleased with this activity – the children got to share with me their local knowledge, it was a very inclusive way to start our teacher/class relationships, and I learned a great deal in a very short time! Also it didn’t get boring because as the week went on I warned each class that I had had X number of classes giving me information before their turn, so they had to be creative! Things I learned:

  • the name of just about every major shopping mall in the Hong Kong metropolitan area.
  • the ice rinks and cinemas therein
  • that we have to try Dim Sum (which Australians refer to as Yum Cha) – they were saddened to discover that we already had, somewhat by accident, when looking for lunch that was not too expensive and not in a Food Court
  • go to Shenzen, but don’t shop on the main tourist drag
  • all the local markets – we are only a few blocks from Temple Street, which has already yielded good results!
  • where to go at Stanley markets to find the Aussie lolly shop (Whizz Fizz!)
  • Megabox
  • the nightly light show
  • the Peak, and the walks, trams, restaurants, and vantage point it provides
  • which are the good beaches
  • that I need access to a boat to get to the good beaches
  • that barring a close friendship with someone wealthier than your average teacher, I should sign up to the staff junk trip – which is equivalent to a harbour cruise, I gather – in order to visit or even see any of these beaches
  • Groupon – email discount coupons for everything under the sun
  • the second-hand book market
  • that frozen yoghurt is fabulous
  • that Milk Tea is kind of like ice coffee – very milky, very sweet, and something I will approach with caution
  • that I should try the dai pai dong eateries for great food
  • and lots of other snippets, such as if you are being pushed by other people in the crowd – on the MTR (subway), street or anywhere else, you have to just shove back

    Atlas, it's time for your bath

    Grabbing the world! Image by woodleywonderworks (click to view original)

As I said above, I’m really glad I took this approach – it let me start by showing respect for the experience and knowledge that children bring with them to my classroom, and it gave me a fabulous list of things to do and see around Hong Kong!

This coming week will see me diving into a lot of reading promotion activities, while I get a handle on the students, on how the Library program can complement classroom work, and how things work generally at this new school. I’m having fun designing a Reading Passport for Year 3 – looking at a Blooms X Multiple Intelligences framework to inspire different and creative ways to respond to books in a format that will fit within a folded A4 page.

Moving Out, On And Over

Big Yellow Wheelie BinYesterday was my last day at Hutchins – for a while at least! I spent most of the day sorting out my desk, putting piles of worksheets in plastic pockets for filing, and tossing old  papers into the Big Yellow Wheelie Bin. I have two usb memory sticks loaded up with my library programs, units of work, previous years’ work (for reference if needed), activity sheets – anything I could think of to make life easier for the two TLs who will be sharing my position for the rest of the year. I have passed on all the debating club materials to the colleague who will take that over. I even remembered to bring home my work mug.

In between clearing out my office, supervising the library and taking my last class (yr 3, traditional folk tale then flags of the world – Book Week themed) I was also saying goodbye to colleagues. I was deeply touched to realise how many friends I have made at Hutchins – there were so many people wishing me well, telling me how much fun I will have and how the time will fly, and asking me to be sure to keep in touch. I have really loved working here, and will be glad to return in 2013, refreshed, reinvigorated and ready to rug up warmly with our return to the cooler climate!

The rest of this weekend will be spent packing up the house – something we have been working on for a couple of months – in preparation for flying to Hong Kong next week. I have been too busy, too preoccupied, too tired to be excited before now, but this morning I woke up with a definite feeling of anticipation! I am really looking forward to the adventure and challenge of tackling life in a whole new country and culture. I have already received a lot of great advice and support from staff at my new school, which has given me confidence that it won’t be a case of jumping in the deep end and fending for myself upon arrival. Also I discovered an interesting side-effect of clearing out my office and reviewing my work of the past 3 1/2 years: I have a new belief in my own ability to create a variety of teaching and learning activities suited to the needs of my students and the knowledge and skills I wish them to acquire.

What I Do