Long Distance

Long Distance

In 8 weeks

1 taxi ride – Beilun to Ningbo airport

2 flights – one to Hong Kong, one to New York

1 taxi ride – JFK to Harlem

16 days

innumerable moments filled with





comfortable silence

And then

1 taxi ride – Harlem to JFK

2 flights – one to Hong Kong, one to Beilun


24 more weeks until

2 flights – one to Hong Kong, one to New York

Long Distance


Students Make me Smile

Students Make me Smile

Picking noses

Blowing spit bubbles

Screaming YEAH when they guess the mystery word

Splayed out on the floor working on math problems

Inventing games with glue sticks, pencils and toy cars

Sharing books and laughing out loud over books

Yelling out YES when they see we’re reading Captain Underpants together

Walking in, reading the schedule, and beginning their morning journals with no prompt

Journals with cartoon drawings, maps, AND writing

Using whiteboards to show each other how to solve problems

My students make me smile



Old School Teaching

Old School Teaching

In my current classroom we don’t have one-to-one iPads. There is only one computer available to students in the classroom. Despite the VPN, there are still websites that take their time to download. We don’t use Gonoodle to exercise. We don’t use SeeSaw or any other portfolio or documenting app. Parents are notified about their children through written documentation, no WeChat, WhatsApp or Facebook. I’m teaching old school and I love it.

No doubt students need exposure to technology and so do teachers. Google classroom, Edmodo and all the rest have been great for teachers and students alike. I love watching videos of creative teachers who make videos and dance routines for students. I’m all for prezi. Seriously, I’m inspired by it all.

Yet, I love the way I’m teaching now. Our exercise breaks are fueled by exercises we know, no video recording, but what we think of using our minds. We read books by going to the library and choosing them, rather than raz-kids and readinga-z. Students have a physical portfolio where they are beginning to store their projects and work. I haven’t made any rap videos or dance routines to entice my students into learning or participating. From our morning check-ins and afternoon circle time, it looks, feels and sounds like my students are loving the fourth grade.

I’d love iPads, Animoto, Class Dojo, Educreation and everything else but life isn’t more stressful without them. Lesson planning isn’t harder. Don’t get me wrong all of those apps and tools, plus the plethora that I don’t know about, would be great. They may just make life ‘easier’ for me. But the reality is that my students aren’t suffering from the lack of those tools.  They are still learning, growing and creating. I think they’ll be okay without this year, and so will I.

Morning Breakfast

Morning Breakfast

I love food.

I love to eat.

I do not diet although I do try to think about health and fitness. Sometimes.

That being said, my latest venture into making myself at home here in China has been tasting new quick breakfast spots.

The way that things are set up in my neighborhood is that not all shops are open at all times, and this is especially true when it comes to food. Breakfast places are there in the morning, and only in the morning. Men and women wheel or ride their fast food carts onto streets and busy corners to sell their wares. If you love the egg crepe thingy and want it after school, it’s a no go cause that cart is gone. So I’ve decided to stop at somewhere new each day this week so I can get my fill. At 5rmb a pop (less than a $1), it’s a cheap and quick breakfast.

What did I eat today?

Egg crepe thingy. It’s called Jianbing in Chinese and it’s a delicious wonder.

What is it?

  1. It’s a crepe.
  2. With an egg cracked on top
  3. And cilantro
  4. And pickled somethingorother (radish, pickles, scallion…)
  5. And hoisin sauce
  6. And hot sauce (bu lau for me – just a little spicy)
  7. And meat if you want (none for me)
  8. Fold it, add a fried wonton skin, fold it again, stuff it in a bag and there you go.

YUMMY. Read more about it here and watch how it’s made here.

At some point I’ll add pictures but at the moment living in China with often spotty internet makes it more difficult. In the meantime, I wonder what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow.



Saturday market day and morning run

Sunday morning run, exploratory strolls, and do it yourself pedicures

Monday yoga

Tuesday morning run

Wednesday P90x

Thursday morning run

Friday P90x

I am slowly creating rituals and routines for my life here in Beilun, China. Every year that I teach abroad I recognize more and more the importance of creating routines that ground me and root me where I am. It is necessary to feel at home, be a part of my neighborhood and create places where I am a regular. It makes me feel less of a visitor and more of a resident. So I have my market lady in place, my morning runs that take me through familiar territory (I still have to work up the courage to join a Tai Chi group), and Monday yoga at home to help me feel better about Mondays. I finally know how to order an iced coffee in Chinese so I’ll have a local coffee spot. There are a few more tweaks before I feel more at home but it’s only going on week 3 so I’m being gentle with myself. Slow and steady entry.


I’m a Runner

I’m a Runner

I’m a runner.

Not because I own fancy running shoes. Not because I run long miles. Not because I’m fast. Not because I own a pair of high priced running shoes, I don’t.

I’m a runner because I I put one foot in front of the other and move faster than a walk. I’m a runner because when I don’t run I feel it. I’m a runner because I simply enjoy running.

I’m a runner beacuase I run.

That one student

That one student

There’s always that one student. The one that you find yourself going home and thinking about. How do I get him to get it? How do I get her to understand? Why won’t she follow directions? Why doesn’t he listen? How do you not show how much they get on your very last nerve!?

What do you do?

Remember that they are children. Sometimes they really don’t know any better. You may not know what’s going on at home or after school. Remember that they are children. Sometimes they are only mimicking behavior. Sometimes school is the only place where there are rules and guidelines for their life. Remember that they are children. Sometimes they just won’t get it. Sometimes they are way more interested in the bug making its way across the classroom floor. Remember that they are children.

Tuesday – It’s only day 2 and I’m tired

Tuesday – It’s only day 2 and I’m tired

It’s only Tuesday and I’m already tired. Wow!

Every day that I go home after a day in the classroom I reminded of a moment with my sister. My sister has been teaching for over 25 years. I recall a day, walking into her home and her sitting at the dining room table. As she sat there she expressed how tired she was as she summoned one of her grandchildren to get her bag off the shelf for her. I remember distinctly asking, not without sarcasm, why was she tired, she was “just a teacher”. How tired could she really be? So tired that she couldn’t get up to get a bag that was less than 5 feet away from her? I had no understanding.

And then I started teaching.

Yes, she was so tired that she couldn’t even get out of her seat. I marvel at teachers who have the energy at the end of the day to hang bulletin boards, grade papers, talk to parents and all the rest. I’m done. Catch me at 7:30am when I’m fresh. For now, I’ll be sitting here cause I’m “just a teacher” and I’m just that tired.

Sundays at home

Sundays at home

Some Sundays there is nothing better than spending the day at home.

A list of Sunday:

  • Awake
  • Read – Breath, Eyes Memory – Edwidge Danticat
  • Meditate
  • Mindless Internet searches
  • Write
  • Paint
  • Doodle
  • 2048 Game
  • Mop
  • Eat – grapes, cherries, bold eggs, grapefruit
  • Drink – water, water, water
  • Laundry
  • Read – travel blogs, education blogs, random stuff
  • Nap

Sundays at home.