Independence is essential 

To all my loyal followers: don’t worry I am still alive! I did not realize that I would actually have very little downtime this trip but wouldn’t want it any other way! I can finally update you a little bit about what has been going on here in Holland.
This past weekend, we traveled to Amsterdam where we spent three days exploring the breathtaking city. From the Disclosure concert, Heineken Tour, and Anne Frank House to the Nutella waffles (finally got my waffle and trust me it lived up to its expectation), it is safe to say it was an amazing weekend. It was such an amazing weekend we have decided to go again tomorrow after school to see some more sights we didn’t get to see before- The Van Gough museum. Being the big history and culture nerd that I am, I am thrilled some other girls want to do this as well. Because Wednesday’s are meant for teacher planning, the school lets out at 12:00 p.m. Perfect for us to make a little day trip out of it. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s only an 11 euro train ride to the city.
As I was sitting and observing in the school today, I really tried to focus in on the similarities and differences I have seen thus far. Perri and I have been bouncing around classrooms so we can get a feel of the teaching and instruction in all grade levels. Today, we were with “group 1” which is equivalent to our kindergarten. One way I can describe this class: INDEPENDENT. I have never been more blown away by a five year old! For example, a student was finishing an art project by cutting out a picture. Not only was he using adult size scissors, but also doing this completely unsupervised and cut so perfectly (honestly better than I can cut and I am going to be a teacher!). To me, this was crazy. These young students don’t need the teacher to watch their every move. They learn and problem solve on their own. Another example was the students were trying to sit in a circle with chairs. However, there was one less chair than number of students. The teacher had the students problem solve how to get another chair. She just sat there and scaffolded the students on how to fix it and they did. ON THEIR OWN. We always talk about child centered learning in my education classes, but it is completely different to see it first hand. That is what I love so much about the Dutch education system. They focus completely on the student and how to make that student an independent, contributing member of society. It definitely shows because every student I have met is extremely smart. There is one five year old who speaks four languages. You heard me. Four. Dutch, English, Russian, and French. Meanwhile still learning how to say good morning in Dutch. Anyways…. I am blown away with how this school is run and I can’t wait to take all the positives into my classroom one day! Oh, and maybe the coffee machines they have in the teacher’s lounge. Don’t worry I limited myself to three cups today. 
I promise I’ll update more this week and after this weekend in Prague!
Until Next Time,

Shan 

Here’s some pics of the classroom and from my weekend trip!

   
    
    

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Jogging my way through the Hauge…literally

After an unsuccessful night of sleep and way too much  jet lag, we somehow made it on time to meet our guide at the university at 9:30 am. After walking 1 km to the bus stop and getting on the right bus (praises) we met our two guides (Sigurd and Peter) at the Haague University. I think they both were surprised we made it on time and honestly so am I. Sigurd and Peter gave us a tour of the university which is all in one building and holds 27,000 students. It’s crazy to think that TCU has so many different buildings for 8,000 undergrads and they hold everyone in the same building! It’s exam week at the university so you could feel the stress in the air. 

 img_0229The Haague University

My favorite part of the university tour was seeing this statue that is in the middle of the building. There is a student on top of a pole and it symbolizes that the student’s needs are the most important in schoo setting. That really stuck with me and reminded me how at the end of the day teaching is really all about the students and they come first. Definitely something I will keep in mind as I begin this career.

  The student statue 

After our tour and lunch in their version of a cafeteria (which is 1,000 times better than the BLUU), Sigurd dropped off the pairs at each school. Perri and I are at a school called “Bohem Kijkduin” which is a primary school. We met with the director of Special Education at the school and he said that we would be with the “8’s” which is equivalent to 5th grade. When we walked into the classroom, the kids were SO EXCITED. They seriously could not stop smiling and giggling and were blown away that we were Americans. They even asked if they could follow me on Instagram! Because the students are learning English, the teacher had each student introduce themselves by saying their name, age, and hobbies. This was good practice for them and you could tell some of them were very nervous to speak in English. We also learned that the girls play field hockey and the boys play soccer. After the introductions the special education guide picked four lucky students to give Perri and me a tour of the school. The little girl who showed me around has an American mother so she spoke really good English her partner, however, didn’t. But it was still so fun to talk to both of them and compare and contrast the schools. 

 

The gym for the “ones” which is equivalent to kindergarten 

  

Dutch Classroom!

 After our tour, we went back to the classroom and the students were doing a reading comprehension lesson. The teacher would read a paragraph and then had a student translate in English. I thought this was really nice of the teacher and really good practice for the students. 

Before we left for the day we asked the teacher where we could put money on our bus card. She quickly assigned a student to take us to the city center. This is where the day gets good. So naturally everyone rides bikes. Including the children. So, this sweet little boy is trying to show us how to get somewhere on bike and Perri and I are just jogging behind him. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever experienced. If we didn’t look like tourists before, we sure did today. 

  Action shot of us jogging behind.

Once he took us to the store to load our cards, we realized it didn’t work. However, we knew we needed the cards for the bus tomorrow so we decided to take the tram to central station because we knew we could fill up there. After we made it to the station, Perri and I decided to explore the area. After a few hours and a delicious latte, we decided  that we needed to get back. Except we didn’t know how to exactly. We took the tram to the bus to the wrong stop, but it was the last stop of the route so we had to walk (in my case run because I was terrified something bad was going to happen). Don’t worry Mom we made it back safely after asking a million people “do you speak English” and a good mile and half walk in the windiest weather. Let’s just say I have some wind burns on my face.

Today has been a whirlwind that’s for sure and I am loving EVERY second of this trip. I can’t wait to spend a full day at the school tomorrow!

Until next time,

Shan
Disclaimer round two: I am writing all of this on my iPad so I’m sorry if the formatting is weird and the grammar is bad I’m too tired and this iPad keyboard is super delayed. 

Goodbye America, “Hallo” Netherlands

 I’ve decided that I am theming this trip “Go with the Flow” because everything up until now has literally been “winging it”. I have actually never been so unprepared for something in my life, but that’s the fun of it right?  For those of you who know me, you know that I am a very structured person. I am not one to “cry over spilled milk” but I do like things to go as planned and find myself upset when they don’t. As a future teacher, you have to know that sometimes your lesson is going to plummet. It’s going to go way faster than expected or way longer. It could be too easy, or too hard. It’s now my responsibility as the teacher to make those in the moment teaching decisions and understand that it is much more relaxing to go with the flow than worrying about everything having it’s perfect plan. I think this trip is going to teach me exactly that. 

I am currently sitting on my plane to Amsterdam nervous and excited to start this adventure. I am not one to step out of my comfort zone like this, but am excited to see how God uses me and strengthens me on this trip. 

For the next 3 weeks I will be student teaching in a Dutch elementary school. By doing this, I will gain a whole new perspective on a different country’s education system and hopefully take what I learn and use it in my own classroom one day. I know immersing myself in this environment will be one of the most beneficial tools I can give my students. Being globally and culturally aware is critical aspect to education and I am excited to become more culturally aware this trip!

After we spend three weeks teaching, the group is headed to Spain to do some traveling. I have always been fascinated by Spanish culture and I cannot wait to visit all the places previous abroad friends have suggested. (Hopefully my 8 years of Spanish will come in handy!)

Although I will be missing all my friends, family, and my sweet Lily B. fourth graders, I am excited to come back and share with them how I let this trip “go with the flow” and all the things I have learned. 

Until next time,

Shan

~Disclaimer~ It is currently 3 am on the plane and I haven’t slept- please ignore all grammar mistakes, I’m tired.

 

And we’re off!
  
me and 51 pounds of luggage