Sunday, March 30, 2014

Adventures in Computer Skills

Teaching a weekly class in computer literacy is a challenge when you have some students who know more about computers than the teacher and other students who have limited access to computers at home.

"Have the students finish this textbook in this year." Were the directions I was given and the lessons I presented, only to be met with mixed reaction. Some students respectfully completed the lessons and submitted their assignments while others were questioning, WHY. Why do I have to prove to you I already know how this stuff? Why do I have to spend 1 hour doing something I learned years ago? Why can't I             ? (fill in the blank with student's suggested computer or online activity.)  

The challenges left me exhausted! The tension of following the curriculum and trying to make it relevant and motivating to students at different levels of understanding, with the added challenge that we have more students than computers left me saying - "There has to be a better way!

Recently I've tried blogging with the students.

It is a password protected website that allows the students to have a class website and each student have an individual page to post their writing.  It has encouraged creative writing, given practice in publishing, and is building community among the students as they read and comment on each other's posts.  

I see great potential for continued educational uses of the blog such as:  developing social skills, learning internet safety, developing computer technology skills, gaining an authentic audience for our writing, building literacy, reflecting on learning, responding to classroom challenges/homework online, and creating classroom community.

I'm excited to see where the middle schoolers go with this adventure in blogging.
Our website is password protected but you can glimpse our homepage here:

Have any of my readers done a class blog? 
If you visit our class blog please let me know by leaving a comment on this post 
and let me know what corner of the globe you call home.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Teacher Opening at KCS for 2014-15 School Year

 School has been busy and the learning curve teaching new classes, 
to a new age group 
with new staff 
and a new principal 
is where I've been focusing my energy this school year.  

I've found I really enjoy teaching at the middle school level, 
it's a different kind of teaching than previous years teaching 1-3 grade. 
Both are exhausting but in different ways. 
Both are rewarding but in different ways.
- maybe- 
I'll find the right words to express 
the joys
of teaching middle school
what I'm learning from it. 
No two days are the same,
 the kids keep you on your toes 
but they also bless my socks off
 in so many unexpected ways! 

Right now, I want to let you know that there is a teaching opening for next year.  

Kansai Christian School. 
Our small private International Christian school will have a job position open for first/second grade next year. If you, or anyone you know of who is qualified to teach and has a heart for teaching TCKs overseas please apply or encourage, him/her to apply!  Please share this at your local church and pray for God to provide.

 Here is information about the job . . .  

FIRST AND SECOND GRADE TEACHER NEEDED for the 2014-15 school year.  We need a certified lower elementary teacher to teach a combined classroom of 1st and 2nd graders.  It is important to apply and be accepted before the end of March.  Some support raising is encouraged, especially for travel and set-up.  KCS pays an adequate stipend to the sponsoring mission but raising some support will make living in Japan a little easier.  A two-year commitment is requested.  Experience is preferred.

To find an application look at the KCS website under "resources" and "downloads"
Or click here.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have questions or want more information about the job opening!

Monday, September 2, 2013

New Adventures in Teaching

New adventures this year, teaching five new subjects, at a new grade level, with new extra curricular activities, and new leadership responsibilities. We have some new staff members at school and I have a new housemate! My life is crowded with expected and unexpected joys!

This year I'm teaching middle school grades 5-8.  
7&8 : Bible, World Cultures, Pre-Alebra & Math
5&6: Reading, 5 grade Math and 6 grade Math

New extra curricular activities: managing the Library, and responsible for garbage and recycling. (no custodian at our school students do the cleaning) Yeah, just call me the "Garbage Queen."

Our new principal's arrival to Japan has been delayed due to paperwork issues for his visa, we're praying that he'll have the papers and financial support needed to arrive in early October. In the meantime the school board has asked me to take on some new leadership responsibilities at school.  This means leading things like staff orientation, meeting with parents, and handling school discipline issues. Thankfully I have the support of the school board behind me to help with other challenging decisions and an executive assistant with many years experience in administration to help me.

Today was New Teacher Orientation - I led 3 new teachers through a checklist of information to help them transition to KCS. I am excited for the quality staff members he has brought to our team. These 3 teachers have taught on 3 different continents and our now adding a new continent to their list! 

Wednesday is All Staff Orientation where we get our class lists, schedules and have our whole KCS staff team (minus the principal) together in one room for the first time. I anticipate lots of learning to take place and lots of fun conversations ahead. 

Thursday is family school clean-up day.  Fun reunions with students and their parents anticipated as we work together to prepare the school for a new year.

Friday is our first day of school with all the students. We'll start with a "Welcome to School" and then introduce the students to their new teachers, classrooms and textbooks.  

Thank you for praying for the year to get off to a great start!

Praise God with me . . .
*for the staff that is on the team this year.
*for the students that have enrolled this year.
*for a new year to serve God teaching from a Christian worldview in a country with less than 1% Christian.

Please Pray 
*for relationship building and team unity
*for teachers in new roles to quickly grasp their curriculum and responsibilities
*for me as the "Lead Teacher" to have wisdom to know how to lead well, organization to keep track of all the details, and grace to balance all the new things going on the next few weeks.
*for the relationship with my housemate, Emily, to continue to grow (She moved in Saturday. She's lived in Romania but she's from Minnesota too!) 
*that I would allow God to build into me and stretch me during this time. . . that it will shape me and refine me as an educator, and deepen my relationship with Him. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Praise & Prayer

  •   For the opportunity to study Japanese full-time
  •   Blessings of new friendships during the last 7 months
  •   For boldness to use language abilities for His glory
  •   Diligence to continue studying Japanese as I return to teaching ministry
  •   Growth in my Japanese ability to pray and discuss matters of faith
  •   For preparations in my new role as middle school teacher at KCS - school starts the first week of September

Monday, August 26, 2013

Highlights from Language School

Osaka, Arc Academy, January-June 2013

  • Building relationships with people from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy, Spain, France, Sweden, Australia, and U.K.
  • Discovering one classmate from Hong Kong is Christian and introducing her to and international church near her apartment
  • Answering the question, “Who do you pray to?” from a Buddhist/Catholic classmate
  • Exploring Osaka with a Muslim classmate
  • Receiving first place in a speech competition - talking about umbrellas
  • Excursions to a Ninja Museum and Mt. Wakakusa

Sapporo, OMF Japanese Language Center, July-August 2013

  • Spending a month in cool Hokkaido (northern Japanese island), escaping the summer heat of Nara
  • Taking 1-on-1 courses with a Christian teacher at a Christian school discussing the Bible
  • Learning to pray in Japanese
  • Fellowship with missionaries from around the world
  • Connecting with other TCK caregivers
  • Excursions to field of Lavender and a pro baseball game

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Are you Fluent Yet?

*****This is something I wrote for my recent prayer letter.
For those of you who are not subscribed to my prayer letter - but would like to be . . go to the upper right corner of my blog and see "Sign-up for Updates" enter your email and you'll be on the list to receive the next one. ******

With 15 months of language study my first missionary term and now a “refresher” course of 7 months, it feels awkward to say - No, I’m not fluent. In the 8 years that I have lived in Japan I have come to realize there will always be more vocabulary to learn, more grammar forms to master, more kanji to study, more mistakes from which to grow. 

“So, what have you learned?” you ask. I’ve learned lessons in perseverance, humility, purpose, and perspective.  

Perseverance: Some days just showing up to class takes all the energy you have.  I’ve heard it said, “Anyone who wants to learn a language well must have a solid theology of suffering.” Language learning requires teachers repeatedly pointing out your errors and students fully absorbing the teaching without letting it impact your sense of worth.

Humility: Admitting in front of your peers you do not understand a concept requires the courage to be vulnerable. Language learning often causes you to question your intelligence and instigates a battle with pride.  Resisting the temptation to compare abilities with peers and accepting an honest view of personal learning growth is key.

Purpose: Is my main goal to get 100% on the test and become fluent in this language? OR To glorify God through the process of language learning? How can I use the language to share His love with others? How will I respond to what He’s teaching me through the language learning process?

Perspective: I grew in appreciation for the learner’s perspective and hope that will impact my interactions with students this fall as I return to teaching at Kansai Christian School (KCS). I have seen demonstrated how the things teachers say (and don’t say) shape what students learn, and the health of the learning community. 

As a teacher in an international school where English is the language of education, I realize it is a rare gift of time to step away from my teaching responsibilities to study the local language. I thank God for the people who have donated money and time to make it possible. I am also grateful for the teachers who have invested in the process over the last 7 months. I have a better understanding of my language abilities and new ‘tool box’ for future learning.

Join with me in prayer that God will give me boldness to use the language abilities I’ve gained for his glory, strengthening relationships with Japanese neighbors, friends, and parents of my students.
With gratitude,

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Graduation Celebration

Recently OMF Japan Language Center celebrated Bel's graduation.
The students led the ceremony, prayers, speeches and songs all in Japanese.
One professor gave a creative speech,
 telling a story using Japanese words with the sound 'bel' or べる, in them.
Bel had completed 2 years of studying through the curriculum 
and is preparing to transition into ministry in Yokohama.

She was a delight to get to know! Loved her positive attitude!

We also celebrated the July birthdays of teachers and students. 

Here's a photo of me with my teacher, 
Motoko Sensei,
- since classes are one teacher to one student - 
you could also call this my class photo.
Such a delight to learn from and pray with this Christian sister!
I will remember her clear explanations, 
patient correction,  great sense of humor, 
deep understanding of Buddhist and Christian faith, 
gift of hospitality and love of all things PINK!