slice of life challenge day #6: a baby in paris

slice of life 2014

I decided to do a #tbt (throw back thursday) slice of life post!


On a cold winter day,

a red plaid scarf,

a pink puffy jacket,

and a simple stroller,

all waiting eagerly

 to get their picture sketched.

Does anyone remember,

a baby in Paris?

Artists armed with sharp pencils,

 line the cobble stone streets,

high atop Montmartre,

nestled between cafes,

with coffee and cafe au laits,

sitting on chairs facing the street,

people watching,

a baby smiles.

Waiting, wondering and wishing,

an artist starts to draw.

From a blank canvas,

emerges a drawing,

captured on paper.

No longer forgotten,

someone remembers,

a baby in Paris.

slice of life challenge day #5: a place to call home

slice of life 2014

When I lived in Korea, I lived in 3 different apartments in the span of 4 years. Part of the perks of being an international school teacher in Asia is that most schools provide housing for you. Another great thing about living in Korea was that the movers will PACK and UNPACK your luggage for a relatively affordable price. Plus, they are really quick and efficient with it. So moving, doesn’t end up being as big of a pain.

The last apartment I lived in was probably my favorite of the three. I had the master bedroom, a walk in closet (much needed) and a bidet toilet. Plus, in our apartment complex, only an elevator and short walk away were multiple restaurants (including Korean BBQ & soondoobo place), cafes, 7-11, dentist, dry cleaners, Baskin Robbins, karaoke, and more. Also, a few of my close friends and co-workers lived in the same building or neighboring apartment buildings.

After Korea, I moved to Singapore, and I felt very thankful that my school here provided us with a generous housing allowance. Singapore is considered apparently one of the most expensive cities to live in, which I don’t doubt especially with it high housing costs (World’s most expensive city)! This year, my apartment lease is ending and I wasn’t sure what I would do. Should I look for a new apartment or stay in my current place. I admit that my current apartment is really a good size for me, in good condition and I’ve had no big complaints, besides the certain gecko that likes to visit me sporadically.

I received an e-mail from my real estate agent today saying that my landlord was willing to renew my lease and keep my rent the same. I was a bit surprised. It seems like my choice has been made a lot easier for me now. However, I admit, I was a bit excited at the prospect of finding a new apartment, a new neighborhood to explore, and a new place to decorate.  Maybe it’s from moving homes every year or so in Korea. Maybe it’s this desire for change. Maybe it’s this wandering soul of mine.

Or just maybe, God wants me to stay put this time.


slice of life challenge day #4: finding joy

slice of life 2014

Sometimes you just need to take some time to stop and reflect on some of those small moments from the past few days that brought you some extra joy.

  • I received an e-mail from one of my student’s parent with her slice of life post. She decided to participate in the challenge along with her son and our class. I was completely blown away by her first post; she’s an incredible writer.
  • I received an e-mail from a good friend about the birth of her baby girl with pictures attached of the beautiful newborn!
  • In class we are working on fantasy stories and some of my students decided to put their own drawings into ibooks author, which we are using to publish their pieces. I saw quite a few of my students offer to draw pictures for other students’ fantasy books. It was great to see students that aren’t close friends helping each other out!
  • Yesterday, I was thinking about buying some flowers for myself because flowers make me happy. However, I didn’t have time to get them. Then, this afternoon, I had two surprise visits in my classroom. I received two huge and beautiful bouquets of flowers from my fifth grade team and the lovely ladies that I take a taxi with every morning to school.



  • Yesterday, I had a chance to eat dinner with a good friend and catch up. She texted me while I was on the MRT (subway) home and the timing worked out perfectly.
  • I didn’t get a chance to watch the Oscars, but I must admit, I loved seeing the selfie photo of the night.


What small moments brought a smile to you these past few days?

slice of life challenge day #3: about time

slice of life 2014

I’m a day late again for my post, but I’m going to keep going. Last night, I fell asleep with my laptop next to me on my bed, with my blank blog post for the day open on the screen. All that I had typed in was “slice of life challenge day #3”. It has been one of those weeks, incredibly draining emotionally and physically, and it’s only Tuesday night.

Sometimes you just need a break, which is hard for teachers, when it always seems to be “go, go, go”. How amazing would it be if teachers got 1 full day a month without students, no grade level meetings, no parent e-mails to respond to, no professional development meetings, and were allowed time in their classroom to plan, grade, and reflect on the learning of their students?! Even though 1 full day a month would probably not be enough time, think about the impact that could make on student learning and teacher effectiveness.

I’m not sure if it’s just part of my school culture that teachers feel so overwhelmed and busy, or maybe it’s just something that all teachers face. I’ve taught in four different schools (2 NYC public schools and 2 international schools), in the past 11 years and I can definitely say that no matter the environment (public vs. private), there always seems like there’s too much to do. How many teachers have you met can say, I have enough time in the school day to get all my planning, grading and all those other added responsibilities done? Or what about teachers that say, I never have to bring work home during the week or the weekends?  If you have met those teachers, please have them share with us their secrets.

I’ve come to realizing that we need to embrace the work load and finding ways to manage it so that it’s reasonable. One part of that would be to let go of achieving perfection, and make a priority list. Is this activity or item on my to do list really necessary? How can you decide what is necessary? For me, it’s all about going to my core beliefs and values on my role as an educator. I think a lot about how does this impact student learning.

In addition to spending time on things that will positively impact student learning, I really value building the individual relationships with my students and making sure they know they are valued. So even if it means spending extra time at home commenting on my student blogs (they are all participating in the slice of life challenge), sometimes you just need to take that time, to make sure they know that you care.  In the end, I think it will probably be those little things that you do for your students, like handwritten birthday notes, checking in with a student that looks sad after recess, or sharing how impressed you were with their writing that will resonate in their souls.

How do you manage to balance your time as an educator? How do you find the time to get everything done?

slice of life challenge day #2: missed calls

slice of life 2014

The first thing I do in the morning is usually checking my iphone or pressing the snooze button on my iphone alarm. Today was a Sunday morning, and I woke up on my own a little before 9AM. I always keep my phone on vibrate during the night, so when I checked my phone, I was surprised to see a bunch of text message and 10 missed phone calls from my dad in the States. I opened the text message from my dad that said, “Halmuni (grandmother in Korean) passed away now.”

It took some time for it to really hit me what those words meant. Everything else on my mind seemed to take a pause.  It was the moment I was dreading, the moment that deep inside I knew would happen, especially after the heart attack she had earlier on in December and considering how she was 102 years old. I just thought that I would have more time.

I kept thinking about the last conversation we had over Google hangout on Thursday night, where she asked me what I ate for dinner, and then asked me when would I see you again. And I replied, in 3 months, when I come home for the summer. It looks like it might take me a little longer to see you again. ❤


slice of life challenge day #1: the “f” word

slice of life 2014

This month, I’m committing to participating in the slice of life challenge for the entire month of March, along with my fifth grade students. It’s not an easy task, and seeing how I already missed the first day, you might think that it’s not a good sign. However, I was reminded of this TEDxYouth talk I recently saw that talked about the “F” word.

Yes, I failed on day 1 of this challenge. And at one point, I thought, I should just not even start. Why even bother with this challenge? I’ve already missed the first day. It would be so much easier if I didn’t participate. However, so many times in my life, I learned that failure is needed in order to achieve success. I am not going to fear failure, and instead I will embrace it, and move forward from it. So, I will continue to write on this journey and participate for the 3rd year in a row on the Slice of Life Writing Challenge hosted by The Two Writing Teachers. Will you join me on this challenging, but rewarding journey? It’s ok if you missed the first day, it’s definitely not too late to join. 🙂

taking a moment to listen

slice of life 2014

It was the end of a long day, my throat was hurting, I felt exhausted, and I was ready to go home. However, we still had 30 minutes of class left. As my students wrapped up typing their fantasy story drafts, I asked if anyone wanted to share their introduction. I called on a particular student to share because I was so amazed when I sat next to him and read his draft earlier on. Then, more hands went up. One student exclaimed after hearing one student’s story, “I can’t wait to hear what happens next!” Originally, I was only going to have two or three students share, but as I kept listening, and more hands went up, I wanted to hear them all.

As I listened to the stories of my students, I couldn’t help but smile. My students could write. They had voice, they had realistic dialogue, they had inner thinking, they had conflicts, they had archetypal characters, they had suspense, and they had creativity.

Most days, I’m busy beating myself up, wishing I could be a better teacher  (imagine working on a team with 13 really amazingly talented fifth grade teachers everyday), and seeing areas I can improve on. However, today was one of those days, where I just needed to sit back and listen. Listen to the voices of my 22 students, sharing a piece of themselves, in a way no one else can. I listened, I enjoyed and I smiled.

Slice of Life Tuesdays is sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers. Join us & write.