Okay the jet lag is slowly wearing off like steam rising from a sidewalk as the remnants of a tropical cloud burst evaporates 137 miles north of the equator. The past month had been my and Sara’s third trip to Singapore in two years our second visit to Singapore American School in the same time. The little island nation macheted out of the jungle is becoming a second home to us.
It’s funny how sometimes folks back here in the States assume we are going to be holed up in grass huts and charging our iPads with a surplus diesel generator cantankerously poofing out black smoke rings. The easiest way for me to describe Singapore is imagine New York City – dip it in bleach – fix the entire infrastructure and update the architecture by a hundred years and you’d be getting close.
Speaking of sate of the art, our second stint at the Singapore American School (henceforth to be referred to as SAS) proved to be even better than our first – mainly because we knew our way around the school this time. Knowing and working with some of the same teachers as we did last year it felt more like stepping into the classroom after a long vacation. We all have those long distance friendships with folks that no matter how long the time intervals between meetings we just start right up again mid-sentence. That’s how we feel about SAS.
Thanks to the second invite from our friend Dr. Nancy Johnson, we have had the opportunity to really push ourselves as writers, teachers and education consultants. We are basically embedded into the 8th grade classrooms for three weeks, working with each of the three duets of Reading and Language Arts teachers for a week. We begin each week with three hour and half assemblies for the entire eighth grade a hundred or so students in each session. We then would spend the rest of the week with one “side”. Each side has two teachers and a third of the students – A, B and C sides were respectively on the first, second and third floors. If you think this is a bit confusing – I won’t even go into the schedules which require a slide rule and a Home Depot paint chip chart to figure out.
All we had to do was stand in a room and wait for the kids to show up. It is such a luxury to have so much time with the classes. A lot of the time Sara and I get to see a class of kids once sometimes for less than an hour – here we worked with each group of kids twice apiece. Four hour and half sessions and an assembly to boot really gave us an opportunity to go deeper in our instruction and to build on what the other had worked on the day before.
It’s also easy to look good when working with such dedicated teachers – Nancy, Brian and Brian, Erin, Scott, Rebecca and Betsy all embraced and improved our classroom work encouraging us to go ahead and stretch our ideas. I know we leave SAS better teachers for the experience.