Mother Tongue

I absolutely love being at an International School…it has really made me think about possibly teaching across seas (at least for a year or two). I feel like such a “newb” to have said I have only lived inside the DFW metroplex my entire life. These children as well as teachers have been exposed to so much of the world. Not only are they more knowledgable about different people and different cultures but they are also so much more accepting than what I see in the United States. In the United States when children get to a certain age…if someone is “different” than them, they stray away. It is so far from that here. Everyone is different, there is no normal. This is what I love. This is what I will bring to my classroom, whether I am teaching in a small town in Texas or across seas in another country.

Today was quite a long, rainy, and cold day. The morning started off very slow. I could NOT wake up for the sake of me. I drank 2 cafe au lait, one with a shot of expresso…no help. Finally after our language arts and phonics in the morning, I slowly began to wake up. Our morning looked quite similar to yesterday because we were still continuing to work on the same activities (3D penguins and lost posters) except we also had library this morning. Library here looks very similar to library in the United States. The librarian reads a story to the children, they check out books, and then get to look at books for the remainder of time. The library is labeled with leveled books so the students can choose a book that is of their level. There is the yellow, red, green, and blue sections. There is also a section that you see below labeled “mother tongue picture books” which has books in languages of the students. For example: Dutch, Spanish, French, German, and Italian.

After our hour lunch 🙂 the class had maths. I don’t know why they call it “maths” not just math here. I am going to ask about that tomorrow…Maths was very short today. I feel like majority of the time spent during the day is focused on the stations. Math is one of the stations that the students complete in small group with Ms. Lisa but it involves just one quick activity. The whole group maths time today was focused on money. Next Wednesday, the school has student led conferences which basically involves the teachers sitting back and the students showing their parents around the room (the different stations) for the whole first half of the day–since Wednesday is a half day. Because of this, we have set up a store in the room with priced items. The students are learning about how to count money. They are then able to purchase different items in the store. Today, the students started this station. One student would be the cashier and others would pay the cashier for items they found and wanted to purchase. Before this, the class went over the different coins they have in Europe. They went over the 50cent, 20 cent, 10 cent, 5 cent, 2 cent, and 1 cent. They also discussed the 1 euro and 2 euro although all items in the store are under 50cents because the students are just beginning to learn.

At the end of the day, I went to another year 1 classroom for mother tongue and to help with home time because the assistant teacher had left. Mother tongue is every Tuesday. This classroom (1W)—they call each class by the room number (so my classroom is 1R)—in 1W the students read books in Chinese with their year 2 partner as well as Spanish. I read English to another group of students who spoke English and were also from parts of the World such as Africa and did not have a year 2 mother tongue partner. It was interesting getting to see another group of year 1 kiddos as well as work with another year 1 teacher who was also fabulous. I really am falling more in love with this school every day!!! Can’t wait for tomorrow 🙂

In the picture to the right, Ms. Russell is holding “WALT” who is their talking puppet. Walt encourages the students to ask questions about what they are learning that day. Walt answers to the children. This is a good way to help the students feel like they are hearing from someone besides only their teacher. To the left, Ms. Russell is at the teacher-student small group table…similar to “the teacher table” in the United States. She works with small groups during centers every day (either math, reading, or writing). When Ms. Lisa does small group, she takes the students to a quiet place outside the classroom. This is wonderful because then there is only a small amount of students left working on the other stations, helping the room from getting too noisy and students are more able to focus on their work.


Case of the Mondays

As a teacher…I feel like the case of the Mondays couldn’t be more real. Waking up this morning at 7:05 was a huge challenge. Good thing Wrenn had already made coffee 🙂 Once we got to school, the class begun the day with Language Arts/IPC. This took up a good chunk of the morning. During this time, the students completed centers, guided reading with Ms. Russell and maths with Ms. Lisa. This week started a new unit for the students which was “fantasy.” This week it was fantasy in the North and South pole, so it was real world. The students had a dress-up center, a dollhouse with “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” At the writing center, the students completed small books with free write and started making Wanted/Lost posters for different animals that lived in the North and South pole. Every center in the classroom follows along with the theme of that week. So, the carpet/books/math/writing/art centers are all changed each week although they keep the same group of centers. I was in charge of the art center today and will be completing the same activity with the rest of the students tomorrow. Because they learned about 3-D shapes last week, they are making 3-D penguins this week. It is so amazing to see how the work throughout the different weeks connects, which I got to see happen today. I wasn’t there last Monday, so I also got to observe guided reading. Every Monday Ms. Russell leads guided reading. The levels are followed from the U.K, which is different from the United States. For example, the students may be at a Level B and in the Green color. I observed the level of reading being much lower than what I have seen of similar age in the States. I also find it surprising the little amount of time that is focused on reading. Writing/Science/Maths/Art is much more heavily looked at. The students still struggle in writing and reading, most likely because English is not their first language.

Phonics came after snack and break time. I sat in again with Ms. Russell’s group (the highest level of phonics). The students first went over CVCC words. They had a competition between boys and girls of who could read the most CVCC words in one minute. The boys won! Ugh! Then the students sat around in a circle and each student was given a strip of paper with a sentence containing challenging CVCC and CCVC words. The students were to individually read the sentence and when it was their turn read the sentence aloud and decide if the sentence belonged in the igloo (the sentence made sense) or it belonged in the trash bin (it was rubbish/did not make sense). This activity was quick and easy! The students then begun learning and practicing reading CVCC words, which they hadn’t done much on. Tomorrow the students will be working on tricky words. Right now, they are in phase 4 of the tricky words in phonics. Ms. Russell mentioned how they will move on to phase 5 tricky words tomorrow!


That pretty much summed up the morning. The afternoon went quickly. The students had lunch, dutch, P.E, and then only about 30 minutes left before it was time to pack up and go home. In that 30 minutes, we introduced the story that was mentioned at the beginning of the day. The students are starting to make predictions in their guided reading, so we discussed this as a group. The students were to make predictions based upon the title of the story: “Lost and Found.” Some students understood what this meant while others sat quietly. Ms. Russell then read the story to the students. I thought that she could have used the making predictions technique throughout the entire reading of the story but maybe she will do this later on in the week. Overall, it was a wonderful day! The teachers here get so much more “free” or may I use the word “planning” time which is so lucky. During snack, lunch, recess, and breaks, the teachers are either planning or taking a break of their own. The teaching assistant (there is one in each room) is in charge of walking the students to where they need to be and sitting with them during snack. There are monitors that watch the kids during recess/lunch/ and morning break! However, the teachers do one duty a week and Ms. Russell’s outside break duty is today! Days truly fly by here. I cannot believe it is already week 2!

xoxo, mer

I amsterdam

A weekend most definitely for the books!!!! This past weekend we went to Amsterdam with us 10 girls! It was loads of fun! We left Thursday night and got to Amsterdam just in time for dinner and to explore the town. We originally planned on going Friday so we stayed at a cramped and quite crummy hostel but at least the location of it was good. Right next to Walk to Wok….which is legit one of my favorite fast food places in all of Europe…make your own stir fry. I was most definitely of Asian decent in my first life 🙂

Thursday night was Liza’s birthday so after our 15 minute trek with our luggage, we made it to the bus stop, rode the bus for 30 minutes then the train for another 30 minutes. By the way….this is how we have to travel every time we want to go somewhere. Even to the city center…15 minute walk and 30 minute bus ride…. ooooh Roompot. That night we found a random restaurant which turned out to be very fun and super cheap! We went out on the town that night. Friday was the disclosure concert….it was unbelievable. After a few songs…we managed to get to the front row for “latch.” It was unreal. During the day we shopped and went to the Anne Frank House. I have been to Amsterdam before and have done all the same stuff but it was still amazing to see and be able to do it all again. Saturday night was Wrenn’s birthday. I made a reservation for Salmuera. Salmuera I am telling you…the best restaurant Ive been to in all of The Netherlands. It is an Argentinian steakhouse but it is so chic and boutique, the farthest thing from touristy. It was a bit pricey but the steak and cocktails were to die for. Pineapple, basil margarita!!!! YUM!!!!! That night we went to a local bar our waiter recommended. It was a great birthday night for Wrenn. On sunday we went to the Heineken museum which is an awesome and super fun place to see, thanks Mary for the free tickets! Overall, the trip to Amsterdam was great. We made it back last night to The Hague in the rain but safe and sound 🙂


Today students in The Hague get out at 12:30…so we decided to take the day and travel to Delft. Delft is a city about 20 minutes outside of The Hague. It was a quaint and quiet little town thats a bit more beautiful than The Hague. It was a bit of a ghost land. Not sure if its because people are on holiday or it was just a tad cold and rainy.

I first have to tell you about the truffle goat cheese I had. It was my FAVORITE cheese I’ve ever had and that is saying a lot. I wanted to buy it and bring it back to Fort Worth but last time I bought cheese in Spain the man said I could go months without refrigerating it and within days it reeked…so I decided against buying it :/ We walked around the town and looked into tiny gift shops. There wasn’t many boutiques but there were three beautiful churches. We went into a 600 year old Catholic church and climbed 400 stairs to get to the top of the clock tower. This stairwell was very tiny and freezing cold. Once we finally reached the top and were quite winded, the view over all of Delft was amazing. After we were finished, my legs were shaking and a glass of red wine was calling my name. We went to a nearby cafe in the square and sat outside with heaters and blankets and enjoyed some red wine. Here they basically just have red or white wine. Its a bit sweet but its only about 3.50 euros. Well worth it! We then went to a local Italian restaurant nearby and had some spaghetti bolognese. Superb Day!!


year 1 kiddos

So my adventure teaching ‘year 1’ kiddos at The International School of the Hague has begun. This school is AMAZING. I cannot even begin to describe the way that it is not only set up but the atmosphere, relationships, and eagerness of the students to learn that encompasses the school. I didn’t know what exactly to expect from primary schools in the Netherlands except for the knowledge about how wonderful their education system is. I am so excited to share and compare the International School of the Hague with public schools I have seen in the United States.

To begin…I thought I should share that year 1 students are all around 5 and 6 which I wasn’t aware of when requesting my placement. At 9am yesterday we arrived at the school, we were greeted with the primary school staff, given a tour, and led to our classroom. I was welcomed quickly with large hugs from little small children in their large puffy coats, mittens, and hats. As you may already know because this is an International school…students are from all over the World. My class specifically has students from Turkey, Greece, Holland, Germany, America, Russia, The U.K, Armenia, and Israel. My cooperating teacher’s name is Jade Russell. She is the head of the Year 1 group and is an amazing teacher. She is young, in her late 20’s-early 30’s (just guessing) and is from Scotland. Twice a week the students have Dutch and once a week they have mother tongue. The students are required to take Dutch because in The Hague the government provides some money to the International School of the Hague. However, the school follows the International Curriculum. On Tuesday afternoon I got to watch the mother tongue part of the day. All of the lessons or periods last only about 20 minutes. For mother tongue, students from year 2 or year 3 that speak the same native language come down and read a book and work in stations in the year 1 classroom with the students. It really is an awesome opportunity because it helps the students that are learning English keep up with their native language. The teachers are also very relaxed with the students. The students have to ask to go to for example ‘the toilet’ as they say but are allowed to go alone and walk to different classrooms alone. It is much less strict then classes in the United States but it also could be because the students are a lot less likely to misbehave? I really am not quite sure yet.

The schedule is a bit different from that in the United States. The children have much shorter lessons times, more play/lunch/break times but yet they still seem to not only be at a higher level than the students I’ve observed in the U.S but they also are much better behaved. I am eager to see how this works successfully in the classrooms in The Netherlands, so I will let all of you know some tips when I have seen a bit more of the class.

Wednesday’s at all primary school’s in The Hague…students get out at 12:30 and teachers have the later half of the day for professional development. I cannot explain how wonderful this is. It is a bit of a drag that the students have less time for learning, but the teachers are given time to plan, get things graded, and attend staff development meetings. Since we are student teachers here and my teacher didn’t have anything she needed me to, we got the rest of the day off 🙂

Ill share with you in my next post a little bit about what we did this afternoon.



roompot adventures

We have made it safe and sound in the Hague!! Sorry I am a day late on posting! Once we arrived at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, we were greeted with a TCU flag and a group full of exciting Dutch friends. They welcomed us in with open arms and brought us to their cars in the parking lot. There were a few giggles because of our large luggage and their tiny Dutch cars. And when I say tiny Dutch cars….I mean really tiny. We drove about 30 minutes and arrived at Roompot Vakanties. The website makes this look like a Schlitterbahn resort….but its a tad different. Little did we know we would be at a campsite away from all civilization. To get to the bus its at least a 20 minute walk. Once we settled in, we met with Astrid and Sigurd (our supervisors in The Hague) as well as our buddies who are adorable junior Dutch students wanting to become teachers. They took us to the supermarket and gave us directions for day 2. The TCU students were given three different condos (two for three people and one for four). I am living with Wrenn and Gayle. These condos have two twin sized beds in each room, a living area, and kitchen. They are very big for European living 🙂 I do regret not bringing my own towel and sheets but I have been managing. The first night we just unpacked, had some snacks, red wine, and rested up for our first day adventures. Talk about jet lag :/

Here are some photos of where we are living:

My bedroom. The outside view of our house and our kitchen!






And we’re off! Today I begun my one month adventure of teaching ‘year 1’ kiddos in The Hague, Netherlands.

Naturally…I woke up at 7am because I’m now considered “a teacher”….so basically I have a mental alarm that goes off every morning at 6:20. Sleeping in would have been nice :/ I grabbed my morning Starbucks, finished packing (had to sit on my suitcase to close it) and drove to pick up Wrenn. For those of you that don’t know, Wrenn is my best friend who will be accompanying me on this adventure. My sweet roommates all came to drop us off at DFW, which is about 30 minutes from Fort Worth. We met the rest of our COE friends in terminal C, gate 39. There are 10 of us from Early Childhood Education at TCU that will be teaching in The Hague. We boarded our three hour flight from DFW to PHL. This plane was one of the smallest planes…talk about no air conditioning and people snoring all around me. Landed in Philly around 5. Dreamt of a getting a Philly cheesesteak but agreed upon chicken tenders and a Miller Lite from the closest pub. Right now were sitting in the airport waiting to board our flight to Amsterdam. Delayed 15 minutes. Hoping 15 minutes doesn’t end up being more…Wish us luck!

XOXO, mer