Thursday, June 28, 2012

I survived teacher orientation!

This is a short video of the prayer that I hear five times a day - 4:00 am, 12:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm, 8:00 pm. There is a guy who comes on a speaker over the city and sings some song in Bahasa Indonesia ("Indonesian Language") and calls the Muslims ("Moslems") to prayer at the mosque or in their homes. The person who sings/talks on the speaker changes up quite often. There's one particular guy who scares the living daylights out of me with his singing. His voice is so scary and it sounds like I'm in a horror movie. :S The first couple nights I would wake up to it and would have trouble falling asleep but now I sleep right through it! In this video I also filmed part of the view of the city. I hope it's clear enough for you guys to see but you should at least be able to hear the man singing.

This is a video of the kampung or the little poverty stricken villages that you see all over Jakarta. I filmed this on the bus ride home from school.

As for my time in Jakarta, the past week or so has been filled with teacher orientation at Bina Bangsa on the PIK (Panti Indah Kapuk) campus. Yesterday, I did my lesson demo which was roughly a half hour. I taught in front of 4-5 observers and 6 Bina teachers. I was a little nervous but as soon as I started teaching, my nerves went away and it felt natural. I was in my zone :) I did a lesson on homonyms and tried to incorporate as much cooperative learning as possible since they stress that here! All the teachers this week have to do their demo lessons in front of large groups for observation because that's what our observations will look like during the academic year. It is a little nervewrecking at first but it helps when you have an awesome staff and admin to work with. I have the coolest principal and vice-principal. I was laughing with my VP yesterday because we dressed the same! So Elaine, the trend continues :)

Me and Ms Lina, my VP :)
 We have learned so much about the Singapore curriculum and Kagan's cooperative learning. One of the biggest things here that they stress is group work and getting the kids to socialize and move around. They focus on four key elements in a lesson plan (this is for all my teacher friends):

1) Think
2) Learn
3) Do
4) Reflect

So basically they encourage you to use some sort of hook/high order critical type thinking question to start class with. Have the kids work in groups to hypothesize what they think the answer is to whatever your question may be. Then, teach them about it, making sure to engage in meaningful conversation/relevance to their daily lives. Also let the kids work in pairs, a variety of groups, and also by themselves. They also encourage lots of games in their learning. Finally, students reflect on what they have learned. This can take the form of a whole group reflection/discussion about the material, students physically writing down their thoughts or discussing it with their partners, and the teacher also summarizing the content for the day. They also encourage you introduce the objectives to the students in the beginning of the lesson and also at the end, making sure to weave it throughout your lesson.

I will be teaching a P3 and P5 (primary 3rd and 5th) English class as well as a P5 science class. They moved everyone's classes around so this is my official one. The students here are grouped according to ability levels. There are five in the primary grades.

Faith (highest)
Love (lowest)

Then, within the classes, students are grouped into desks forming 1 group (total of 24 kids, so 6 groups) and they are also grouped by ability within their leveled class even further (so you have a high, medium high, medium low, and low group of students sitting together, making sure it's 2 boys and 2 girls).

The students here are going to be so much different from the ones I am accustomed to back home. The kids here are very protected and sheltered. Their parents are very successful and wealthy and own businesses. Each kid has a nanny and a driver. So if there is four kids in one family, it's not uncommon for each kid to have their own driver and own nanny who will carry their backpack for them, clean their rooms, and do their homework. The students here also have very limited world views. In one example essay I was reading during orientation, a student had literally said they were glad they were glad their father was rich and "not a poor middle class office worker." Most kids here at this school typically spend their days indoors or at the local mall. Some of them are involved in sports such as soccer ("football") or badminton but that's about it. Apparently the nanny situation got so ridiculous that they implemented a new school rule across all campuses in Bina Bangsa. Students must carry their own backpacks and their nannies cannot do it for them. For awhile they had told us students were literally sending their backpacks upstairs on the elevator so they wouldn't have to carry them. :-O

Despite the amount of wealth so many of these students have, they are supposed to be extremely respectful and eager to learn. Many of them will catch on to material wicked fast so we must constantly have additional activities ready to go.

The only grades they record here are the assessment grades. They have six big exam grades each semester. Homework, quizzes, classwork, etc is not part of the grade book. The exams they make are carefully constructed with meaningful questions that will give teachers insight into each students' thinking process. Teachers work on these exams months prior to administering them and the work is divided among the teachers.

Today marks the last day of teacher orientation! I cannot believe I have been living in Jakarta for over a week now. It seems so surreal. I am adjusting and learning bits of the language! I am learning it is a must if I want to get around. Some of the words I have learned are..

macasi (mah-kah-see) = thank you
ya = yes
tak (tuck) = no
bodoh (bow-dough) = stupid <-- Josh's new name
Berapa (beer-apa) = how much?
di mana (insert store name here) = where is..?
bicara (bee-char-ugh) = speak
   Bichara Inggris? (Do you speak English?)

OH! And the cockroach situation is slowly improving. They are coming by throughout the week spraying and cleaning out our apartment. Me and Aasha were actually laughing and sitting on furniture last night. Our dear "unofficial" roommates on the 24th floor (Andrew, Ben, Ike, & Josh) thought that maybe we were eaten by a large cockroach since we took so long to come upstairs for the night. Usually we jet out of our apartment but last night it was a 100 times better so fingers crossed it will stay that way. On top of the chemical spraying from the apartment guy, we've had a plant called "pandan" placed around the house to help deter the bugs. It smells like popcorn and for whatever reason, the cockroaches don't like it. You can get it real cheap around town just about anywhere. One of the older teachers bought us some the other day and it has helped some. We also received some bait that you sprinkle around the apartment that kills the bugs. It's kind of fun watching the cockroaches flip on their backs, antennas and legs moving rapidly and then come to a sudden stop. I feel so evil for celebrating their death but man.. they are just disgusting.


Overall, Jakarta is great and I am having so much fun. I already know I am going to be extremely homesick for Jakarta come December when I go home to visit for Christmas break. In the mean time though, me and my friends are planning a trip to Bali over Ramadhan (ram-ugh-dun), the Muslim fast that lasts for roughly 2 weeks in mid-August. Jakarta is supposed to be a ghost town with everything shut down and the Americans aren't going to be too happy about that.. We've found some super cheap tickets and are in the process of looking for a villa or hotel to stay in. There are 11 of us for sure going! 6 boys and 5 girls.. we're really excited! We will also be going to the Gili Islands the last 5 nights to chill out from all our fun in Bali :)

Also, next Tuesday a fairly big group of us will be in Singapore for the day to receive our official work permits! The school has to send us there to get everything processed so we will do some sightseeing. I will make sure to take pictures.

Miss you guys!



  1. I am enjoying reading your blog. It sounds like you are experiencing a lot of really cool things. My school uses Singapore math and I have heard it is based on a lot of the things you mentioned...we will see. Good luck with everything and keep posting for us!

    1. Thanks Carlie! I hope your second year of teaching is already off to a great start! I love the Singapore curriculum!

  2. My dentist lived in Indonesia for years. She was telling me that the people there are, or were, very very clean. They take like 3-5 showers a day. Do you notice that?

    1. Yes, people will ask you if you've showered.. it's a normal topic of conversation. They also insist on showering before dinner. If you don't, they think you're weird. They have these little tubs in the corner of most bathrooms here just so people can rinse off throughout the day because it gets so hot.

  3. It's great to see you -and your group, doing your jobs as well as some much needed relaxation;those students i wonder,if not for you, would they not be home schooled like everything else that's been catered to them. what sort of wealth other than what was made from the sweat of lesser people is the topmost commodities in their country? Like Ashley's statement,in Singapore spitting allowed or else violators are subject to 50 lashes or such(like public caning)with a bamboo cane. How embarrassing..!!

    1. The Jakartans don't really contribute to a large part of the economy because it has been overtaken by the Chinese. The Jakartans just try to make it daily by selling street vendor type food or merchandise.