Trial class at British Council Open House

[Open House Preview Session]

Mention British Council and I’m sure we will think of quality English enrichment courses from preschool all the way to secondary school level by highly qualified English Language teachers. These courses deliver the same learning outcomes as the local MOE curriculum through the British Council’s teaching methodology. Since its inception, it has built a strong reputation as the go-to English experts in Singapore.

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To give you a heads-up, British Council will hold its Open House in a few weeks’ time and a key highlight of the event will be the free trial classes that parents can register their children for. Parents and their children will be able to experience the teaching methodology that the British Council adopts in their courses as well as have the opportunity to speak to academic heads. There will also be fun activities catered for families and children such as balloon sculpting and face-painting. Parents will also enjoy exclusive discounts when they sign up for an enrichment course on these dates.

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Over the weekend, Faith attended the preview session of the Open House and enjoyed the lesson tremendously. During the session, the children were treated to a storytelling session with a lesson on the digraph ‘sh’ and ‘ch’.

I had high expectations of the lesson and Mr Scott, the head of Preschool courses delivered. The kids were all ears as he read out the story and every one of them participated actively. If you were a teacher, you would like this group of children. It makes teaching so enjoyable.

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Smart board was used during the lesson and I guess the children were fascinated with it and wanted to have a try at using it. I like it that Mr Scott was a skillful storyteller and could ask good questions to get the children thinking.

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The preschool at British Council employs the practices from both the United Kingdom and Singapore to provide holistic, hands-on and concrete learning, with a strong emphasis on language and literacy. The play-based, exploratory approach is influenced by Montessori, high-scope and inquiry based learning.

Language learning is made fun with games!

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Of course, there would be serious work to check one’s understanding of the lesson!

British Council’s preschool courses focus on improving early literacy and oral communication skills for learners between the ages of 3 to 6. The courses start at Nursery 2 in which children are introduced to the alphabet and single letter phonics through the Jolly Phonics approach. Class size is kept small and there are English and Mandarin language teachers in each classroom to provide for a bilingual setting.

I am only touching on the tip of the iceberg in this post but if you are interested to find out more about the courses available or would like to get your child to experience the lesson through their trial classes during the Open House, do visit their website https://www.britishcouncil.sg/openhouse to find out more. There are different dates for the different centres. The cost of the trial class is free so do take advantage of this great opportunity!

For your reading pleasure:

:: Articles and tips that are useful for parents

:: Activities for kids

Happy Teachers’ Day

Today is a school holiday in our country in appreciation of all our teachers who work tirelessly for the children. Teaching is a tough yet fulfilling job and though I’m no longer an educator now, I consider myself a teacher still to my own child. Hopefully, in years to come, I could still go back to teaching (I love it).

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It’s my first year doing something for the teachers of Faith since it’s her first year of schooling. They are nothing fanciful, just something that I enjoy doing like baking. I had wanted Faith to chip in but I guess she could do so the following year. This time round, perhaps just let the Mama do the work?

Happy Teachers’ Day. We really appreciate all the hard work that you put in.

Thank you!

8 Gift Ideas for Teachers’ Day

Teachers’ Day is round the corner and since the girl is in school, that means that there are teachers to appreciate. I could remember the many gifts that the pupils gave to me on that special day but the more memorable ones were those drawings and cards made personally by the pupils. One doesn’t have to spend a bomb on Teachers’ Day gifts (anyway, we cannot accept expensive gifts) but I thought the following are good gift ideas.

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Most teachers need a lot of caffeine to keep themselves awake throughout the day. We keep sachets of coffee and tea in our drawers and we wouldn’t mind coffee such as the above.

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Some teachers prefer tea to coffee and I thought this is a nice way to package the tea bags. Get your child to help make the ‘tea cup’!

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I know teachers are busy and at times, they skip meals just to catch up with marking and preparation of the lessons. If you are into baking, cookies are always welcome. You can always reuse jam jars and place the cookies in it or you can even use the CD envelope to package them! I know Daiso sells nice jars!

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If you want to go an extra mile and decorate the cookies, these are beautiful ones and they are sure to cheer the teachers up! These are sugar cookies decorated either using royal icing or fondant. Get the child to help!

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This is another wonderful gift idea. Teachers need energy throughout the day and these snacks will surely help!

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How about baking cupcakes for the teachers? Involve your children in the baking and wrapping of the cupcakes and they will be super proud as they present these sweet treats to their teachers.

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Fancy gifting the teachers a personalised mug with your own designs and wordings on it? The Gethsemane Care Ministry (TGCM), set up in 2005 by Gethsemane Bible Presbyterian Church, is a Gospel outreach (non-profit & self-sustaining) to those who are enslaved in the bondage of drug addiction. The Ministry serves to improve the life of the residents by providing livelihood and preparing them to integrate back to society. Recently they expanded their line of service (from disposal, removal, painting, cleaning, transport)  to high resolution Photo Mug Printing services. The prices of the customised mugs range from $7 to $11 and are meaningful gifts for teachers.On top of that, your patronage of the services offered by TGCM will go a long way in helping this ministry stay viable and effective. To engage their service, you may call 62816356.

You may read more about the experience of Mummy Ade who had engaged their services.

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As I have mentioned, nothing beats a card that is handmade by the pupil himself (but that’s just me) and you could perhaps add these gift tags which serve as great bookmarks!

Now, what should I get or make for Faith’s teachers?

National Day Celebration 2015

Yesterday, F’s school celebrated its Sports Day in conjunction with Singapore’s 50th birthday. I was excited because it is the first time I’m attending NOT as a teacher but as a parent!

Our family members were clad in red and white and we set off to the Sports Hub in the morning with high spirits. Upon reaching, Faith was on her skate-scoot and when she saw the crowd before her, she tensed up. In the end, I had to be in the line with her.

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Since she is one of the shortest kids in her class, she had to be in the front and I, too. I was a tad embarrassed (can you see my expression) but I had to stand beside her since she would make a fuss when I stepped out. Sigh!

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In the end, I sang the national anthem and recited the pledge with the kids, all thanks to the little girl. I’m still trying to understand her personality. While she could be so friendly with a stranger on a one-to-one basis, she is a totally different character when it comes to a crowd.

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The sports meet was next and after watching and cheering for the other classes, it’s the N1 pupils’ turn! Many of the children were shy and wanted their parents to take part with them. Of course, the parents obliged.

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It’s the hubs’ turn when it comes to sports now and I certainly hope that both of them had fun. Faith looked relieved after the match was over.

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Singing National Day songs…

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There was a short break in between the photo taking session and the hubs got her interested in getting the ants to climb onto the twig. She definitely was more interested in this activity and was captivated for a good amount of time.

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But the highlight had to be snack time because that’s when her eyes lit up. She was active and alert all of a sudden and was in her cheerful mode again. So, you know what will make her happy now?

😉

First MTP session (May 2015)

Last Friday, i met up with Faith’s teachers to discuss her progress in N1.

So it seems that she has adjusted well to school and is well-liked by all. She could share and take turns and has an eye for details. Ms V cited the example of the colour sorting task that requires the pupils to concentrate in matching the related colours. It is a rather advanced work for pupils her age but she could manage it well.

imagesFaith is also independent and prefers to do things herself rather than relying on her teachers. When she’s in doubt, she will ask the teachers. For language, it seems she knows her sounds and I’m advised to continue to revise the letter sounds during the school holiday. Maths’ wise, I need to continue to get her to understand that the symbols 1 -10 have meaning and to continue to practise working on that at home.

In terms of Chinese, Faith has to catch up (as compared to English). According to teacher L, she doesn’t want to speak the language during the lesson although when she was encouraged by the teacher to do so, she would. Teacher L told me that the little girl was actually listening in class but was afraid to speak up. She could name the items in Mandarin when she was assessed and that’s good. Well, I guess I would need to continue to speak with her in Mandarin. Our environment is really not conducive for learning Chinese!

IPuIVses4oOgCdYnqYySWe received her portfolio and progress report. All artwork are now displayed in her room which she is proud of. And, just look at how detailed the progress report is. Every area is noted by the teachers and as parents, we would be able to know how to help our children at home. Hats off for preschool teachers!

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So my current major concern for her is the Chinese language and I wasted no time. We happened to pass by a book fair organised by the Asian Festival of Children’s Content during the weekends and when I saw the Chinese books on display, I couldn’t resist! In the end, I bought a few sets of readers for the little girl because I would need to read to her more and to get her to recognise the Chinese words (though the latter is not so urgent).

20150603_203916I know I will be really busy during this school holiday. ;p

Faith goes to school!

The day finally came for Faith to attend school and it was quite an experience for me! The weeks leading to the commencement of school saw me preparing the little one for her new adventure. We talked a lot about going to school, how her cousins love learning in school and read relevant storybooks. We even got her to wear her school uniform and carry her own bag. Trial run!

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So, the little one had mentioned that she wanted to go to school all these while when I asked her. she sounded enthusiastic but I know I would meet with obstacles on the first day. Faith had never attended any drop-off classes and while she had attended multiple playdates, I was with her all the time. This time round, I have to disappear from the scene and I wonder how she would react.

Thankfully, the school has allowed parents to be in the class for 3 days to slowly transit the young kids. We were advised to leave the classroom once we felt that we were ready to let go and let the school staff handle. I thought this is thoughtful of them. They must have realised that the parents are equally anxious (if not more!) as the children.

On the first day, I assured Faith that I would be back for her after 3 hours and bade her farewell. She nodded her head and I left, with her sitting at the assembly area. And she didn’t move AT ALL. She sat there, frozen, with her hand clenched. That pose remained for a good 10 minutes before she wailed.

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I knew she was trying to control herself from crying but in the end, she couldn’t hold the tears any longer. I reached out to her ( I was hiding behind a wall all along!) and calmed her. Thankfully, she cooled down after a short while and joined in the activities.

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I’m thankful that the principal was very hands-on and reached out to Faith. She made her feel at home and stayed by her side. I guess Faith just needed to be with a constant figure and to know that she is safe. I tried to be away from her sight when she was engaged with the activities, preferring to have the teachers tend to her instead of having me by her side.

The first day ended on a pretty good note. When I asked her if she liked school, she replied positively.

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On the second day which was the following Monday, she entered the premise with resistance. The fact that there was another boy who was crying non-stop didn’t help the situation. The teacher whisked the crying Faith in and I left the school quickly. When I picked her up, I was told (by the principal) that she stopped crying after a while and just needed to be with someone she’s familiar with. That day, all the other parents stopped short of entering the classroom which helped in transiting the children.

On the third day, Faith hugged and kissed me goodbye and into the classroom she went. There was a little tearing and reluctance but that’s about it.

Fourth day? No tears. Hallelujah!

Honestly, I thought it would be a whole week of drama for me and I have mentally prepared myself for this episode. But, it has turned out to be so much better than I had expected. The first two days were difficult. So much separation anxiety for both kids and parents alike. I was sharing with another parent that I felt so bad to have enrolled Faith in the school at such a young age and the parent (a SAHM) agreed. Both of us were guilt-laden. I guess we were not the only ones, right?

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Children are highly adaptable beings and once there is consistency in routine, they will be all right. I guess when the children see the same people every day and know that they can be safe in that environment, they will ease up and enjoy the activities and company of others. Each time Faith came out from the classroom, she would recount what she had gone through (in her own ways, of course) that day. It is indeed a joy to see her enjoying school. The principal told me that a girl who is a year older than Faith kept looking out for her and when Faith was sad, she could go over and comfort her. Oh, how sweet!

I learnt to let go and to have faith in the school. The staff members have dealt with the same situation every year and they would know what to do.

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“Do you like school?”

“Yes…”

“Do you want to go to school?”

An enthusiastic ‘yes’.

🙂

School isn’t that bad after all.

Orientating Faith to her nursery school

The other day, F and I went down to her nursery school for orientation which basically means information dissemination for the parents. She was happy to see the playground but since it was raining, she couldn’t spend time there.

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I wish the space was bigger but since their enrolment is small, I guess it’s ok? The little one was fascinated by the kids’ sinks and toilets and wanted to wash her hands by herself.

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The briefing took about an hour an the little one was bored. Thankfully, I had quite a fair bit of rubbish in my bag and got her to tear the carpark coupons and to share her stickers with her future classmates. The other children, obviously restless, came swarming to her for stickers which she willingly shared -strategy for making friends. Hah!

20141118_104507I guess the little one felt comfortable in her new environment because she went off by herself to mingle with the other kids while I busied myself with settling the administrative stuff. Perhaps I was around and thus she was at ease. In any case, I’m glad that she’s no longer sticking to me for her dear life and only looking out for me occasionally.

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I hope she’s ready for school. For a while, I’ve been resisting the thought of having her in school since she is still young. But I guess the scouting of schools and subsequently admitting her into one was timely as the hubs has a change in his job scope and would most probably return home later than usual. And that would mean I would be looking after her for a longer period of time! I guess the few hours in school would help me keep sane?

Time to get her to be more ready for school and I thought the following books are good to prepare her for her upcoming adventure!

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Protected: My kind of preschool, finally!

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A day in the kindy … in Paris

These few days, I have been toying with the idea of putting Faith in school. I have had enough of her tantrums and she’s pushing boundaries all most of the time. I have been raising my voice to get my point across and disciplining her and I’m just short of getting the cane to work (and thankfully I haven’t bought it). She’s really getting too comfortable with me. Either that or she’s really bored. At the end of the day, I have a headache and a sore throat; this is worse than my teaching days.

This phase will soon pass, so say my friends. I just pray that I will not scar her emotionally as we go through this period together. *just kidding* On a serious note, I really ought to do more ‘lesson planning’ to engage her. She has grown out of her jigsaw puzzles and is less motivated to want to complete them. And I find that I constantly have to look for more activities through books or the internet just so that she could learn new stuff. If only I have more time….

Thankfully, there is the library and she won’t get tired of new stories. Recently, I read this book to her and at the end of it, I asked if she wanted to go to school, “Yes…”

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Not sure if she meant it. Anyway, I thought of posting some pictures of life in a French kindy as a friend has kindly sent them over to share about their life there.

Apparently, preschool education ( all the way to Secondary school) is free in France though you have to pay for the catered food in school. This year, the French government introduced 4 and a half school days per week as compared to the previous 4 school days. Generally, school starts at 8.30am (though you can put the child in school from 7.30am) and ends at 4.30pm though the children could stay in school until 7pm.

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Each morning, the children place their bags outside the classroom in their rightful position that are marked by their names. As they enter the classroom, they would greet the teacher and have free play while waiting for all the children arrive.

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The children would have storytime, playtime and other learning activities, such as…

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Are these activities that you do with your kids too?

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This board shows the names of those children who will be staying at the canteen for lunch.

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The menu is pasted on the wall so that parents will know what they have for lunch every day.

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Shhh… nap time and every child has a bed of his/her own.

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Women are really more enticed to work with such a school system (free and ample activities to engage the children) though I’m personally not fond of the idea of having the kid away from the parent(s) for such long hours daily. But that’s just me.

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_y7N4tJJL7n8OBCYXPW8CV3OMaxSGQB9pyf4gunSUZYX=w567-h524-noDuring mid-afternoon, the kids would be having their snacks and outdoor playtime until their parents fetch them. If the weather is not good, the children stay indoors and for after-school care activities (for those whose parents could only fetch them later than 4.30pm).

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There are definitely a lot of activities going on in a day for these kids in the kindy and I wonder if I could enrich Faith to such an extent. Possibly, if I could spend some time planning her curriculum which I hope to update on this space if I ever get around to doing that. Of course, I need to be realistic as to how much I can do since I…I… have to mind the other chores. #lifeasaSAHM

I hope I am writing this post with some coherence. #ilacksleep

Car washing day

Yesterday, we went down to support my nephew and his classmates who were involved in car washing organised by his school. I love it when young children learn to do these chores from young and I fully concur with the principal who advocates character building over academic excellence.

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By the time I reached the school compound, the kids had already started washing and we love parents who lend their support to their children!

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Under the guidance of the teachers and with much encouragement from their parents, I must say that the kindergarteners did a good job and more importantly, they had fun. This is really like waterplay for them!

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Our younger kids stood nearby and observed the busy activities…

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 Lester stood by the pail and watched….

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 Faith wondered what was happening…

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And then the mother got her to join in the act…

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The children had a wonderful time!

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I’m one happy woman because my dirty car got a tad cleaner!

Good job, children!

Gymnademics at the ARC

For a while now, I have thought of enrolling Faith in some gym/ enrichment classes. You see, being a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM), I have the privilege of interacting with Faith all most of the time. I read, play, do grocery shopping and take a walk with her, amongst the many other activities that we engage in. HOWEVER, there are times, oh, many times that I do not know what to do with her. Basically, I have run out of ideas! Fellow SAHMs, do you face the same issue?

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After browsing parenting blogs like those of Candice and  Adeline who share their experiences on Gymnademics, I emailed them about their trial class since I wanted to check out the environment for myself and see how Faith reacts to the class. But the sleep-deprived mom soon forgot about it until I received an email from the centre, inviting me to visit the outlet at Alexandra Retail Centre (ARC). It’s a timely reminder, so I thought, and made an appointment to go down.

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We were warmly greeted by the staff and Joseph, the GM, walked through the programme with the hubs and me. The studios were visually colourful and child-friendly. Faith warmed up to Joseph minutes into the sharing and then busied herself with the musical instruments. She was really engaged with them as the hubs guided her to explore the instruments. No need Mama already!

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After the brief introduction of the gym and what they do, I was all ready to enrol Faith in the class when I was asked if I would be interested to be their ambassador for a term. Why, yes, of course! This will be an awesome opportunity to learn more about Gymnademics, her vision and beliefs.

I am all eager for Faith to start and am thankful that the centre allows BOTH parents to be with the child during each lesson. So, that means all of us can learn together. I am also informed that the parents would be given some materials after each session so that they can reinforce what was learnt during the lesson at home. Let’s just see if this is true. 😉

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Faith is going to start the lesson in about two weeks’ time and she will be attending the lesson at the ARC’s outlet. Apart from the fact that it is quite a distance from our home, I guess the other factors are still good and enticing enough for us to attend the class there. They include:

1) It is within a sheltered walking distance from Labrador Park MRT (circle line)IMG_2824
2) There are many F&B outlets at ARC (so we will also be exploring the makan places here!)
3) NTUC (can do grocery shopping!)
4) Parking is free on weekends (yay for those who drive!)
5) We can explore the area like the Hort Park, Henderson Waves, Labrador Park, etc after the session ( means family outing!)

I will be sharing Faith’s progress at Gymnademics for sure. Do stay tune as there will be some give-aways in future posts.

To celebrate the new outlet at ARC, Gymnademics is offering some opening specials when you sign up for a class package by 30 Nov 13:

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Gymnademics @ ARC
460 Alexandra Road
Singapore 119963
Tel: +65 62717569
Email: info@gymnademics.com
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First training

Guess where I went today?
It has something to do with children.
Definitely related to what I was doing.
But then again, I have gone through this before.

Nope. It’s not a tour in the Boston Children’s Museum though the place I went was close by.

It’s Boston Partners in Education and I was there for my training as a volunteer to the elementary schools. It was a 2.5 hours training on literacy and Math and of course, those were stuff that I was and still am familiar with. It’s good to have a review and to hear those familiar terms again – zone of proximity, constuctivist model, wait time blah blah. I was excited to go back to school again but yet at the same time fearful because of the difference in cultures. Let’s just see how it goes.

When it came to Math, I sensed that the instructor wasn’t too happy about the new change to Investigative Math (whatever it is). He was just passing the remark that a lot of …ahem… educators out there were just waiting for this ‘new’ thing to pass. Sounds familiar? No? I thought it does =p

I’m real keen to see how’s the school scene is like out there in the public schools. Oh! They have chartered schools, innovation schools, pilot schools…so many types of schools. Interesting!