Day 5 – Slice of Life – Time for Creativity

I am becoming sedentary. I can’t help it. I sit at this table for what our school is calling the Virtual Learning Initiative. The virtual learning is coming along, and still I sit. How can I walk and answer emails at the same time? Hmm…that reminds me! Maybe an aerobic exerciser hooked to my table will be my next household chore invention.

That was on Tuesday–the day for my second lesson; it was definitely better than the first. I’ve had lots of fun responses to our Flipgrid topic of making a household chore invention. The time it took children to complete this lesson was more realistic and has been leading to success for all.

This morning, I continued answering all my emails at least every 15 minutes. Often it takes me 15 minutes to give detailed feedback, activate the Flipgrids, and answer questions.  Then when I check back more have come in, so I have been working constantly for a few hours this morning.

Then I got distracted when I laid eyes on my #100DaysofNotebooking notebook. Oh, I forgot to post yesterday, I said to myself. I picked up my notebook. It was still yesterday in the U.S., so I posted a lesson idea I worked on yesterday. Then I thought about today’s entry, and I got a bit lost in creativity.

I keep a box of word cutouts on my table, inspired by fellow Slicer and #100DaysofNotebooking notebooker, Donnetta Norris. My box called out to me this morning, so I made up a quick challenge. Choose five random words and use them in a story.

My Five Random Words Challenge in notebook with my word box

OK, I thought. I can do this. Forty-five minutes later I came up for a breather, and (oops) to check my email again.

We all need that once in a while, even when we miss the 15-minute email challenge.

Here is the result of my Five Random Words Challenge (leading, develop, lives, animals, slam-dunk)…

“Try again,” said Dad. “You’re close. You can do it!”

The son tried one more time. His pencil arms, delicate and coursing with bad blood, swung like a pendulum and let go of the ball. The thud against the metal rim before it hit the earth was music to the ears of the father and son.

“You did it!” Dad jumped up and down, lifting the boy onto his shoulders, leading the two-person parade, celebrating the success of his little boy. It was the first time he had managed to get the regulation-sized ball all the way up to the rim.

Bad blood. There was no ill will or anger in the boy’s blood or relationships. Rather it was leukemia. Recently-diagnosed, the cancer had not deterred the boy from trying to develop his hoop skills. 

He is only five years old. Why do the gods toy with the lives of children? Animals! Dad would weep into his pillow, making demands during his nighttime wrestling.

But when morning came, he willed himself to be a new man, celebrating the successes of his boy. 

“You hit the rim! I’ll call you Rick Barry Boy now! You’ll be the next underhanded free thrower. Next time you’ll sink the shot, I’m sure. After that, who knows? Maybe a slam-dunk contest! For now, let’s go home and rest.”

Day 4 Slice of Life – Navigating Two Languages in a Meeting

Today I sat again, at the same desk-table I hardly ever leave these days. This time in a Zoom meeting with teachers to discuss how to assess young children who are home learning with their parents. Coordinators took turns asking questions of the administration from their department. The principal would answer English questions in English. Then an Arabic speaker would translate the Q&A for the Arabic-speaking teachers. Then vice versa–a question and answer in Arabic would have to be translated into English.

My husband came in from his duties for a break. He was sitting at the table eating a snack. He shared a few of the delicious dates he had stuffed with labneh and roasted almonds. Then before I knew it he was off.

Later in the day, he saved me from my sitting-at-the-dining-table-for-online-learning hell and invited me to the hospital cafeteria for tea. He commented about the back-and-forths of my meeting this morning, and asked, “Are your meetings always like that?”

No, my meeting are usually face-to-face, but the language do-si-doing, yes. That happens all the time. To be sure, lots of things get lost in translation, but we always recover.

Someday I’m going to miss these days.

Zoom Meeting in Two Languages


Here’s the card we made our dear vice principal.

Day 3 Slice of Life – Language Poser

Tomorrow is our vice principal’s birthday. We had collected money for cake and flowers, but then we were told to take our books and learning and go to our homes to do school from there. (Thanks to the Coronavirus.) So, tomorrow during our Zoom meeting with all the KG to grade 5 teachers, there will be no cake, no hugs, no gifts.

Because of that, today I got an idea. I remembered, an online sticky note canvas. I thought we could bring a big virtual birthday card that we all signed to our online meeting.

She was in a lot of our What’s App groups, so I had to send individual messages. I asked a friend to translate my message into Arabic, and she did.

I sent it out to all the Arabic-speaking teacher numbers I had in my Contacts. I started getting responses and people were filling out sticky notes, so I knew it was working and the instructions were sound.

I was feeling a bit smug and powerful, though I’m 98.5% a language poser. “Yes, I can communicate in English or Arabic–whatever is needed,” I pretended.

I can actually answer back with a few sometimes misspelled responses, like thank you (شكراً) and you’re welcome (عفوا). I have an Arabic keyboard on my phone.

Google Translate is a great tool. I can translate Arabic into English easily, and get the gist of what someone is writing to me. When I try to write back, I’m not able to choose between the misspelled words and the real words that are auto-generated. (If you haven’t figured it out, I really can’t write Arabic, or even speak it.)

But tonight I was on a roll. In fact, my teacher friends could have much more easily communicated in English for our purposes, but I persisted carrying on a very small and simple conversation in Arabic. Until I got this response after one of my Arabic answers: 😬 the grimacing emoji.

“Oops! What did I say?” I wrote.  That is not the first time I’ve had to write that phrase in a text conversation.

I should learn how to write it in Arabic and add it to my tiny repertoire!

Day 2 Slice of My Life Dwindling Away at this Dining Table

OK, when they said we would have school cancelled for two weeks, I thought, “we can do this.” It will be boring, but it will be a time to catch up.

Instead, my first online lesson was so complicated, creative, fun, etc.–I thought at the time–that it was almost impossibly difficult for some of my students to navigate. Students had two days to complete.

All morning, we are to stand by for emails and answer within 15 minutes. OK. I can do this. I set my timer for 15 minutes and each time it would ring in my ears, I would check my emails, religiously from 8 am to noon. I had a few emails, and it was easy to keep up with them. I’ve done that for two mornings.

After 2:00 p.m. I am free to not answer the emails until morning, like a regular working day. However, it’s not my style. Plus, the working parents needed answers this evening, not during my office hours this morning. So, read and answer emails, download videos and photos, read worksheets, add marks to the assignments coming in, give verbal and written feedback on Google Docs, Instagram, email and anything else? (I forget). I never moved from my chair for at least five hours. I don’t even remember the time I first sat down this evening. It may have been before 4:oo p.m.

Now, I’m going to bed, vowing never to make such a complicated online lesson again as long as I live. Yes, it was all my fault. I know. I’m the one that made the assignment.

My hind end is sore, my legs are asleep, I’m hungry, but I won’t take time to eat any more today. I may not even brush my teeth. (No, not really.) Good night, all.

Day 1 Slice of Life – Here I Sit

It’s March again. Maybe I should do the Slice of Life. I just saw this tweet by Tracy Vogelgesang and it inspired me.

That, and the fact that I need more creative outlets these days.

Here was my day, sitting at this desk/dining table.

A week ago today one of my girls came late to the library. I asked her why she wasn’t with the class. She said, “My mom told me to stop and wash my hands every time I pass a restroom.” That was my first warning that COVID-19 was coming to Bahrain. That same day, we began noticing the reports. There were no registered cases of the coronavirus in the Kingdom but 74 had been tested. All those who have traveled to such-and-such countries should come in or call to be tested. A home for the elderly near the airport was evacuated and patients placed in private hospitals. This was to create a quarantine facility for possible cases.

By the next day, a bus driver dropped kids off at three schools before discovering that he had contracted the disease himself. Those three schools were closed. That night people bought all the hand sanitizer and face masks in Bahrain.

The next day students brought the hand sanitizer and wore the face masks to school. Not exactly everyone, but it was now part of the landscape of our school, and all the other schools here. By the evening, all schools had been closed for two weeks.

In one week we went from 0 cases to 6… 8… 17… 23… 26… 33… 36… 38… 41… 47, with no deaths.  God bless Bahrain’s skilled commitment to containing this disease.

We are now doing school virtually. Thus my dining table desk and my need to do Slice of Life.