Week 8 – 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge

This post is week 8 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.


I have gained knowledge in teaching English to speakers of other languages. I read and applied Paul Nation’s work in Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing and Teaching ESL/EFL Speaking and Listening. I am working to apply the learnings in my tutoring and lesson preparation to focus on meaningful and attainable content, equally dividing instruction time between four areas:

  • meaning-focused input
  • meaning-focused output
  • language-focused learning
  • fluency practice


I had to learn so much technology last year. I have always been a leader in educational technology, but I, and all my colleagues, took leaps and bounds in our knowledge and application of technology resources to be able to continue teaching. I wrote a little more about technology skills learned here in Week 4.

In addition, I have grown in lots of other skills that have helped me stay grounded in all this at home time–poetry, sourdough bread baking, using spices, and blogging. I’ve even begun to crochet more.


I would like to think that my attitude softened, became more understanding and loving and patient with my students and the parents who have worked so hard during this long chapter. The corona virus has made us all fatigued. I hope and pray that I have become better and more empathetic. Of course, working part-time during the past year has probably made the most difference in my attitude!

Week 7 – 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge

This post is week 7 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.

I think participating in this #8WeeksofSummer blog challenge over the years shows me how quickly the weeks peel off the calendar. I can’t believe it is already Week 7! Thank you, Penny, for hosting us again this year.

My situation is evolving. I know I will need more professional development as I continue working literacy to English language learners. I don’t know what I will be doing exactly when I move back to the U.S. in January, but I will keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities.

Week 6 – 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge

This post is week 6 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.

I have to be planning for a school year like none other this year. The first semester, I will volunteer at the school where I’ve been for eight years. I will continue and expand the literacy screenings and tutoring I did last year. However, in January, inshallah, we will be moving from Bahrain to California.

When I saw the prompt I got nostalgic thinking of my time here and how it is coming to an end. I took time to do art–this Art Date with Ms. Kate was a grounding activity where we drew a tree in the style of Gustav Klimt’s Tree of Life.

Life’s Trees

I keep?

I will keep
my love and
prayers for
Al Raja School’s
children and my hope
for this School of Hope.
That they will grow into a
new chapter even richer and
fuller than all the ones that
came before. I will keep my friends
and family. I will keep my love for
lifelong learning and creating, along
with my zest for life. I will keep writing
and cooking and baking and being hospitable.
I will keep my faith in God and a commitment to


will I lose?

I will lose seeing my
friends daily, chatting on
WhatsApp like we aren’t in
a pandemic. I will lose the
Al Abraaj hamour dinner, sweet
mango juice and shawarmas on the
street. I will lose climbing to the
fifth floor and living in a diverse
culture which has become home.
I will lose our walks to the
souq. I’m afraid
I will
lose my
for a


will I try?
I will try to find
a new place. A place
where I can continue
to teach children English
and how to read and write.
I will try to make a home in
California after forty years of
living away. I will try to do my
part to fight injustice
and to dismantle
I will
to be.

Week 5 – 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge

This post is week 5 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators. The prompt today is “Describe what improved or challenged communication this year.”

I feel communication was challenged by pandemic living much more than it was improved. I live in a country where there are many languages spoken. Then to bring everyone together, either English or Arabic are used. Lots of different pronunciations and ability levels can make communication a challenge.

Communication is enhanced when we speak in person. When you can look someone in the face without a mask and speak to them, it really helps. When they (or I) see a blank look, they (or I) can try again, speaking more slowly or finding different vocabulary. When the pandemic started, we weren’t able to be together. Even when we do have face-to-face time to communicate, the masks are still there bringing barriers to communication.

But communication still happens with recorded voice messages or written text messages, mostly on WhatsApp.  And lots of emails.

However, there may be one area where communication was improved. Quick collaborative or clarifying meetings were so easy to have on Zoom. (I mentioned this in the collaboration reflection during Week 2 of the #8WeeksofSummer.) We have had many of these quick Zoom meetings over the last year.

Week 3 – 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge

This post is week 3 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators. This week’s prompt is to describe new or additional supports your learners needed this year.

Wow, this is difficult to answer. There were so many needs–

  1. Physical needs – I think especially of sicknesses due to Covid infections in staff, family and students, sometimes affecting large groups of family members at the same time. There were a few deaths of family members during the year from Covid-19, so that has certainly affected our community. Children and teens, too, sometimes had to miss classes due to Covid. Of course, when they were sick at home, they did not have to turn in their assignments on time or be expected to attend classes. One good thing is we did not have any Covid outbreaks at school. We did daily testing of staff members, and all the students who had permission to be tested. Strict protocols were maintained, and school was closed several times during the year “in an abundance of caution,” as the emails always read. (An aside: Especially in the last two months, children started getting Covid. We have a high vaccination rate among adults here, but our young people are spreading the highly contagious Delta variant. Therefore, the country has been on lockdown since June 1. The Delta variant is starting to spread in the U.S. Please keep getting vaccinated!)
  2. Social and emotional needs – It was evident that some students were struggling. One way we tried to help was the pro-active way the social counselors did their jobs this year. They were added to the schedule and taught regular classes for all the grade levels. They made a lot of phone calls, but, of course, some children did not get the support they needed because we didn’t know about their needs.
  3. Academic needs – One way we identified academic needs in the elementary was to do DIBELS screenings for all students in grades 1, 2, and 3. I was the volunteer reading interventionist this year, as I did not sign my contract last year, thinking we were going to be leaving in December. Instead we stayed one more year, and I was happy to help at my school. After identifying the students who needed extra support, we invited them to join the S.T.A.R. program (Speaking, Thinking And Reading). I would work for six sessions at a time on thinking, speaking and foundational skills they were missing on the DIBELS. It was very successful. After six sessions, I would retest students. If needed, they could continue my program. This was besides their regular English classes on their light class days. (Students had two full days and two partial virtual days. The last day of the week was a makeup day. We would meet on their partial days.)
  4. Technology needs – When we were sent home on 26 February 2020, some people did not have laptops. It did not take our school long to jump into action. They dismantled the desktop computers we still had been using at school for all the teachers. They offered these free to any family who needed one for pick up or delivery. They purchased laptops for the teachers. There were helplines available during school hours and after for families who needed help. Our computer teachers staffed the helplines. We got Google Classroom for KG-grade 12, and teachers were trained on it before the 2020-21 school year began. It was determined the laptops they purchased were not powerful enough (is that the word?) so this summer we had to return them, and they will all get an upgraded hard drive.

I’m not sure we know all the support students needed, but in these unprecedented times, I was proud of the effort of all of our departments and our senior leadership team.

What else am I forgetting? What would you write for #5 listing student needs?