Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A conversation...

Yesterday, I had a conversation via FaceTime with my Grandmother, for over an hour, completely in Estonian. This was a first and boy did it feel amazing! 

Throughout my journey learning this seemly impossible language, I have always struggled with the speaking part. Ask me to translate a simple Estonian text into English, Ok. Write an email in Estonian making a reservation for dinner? Fine. But when it comes to having a spontaneous conversation, I clam up like a timid mouse, afraid of the unknown. 

Yesterday, I felt like I am finally tackling this beast.  I was having a back and forth conversation about a range of topics. I understood and could be understood. Yes, my grammar was terrible, but who cares? 

The best part of the whole experience was seeing my Grandmother's immense pride and surprise during the conversation. It was like I could feel it through the computer screen.  She was proud of me. She was so patient with me; waiting while I found a word I wanted to use, speaking slowly and clearly if she could see I was getting lost. 

If I am being honest, I am learning this language mostly for my own self- satisfaction.  I don't need it for my job, or visa and I could get around day to day with English just fine. I want to prove to myself that I can do it! However upon reflection, I realise I am also doing this for her. To see that sparkle in her eyes when we converse in her native tongue.

My Vanaema and I when I was last back home in August. 

It took me a while to get back to writing after the March Challenge. I think it overwhelmed me a bit. However,  I do think writing is a good opportunity to consolidate my thoughts, dreams and goals. Plus, I encourage my students to write, so why shouldn't I? 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Successes in the classroom

I started the week tired and sick but what an amazing week it has been in the grade 3 classroom. When you see the kids every day, it is often hard to notice the 'slow and steady' progress. But once in a while you have a 'wow' moment that makes you so proud of these little humans. Here are the stories just two successful students, to end this month long challenge on a high note. 

R is finally learning how to control his emotions and making noticeable progress, no actually, more like leaps! He joined our school this year with very limited English and some pretty serious behavioural/emotional problems. It has been an uphill battle with many bumps along the way as we try to keep his moods levelled so he can successfully integrate into our school. When I recently overheard him having an in-depth conversation with our IT teacher suggesting new projects for the robotics club, I found my self thinking...  When did this happen? Where did he learn this vocabulary? When did he become this competent at expressing his ideas in English? It was incredible. 
Twice this week, there have been incidents which would have previously ended in a messy tantrum. However, on both occasions, R came to me, calmly verbalised what was bothering him and calmed down to continue with his day. 

Another success story is G. She is a feisty, dramatic girl who exclaimed to me at the start of the year that while she loves listening to people read, she simple 'hates' to read herself. Little by little, with some extra reading homework and support along the way, she started to read independently and her attitude began to change. Again, I can't pinpoint exactly when 'it' happened but now she is reading simple novels, has moved up 2 reading levels and is enthusiastic about reading! She beams with pride every time I remind her how much progress she has made. 

Thank you everyone for your support this month, my first time doing the SOLC. I found it incredibly difficult to keep on top of the writing and commenting, I even went MIA for a bit.  However, I found this experience very worthwhile and would like to try doing it again (with my students too!) next year.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


This morning on the bus, I was looking out the bus window, admiring the beautiful Old Town of Tallinn. I observed the sun blanketing the medieval roofs, the majestic stillness of  the bastion towers in the early morning light.  I found myself wondering, is it possible to be in love with a county? I love the culture. I love the language. I love the relaxed pace of life. I love the nature, the cities, the countryside, the people. 

I feel so at home here, even though I am thousands of kilometres away from my place of birth and family. Of course, I miss my family back in Australia terribly. However, I feel this deep sense of connection to Estonia. Is this because it is the motherland of my Grandparents? Is it because life here is simpler and slower than what I was used to? Is it because I can't imagine myself going back to teaching in the government system? Is it because I now have the freedom to explore new counties easily on a regular basis?

I'm caught in a constant tug-of-war between missing Australia and loving my life here. I know my family would love to have me home, but what if my heart remains here in Estonia?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Wake up.
Practise Estonian flashcards.
Reading/writing blogs on the bus.
Eat, coffee.
Planning lessons.
Lunch duty.
More Lessons.
Handbell practise.
Estonian homework.
Cook dinner. 
Folk dancing practise with husband.
Wake up.
Reading/writing blogs on the bus.
Eat, coffee.
Planning lessons.
More lessons.
Meeting, more coffee. 
Planning/ preparing/ marking.
Estonian lesson. 
Dinner out with friends visiting. 
Practise Estonian flashcards.

And so on and so on, until the weekend comes and I can breathe. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A letter to my skin.

Dear Skin, 
Another pimple? Come on! It's not even that time of the month! I only just got over the last one you handed me. Remember? That monstrosity of a chin Mount Everest that arrived just before a conference full of important people? Now it seems you have blessed me with some kind of horn, smack bang between my eyes. While unicorns are pretty, It's not my preferred look!  
I mean, I know you were relatively kind to me in my younger years but why spit the dummy now? I thought pimples were supposed to be teenage thing, not a late 20's thing! 
I don't know what you're so pissed off about but I hear you, loud and clear! As can everyone within a 3 metre radius. 
Anyway...please... can we be friends again? Let's talk.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The sun is back

An old lady sitting opposite me on the bus closes her eyes and points her face towards the sunlight shining through the bus window. 
Basking like a lizard in the glorious light that we have been deprived of for several long months. 
On her face is a small smile. 
Winter is finally thawing she may be thinking. 
Perhaps all of us on this full bus are thinking the same. 
Things have started to come alive, an awakening from the cold, dark winter. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Board games

You can gauge a lot about a person from how they play board games. Similarly, if you know a person well, you can also predict how they will play. Last night, we played apples to apples, a game where it is very important to know your audience.  I have a kids version in my classroom at school, a fun game to build cooperation and vocabulary. 

When I am the judge, I usually pick the weirdest or most disgusting combination, as I find these to be the most funny. In the above case, it would be a tough choice between 'juicy- pigeons' and 'juicy- having an operation'. My friend, however, always goes for the most literal card, 'juicy- oranges'. I also like hearing the judge's reason for their choice, as it is often accompanied with some sort of back story.

About 80% of the time, I inadvertently pick my husband's card, as he knows my strange, twisted thought processes better than anyone else in the room. In contrast, when we play 'codewords' on the same team, we almost always lose...  interesting. 

Which one would you pick?