Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Survival Tips For Your First Ramadan

So you are about to experience your first Ramadan.  You may have heard lots of stories and are starting to feel a little anxious and worried. While your routine may change during these thirty days, I have some tips to make the experience a smooth and hopefully memorable one.

1. Cover Up

Throughout the year this is important but it is especially important during Ramadan. When in public you  should take care to cover up. This is not the time to show off your cute new tank top. In general it's best to cover from your wrists to your ankles.  During Ramadan people are more likely to be offended by your dress and won't hesitate to make a complaint. So be more conservative than usual.

2. Keep the Peace

Ramadan is meant to be a time of quiet reflection. Be mindful of your noise levels whether at home or in your car. My neighbors love to have conversations in the hallways (the tiled and echoing hallways) so I plan to  make a note to gently remind them that my husband is in observance of the holiday. Also know that loud music or even TV can be cause for the police to intervene.

6. Keep It Under Wraps

Yes all the rumors are true. Virtually the whole country does not eat from sunrise to sunset so you will not be either. Well, not in public. Think of it this way: the whole country is on a diet and you want to have a big ol' piece of chocolate cake with hot fudge and vanilla ice cream. Would you eat it in front of everybody or would you feel self conscious and eat it when no one is looking? It's the same during Ramadan. They are not eating and they don't want to see you eating either.

Start carrying your water bottle in a bag. Have kids? Keep their snacks there too. It is against the law to be seen eating or drinking in public during Ramadan. Even if you are in your car. As gross as it sounds, if you really need a drink or snack and you are in public, it's best to find a restroom stall to lock yourself in. Or wait until you get home. This includes your children.

4. Plan Ahead

During Ramadan many shops will close or change their hours. The malls will be open but most stores will not. Your favorite delivery places will not be answering their phones and it will feel like the town's on lock down and you're a prisoner. Most people will spend the day sleeping. After sunset and Iftar the town will come to life and most businesses will have late evening hours.  Life will return to normal - in the evenings at least.

For these reasons it's best to plan your meals and food shop before Ramadan starts. Once Ramadan begins (this year it will be on Thursday) you might want to wait to do your shopping until just before Iftar (around 4 pm - 6 pm).  There will most likely be no crowds because they will all be preparing their meal for the night.  Be careful not to go too close to Iftar because traffic will be a nightmare and most accidents happen at this time.  While you can still count on having a nice restaurant dinner in the evening, if you don't like crowds it's best to avoid dining after Iftar.  Also remember just because the restaurant is open, they will not be serving food until the proper time (Iftar and sunrise) so be prepared to be seated and then wait.

5. Join In

There is something quite special about being a non-Muslim in a Muslim country during this holy month. Seeing an entire country coming together for prayer and practice is motivational. Even if you are not religious, it can be a powerful experience. So join in! Grab a friend and go to one of the many Iftar buffets. Then just sit back and observe. Try not to be first in line at the buffet. Remember you are competing with people who haven't had food or water all day!

Ramadan only happens once in a year.  Yes, it can be an inconvenience but with the right attitude and some pre-planning it can be a memorable and enjoyable experience for you.  Looking for some more information?  Check out this great article here that talks all about the history and meaning of Ramadan.  Also look at this for more tips and laws during Ramadan.

Note:  Picture sources are from my personal photos of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi - definitely a must-see place to tour!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tips to a Kindergarten Teacher From a Kindergarten Teacher

Mary from Sharing Kindergarten is hosting a great linky to get your ideas flowing and ready for back to school.  Even if you just finished and are enjoying the summer, or, like me, are still in school (waa-waa) you might be able to find a new tip or two from veteran and new teachers.

I am just finishing my first year in kindergarten (which is actually pre-k) but I have 7 years of first grade under my belt.  Kinder is a unique grade to teach but I did manage to learn a few things and gather some tips for you.

1.  Celebrate the small moments like they are BIG moments.

This year in your class might be the first time they have ever been in a structured school environment.  So they need lots of positive reinforcement.  Yes, Common Core is breathing down your neck and you. must. get. these. kids. reading.  But take a moment each day and celebrate those tiny successes.

Did they find their name for the first time?  Give them a certificate for reading their name.  Did they write their name independently (or attempted to and it looks like it could be a name).  Give them their own glittery pencil.  Did they comfort a crying friend who was told they couldn't play? Reward them with a smelly (a flavored lip balm rolled onto the back of their hand).

Reward the small stepping stones and they will reach for the stars for you.

2.  Show them your love of books.

There are many amazing read alouds out there in the world.  Show your students how much you love books by reading to them.  Make time each day to read a favorite book.

Laugh at the funny parts.  Cry when it's sad.  Read the great parts again and again.  Make silly voices for the characters.  Make sound effects.

Make it fun.

SHOW those kiddos how enjoyable sharing a book can be.  They will remember these moments and learn to love their own favorites (which in kindergarten happen to be all of your favorites).

3. Academics comes second.

Gasp!!!  What???  It's true.

Academics comes second.  First should be caring for the needs of your students.  This usually means meeting their emotional and social needs first.  In my experience, if students are not comfortable and happy they will not be learning anyway.  No matter how many hours you spent prepping that lesson and cute-sifying those anchor charts.

So reward those small moments and milestones. Hug them often.  Love them.  Laugh with them. The academics will come soon enough.

4.  Model it.  Model it.  Then model it again.

Oh this one is so true.  You will model procedures and center activities until you are dreaming of them in your sleep.  Then a little kiddo will totally do something out of order and you will wonder why do I bother...

Relax.  This is all part of teaching kindergarten. You will get used to it.  Maybe.

I hope you found some great advice.  Make sure to check out the other blogs for some more helpful tips.
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Currently June

It's a new month.  Which means it's time to link up with Farley for Currently.


Everyday I unwind by firing up my Roku and watching some shows while I work.  I'm so happy I got the Roku on my last trip home.  Now I have no excuse to not be working on the computer and watching my shows at the same time.  


How productive I have been lately.  It's still a far cry from all the things I need to knock off my to do list but I'm in a good groove right now.


Just like every single Currently I am thinking about that gosh darn to do list. I love lists but crossing things off seems to be a problem.  We only had 6 students come to class today and admin moved their last day up to this Thursday because of low attendance throughout the school.  This means no lesson plans for next week and energy to accomplish that list when I'm home from work.  :)


I really, really, really (did I mention really?) want to go to the TPT conference this summer.  I had to miss out on last summer but I went the year before last (I Teach K - the TPT conference was just an idea....but I did meet Paul and Amy in a small blogger meet up).  Anyway, I need new inspiration and would love to catch up with my online friends and meet new ones.  My work contract goes until July 9th (did I mention I'm about a 20 hour flight away from Vegas) so it's complicated to try to get there on time.


A new computer oh so bad.  I was supposed to treat myself at Christmas but it didn't happen.  Now that I spend more time on my laptop I really need a bigger screen to stare at.  Any recommendations?

Summer Lovin'

So far my summer plans include traveling home to the states to see my family and have them get to know my daughter.  She's turning one this August!  That was a fast year!  I would also like to plan a quick stop over mini-vacay in another place before returning to the UAE but it might not work out. It's so hard only seeing my family twice a year I feel super guilty when I cut my time short with them to do something else.  If anyone has any travel tips for traveling internationally, alone, with an eleven-month old please let me know!

I can't wait to read what everyone else is currently up to.  Head on over to Farley's blog to check them out too.  She's also collecting donations to the animals in Wimberly.  Even a dollar can go a long way to help.

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