Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Welcomed almost daily February 29, 2012

Filed under: international school,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:58 pm

I wish I could say that I think that we have always welcomed new employeees with the warmth and enthusiasm that I’ve received from ISD. I could, but I would not be being very truthful.

It’s not even March, we are moving in August and I already have a great ‘buddy’ at school who shares information about work and everyday living, an e-mail address at the new school which also allows me to receive staff information for this year and access their online materials, and there is a New Hire web-bulletin board with all kinds of information about classrooms, school, daily life, etc. They have a welcoming committee.

As I talked about with a friend this week,  we determined it’s certainly in the school’s best interest to be welcoming and helpful and my new school has certainly made us newbies feel like very welcome additions to their faculty. By providing information, it allows me time to process, digest, ask questions and continue to get excited. All before I am even being paid by them. What school wouldn’t want that?

Even though our school has always had an orientation in August (a one day affair usually focused on getting paperwork filled out), things like getting new employees ID badges, e-mail accounts, staff directories or keys to their classroom, much less curricular materials could be an agonizingly slow process. My first year there weren’t desks and chairs OR math textbooks until well into the third week of school. I know this is not particular to one school district. I’ve had friends in other districts tell me they cried on the way home everyday their first year because no one would really interact with them. That’s just crazy!

I’m not writing this as a critical piece, but more as a reflection on how perhaps we should be more intentional about the welcoming of new staff (not that we will probably have any for several years with the way the state education budget is). Teaching is a hard job and it’s especially hard your first year in a new district, new grade level, new building, etc. There are things like mentors and such built into most districts and now Resident Educator program is a requirement for all entering teachers as part of the licensing program. That is a good step in the right direction, but I’m talking about more than just the newbie’s mentor who has their own classroom as well. Why don’t we hand over the curriculum as soon as we hire the new teachers so they can spend the summer familiarizing themselves with it? Why haven’t we had a welcoming committee?

What are some things your school does to welcome new staff members?
What are some things you wish your school did to welcome or support new staff members?



Things I’m having fun thinking about part 1 February 26, 2012

Filed under: Dakar,Senegal,West Africa — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:30 am
Tags: ,

Guy and I are getting ready (it seems like nonstop) for the move to Dakar, Senegal in August. Before then, he and I (sans enfants-do you like  how I worked some French in? I haven’t had to speak or think anything French since I left Luxembourg December 1992!) are going to Dakar in March so that we can do things like:

  • See what the housing might look like
  • Determine what household items we need to pack-what does a furnished home come with? Are there overhead lights? Should we bring lamps? Candles? Batteries?
  • Figure out how you buy a car (and what kind of car would be best in an environment very different than Ohio. I can’t count  on Consumer Reports helping me out this time!)
  • What is the route from housing to school
  • What is the route from home to grocery
  • What items are or aren’t  regularly at the store (Are there any grocery store or Target type store items that I should be packing instead of thinking I can just pick up like we always do?) 
  • What kind of clothing and footwear are kids wearing to school


In addition to those kind of practical things, I also have things like this that I’m thinking about:

Do I really need to keep this ugly winter coat I’ve had for 15 years since there won’t be any “just in case” I have outdoor recess duty when it’s a negative wind chill? (My children refer to it as the marshmallow coat—Goodwill here I come!)

Will be there signs of seasons changing there that I’ll learn to look for like Ohio’s first crocus, hostas corkscrewing out of the earth, and silly little groups of tiny birds arguing over a worm? Or is it always so warm that things like vegetation or birds don’t change year round?)

What grocery items do I count on that I might not be able to recognize without a picture? (I’m thinking I should see if I can find a French grocery store online and look up some staples to see what they look like in their packaging).

What exactly does 1000 pounds of belongings look like. Is that a lot? Just a little?

Should I buy a French press coffee maker so that I don’t have to count on the electricity being on every morning?

 What am I going to do with my hair? (Without my awesome hair dresser)


I’m sure you have things you are wondering about or think I should be thinking about. Please feel free to put them in the comment section so I can try to figure it out before August.


Africa is REALLY big! February 25, 2012

Filed under: Africa — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:31 am


By the way, what is an International School? February 22, 2012

Hi Readers,

I’ve accepted a position as the head of Curriculum for the International School of Dakar. It’s located in Senegal, West Africa. The school is Preschool through grade 12, housed on one campus, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I’m including some general information about International Schools and specifically ISD.

International Schools are loosely defined as “schools that promotes international education, in an international environment, either by adopting an international curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate, or by following a national curriculum different from that of the country the school is located in” (specifically American in this case).

Here’s criteria used by many to ‘describe’ international schools:

  • Transferability of the student’s education across international schools.
  • Multinational and multilingual student body and teacher population
  • An international curriculum.( e.g. IB – DP, MYP, PYP)
  • International accreditation
  •  English as the language of instruction

These schools cater mainly to students who are not nationals of the host country, such as the children of the staff of international businesses, international organizations, foreign embassies, missions, or missionary programs.


Here’s information about the specific school from their website :  

The International School of Dakar

The International School of Dakar is a growing, vital, vibrant learning community which serves the needs of Dakar-based expatriates seeking a western-style education in English. Our graduates have gone on to top universities in both the US and Europe. ISD provides an excellent core educational program augmented with a diverse range of special subjects and extra-curricular activities. French, PE, Art and Music are a part of each elementary student’s schedule. AP classes and other enriching courses are offered for high school students.

ISD is not just about classwork, though, it provides opportunities to educate the whole child, and students at ISD will be involved in service learning, athletics competitions, clubs and other activities. ISD provides an impressive array of ways to get involved in the school and community.

A key word at ISD, ‘community.’ ISD is a community as much as a school; membership in the community provides many benefits. Nurturing, challenging, and enriching are just a few words that describe this special place


The International School of Dakar ISD) is an independent English-medium international school which offers, in a nurturing environment, a rigorous, US-based, PK-12 curriculum enriched to reflect the needs and diversity of its international student body and faculty. ISD inspires students to become lifelong learners and responsible global citizens in a rapidly-changing world.


The International School of Dakar (ISD) believes that offering the best possible education program, curriculum, and instruction based on the highest standards will provide students the opportunity to maximize their potential. ISD believes quality education is attainable when students are valued as individuals in a community, prepared to think globally, and challenged to act responsibly.



  • provide a well-rounded program of instruction using best educational practices appropriate to the diverse cultural, intellectual, and social needs of our international student body
  • provide a US-based, non-sectarian, college preparatory, PK-12 curriculum with English as the language of instruction
  • provide educational resources for a safe, challenging, tolerant, and supportive environment in which students are actively encouraged to participate
  • prepare students to be independent thinkers, skillful communicators, and lifelong learners
  • foster a sense of individual responsibility, self-discipline, self-reliance, and respect for self and others
  • promote a creative, active lifestyle
  • orient students to the world of technology and media, developing familiarity, competence, and awareness of the tools they will need as they continue their learning process beyond high school
  • encourage students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and board members to play an active role in promoting educational excellence at ISD
  • recruit highly-qualified and motivated faculty and staff and provide opportunities to foster their professional development
  • provide opportunities for families and friends of ISD to strengthen community bonds through a range of inclusive activities and programs
  • encourage acceptance and tolerance of the diversity of moral, traditional, and religious values




In case you don’t have spring break plans February 20, 2012

Filed under: TCRWP,Teachers College — bestbookihavenotread @ 2:59 pm
Tags: , ,

The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project

presents the

The 82nd Saturday Reunion

March 24, 2012
9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Join the entire TCRWP community as we open our doors to thousands of K-8 educators from around the world for more than 140 free workshops, keynotes and closings on state-of-the art methods in the teaching of reading, writing, performance assessments and the Common Core. The entire TCRWP staff will present on this day, including Lucy Calkins. Guest literacy leaders will present as well. Topics will include: argument writing, embedding historical fiction in nonfiction text sets, opinion writing for very young writers, managing workshop instruction, aligning instruction to the CCSS, using performance assessments and curriculum maps to ratchet up the level of teaching, state-of-the-art test prep, phonics, guided reading and more.

Major Speakers include:

Pam Muñoz Ryan, our opening keynote speaker, has written over thirty books for young people including the award-winning Esperanza Rising, as well as Riding Freedom, Paint the Wind, and The Dreamer. She is the recipient of the Civil and Human Rights Award from the NEA, of the Virginia Hamilton Award for Multicultural Literature, and of the Willa Cather Literacy Award for writing.

David Booth, an expert in children’s literature and drama, has keynoted TCRWP conferences and authored many of our favorite professional books including Reading Doesn’t Matter Anymore, The Literacy Principle, Guiding the Reading Process, and Even Hockey Players Read. He has been a literacy leader through his work as a classroom teacher, language arts consultant, keynote, speaker, and author, as well as a Scholar in Residence at the University of Toronto.

Sarah Weeks, our closing keynote speaker, is famous throughout the TCRWP community for her light-hearted speeches. She is the author of more than fifty picture books and novels including the bestselling novel, So B. It. Two of her most recent contributions are MAC AND CHEESE and PIE. Sarah is an adjunct faculty member at the New School and a founding member of ART, a traveling troupe of authors who perform readers’ theatre across the country.

Carl Anderson is the author of the acclaimed books: Assessing Writers and How’s it Going? A Practical Guide to Conferring with Student Writers. His latest project is a book series: Strategic Writing Conferences: Smart Conversations That Move Young Writers Forward.

Lucy Calkins is Founding Director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, as well as the Robinson Professor of Children’s Literature at Teachers College. She is the author or co-author of over a score of books, including the Units of Study books for K-2 and 3-5 writing and for 3-5 reading, The Art of Teaching Reading, The Art of Teaching Writing and the upcoming Pathways to the Common Core.

Kathy Collins, author of Growing Readers: Units of Study in the Primary Classroom, and Reading for Real, teaches large group and advanced sections of TCRWP institutes.

Colleen Cruz, a senior staff developer at the Project, is the author of Independent Writing, of Reaching Struggling Writers, K-5 and of the young adult novel, Border Crossing, as well as co-author of Writing Fiction: Big Dreams, Tall Ambitions.

Mary Ehrenworth is Deputy Director for Middle Schools at the Project. She is co-author of The Power of Grammar, of two books in the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grades 3-5, and of the upcoming Pathways to the Common Core.

Amanda Hartman, Lead Coach at the Project, is co-author of Authors as Mentors, of The Conferring Handbook and of One-to-One: The Art of Conferring with Young Writers.

Laurie Pessah, Senior Deputy Director of the Project, is co-author of Nonfiction Writing: Procedures and Reports and of A Principal’s Guide to Leadership in the Teaching of Writing.

Jennifer Serravallo, a senior staff developer at the Project, is author of Independent Reading Assessment: Fiction, Teaching Reading in Small Groups, and co-author of Conferring with Readers.

Kathleen Tolan, Senior Deputy Director of the Project, is co-author of Building a Reading Life, Following Characters into Meaning, and Navigating Nonfiction in the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grades 3-5.

The Morning Keynote will be held at Riverside Church at 9:00 a.m.
490 Riverside Drive (between 120th and 122nd Streets)
The ensuing workshops will be held at Teachers College, 525 W.120th Street, NY 10027
No registration required. For more information, visit our website at:


So excited about…. Professional Reading Groups February 18, 2012

Hey all you Nerdy Book Club Readers! I’m so excited!

The International School of Dakar (where I will be heading up curriculum next year) is planning and ordering for their Professional Reading Group titles for next year.  The groups are voluntary, meet monthly, and  teachers get to pick what interests them (the book is provided for them by the school). Last year they read Digital Natives by Mark Prensky and Sir Ken Robinson’s The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. I voted for Lucy Calkins’ newest title (due out in April) Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement. Everything I’ve ever read that has come from the Teachers Reading and Writing Project at Columbia has been so thoughtfully written and helpful. I’m also interested in reading Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. I really enjoyed the Heath Brothers’ Switch, and Nudge keeps getting suggested to me by Amazon.

What books are you reading with a Professional Reading Group this year that you would recommend? Wish you could read? 


If I was Martha Stewart…. February 15, 2012

Filed under: Dakar,overseas,Senegal,West Africa — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:02 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Well, there’s the fact that I would have spent time in jail, so that’s one reason I’m glad I am not. But I was thinking this morning while I was walking the dogs that prehaps I should take a small lesson from her. I’ve been exposed to enough Martha over the years to know that whether it’s a wedding, a holiday, or just a dinner party or housecleaning, that woman has a checklist for it. Not just any checklist, but a list that basically starts with the big event and works backwards. I’m thinking trying to create one of those might be very helpful to me as we prepare for August and Senegal.

Some things are obvious that I need to put on it such as immunizations, passports for kids, etc. but I am sure that there are many, MANY things that haven’t even crossed my mind to put on the list. I wish there was a book to buy that has a checklist for moving overseas, but I’ve yet to find one.


So I’ve Got Some News… February 11, 2012

Filed under: international school — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:39 am
Tags: , ,

I have accepted a new position for next year at the International School of Dakar.

That’s in Senegal.

In West Africa.

(as Director of Curriculum–You probably won’t even pay attention to that part-you’re still back on International School (not Granville) )

or Senegal (Where the heck is that?)

or Africa (Is this a joke? Did someone hack your account?)

Here’s the link to the school.

We are pretty darn excited!

We’ll be Jaguars (as well as Blue Aces) at the school.

It’s a PreSchool-grade 12 campus that allows the kids and I to all be on one campus. The “American style curriculum’ is ‘enriched to reflect the needs and diversity of its international student body and faculty’ and hopes to ‘inspire students to become lifelong learners and responsible global citizens in a rapidly-changing world.”

Oh, and it’s on four acres overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

My son’s biggest concern is whether they have basketball.

Once I got my daughter over the “CNN Effect” (If you go to Africa, you will be killed-either by disease, famine, wild animal, bomb, or machete), she has been on cloud nine. The learning that all of us have done this past month has been amazing.

There is a good video that the staff has put together.

I plan on sharing more as the rest of this year goes by as we get ready to go in August and will have new school stories to share in the next several years.

Stay Tuned.


International School job search continues February 4, 2012

Filed under: international school — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:24 am

Day 3 of Cambridge


Getting ready to leave the hotel for the first time since arrival. Thought I should see Harvard since I am in Cambridge. Those who know me know how I LOVE a college campus. Thrilling to me in a way that some people probably feel about roller coasters 🙂

I have written more personal handwritten notes in the past 36 hours than I have in the previous four years put together!

I have met some of the nicest people

      Donald, teaching in Costa Rica and looking for his next big adventure

      Julie so excited to have signed a contract to head to Qatar next year

     Lauralynn, hoping to return to international teaching after a couple years back in the state

Not to mention the cheerful, warm and encouraging senior Search Associates

Amazingly organized, especially considering that there are over 140 schools, more than 275 recruiters, and 500+ teachers/educators/administrators—keeping everything running like clock-work, keeping everybody happy can not be easy, yet they do it like it’s not difficult, all with a smile.

Yet completely:

exciting and fun

 and totally draining.

Whew, more later


Speed Dating Schools

subtitle: International School Job Fair experience Cambridge 2012 Part 1

I bet that title grabbed your attention! Speed dating? Speed dating schools? Is that some new thing that helps singles get dates? Wait, Kristine is married–why is she speed dating? Is she starting a speed dating school? Did your brain go through any of those questions?

So this post doesn’t really fall under the normal categories that I usually write about, but I think it’s a topic that could be of interest to educators, bloggers, or just people who are interested in something different.

Boy has this been different!

First I’m going to outline the interviewing process for international schools (from my limited experience). It is very different than the process I am familiar with in Ohio. International schools attend job fairs around the world and interview teachers and administrators for their openings. Most schools are represented by the Head of the School (think superintendent) and usually two principals. Those administrators are referred to as “recruiters”. The ‘recruitment’ cycle takes place from the beginning of January, is hot and heavy through February, and wraps up with a few in the spring.

During a job fair weekend, schools have the opportunity to meet and interview from a pre-screened pool of candidates for jobs. It allows them to interview candidates in person versus over Skype, when things get complicated by things like time zones, internet connections, etc.

Round one of the process is like speed dating (but on speed!). In a massive room, you have approximately 120 seconds to present yourself and your resume to the school and make the case for why they should grant you a lunch date-um–personal interview.

The lunch date/personal interview takes place in the school’s hotel room or suite. That sounds really creepy while writing it down, but it really makes sense when you are here and doesn’t come off as strange at all. It’s like the hotel room becomes their office for the weekend.

If you and the school hit it off on the lunch date, you might then move on to another date, but with an additional person on the date. On some occasions, the lunch date was such a success, marriage (or a job) might be proposed! I’ve been told that there have been instances of schools giving candidates 24 hours to make their decision so that the school still has the opportunity to interview other candidates if the first marriage proposal isn’t accepted.

I could have probably gone with a whole The Bachelor white rose thing, but speed dating seems like a better fit. That would have fit too.

So I’ve done a bunch of speed dating and had many great lunch dates with schools I was extremely impressed by. The mutual hunt continues tomorrow.

I wish I could “same time, same channel” like Batman would have, but I’m not that dedicated with my timing of the blog. So instead, “tune in next time”.