Discovering the Milkyway and the Deep

This weekend we discovered that, if we walk to the side of the house and look up, we can see the milky way from our front yard. So that’s pretty neat. Hopefully I will be able to trick my camera into taking a photo of it.

On Saturday we played bingo at Tautua’s house. There are no restaurants, bars, clubs, bowling alleys or anything like that on Ta’u, and so, naturally, everybody loves bingo. Once a month, Tautua and his family host bingo at their house; I heard a rumor that the always have the best prizes so we went. It was actually pretty fun. Everyone sits around the fale in front of the house with these big wooden or cardboard slats in their laps. You have to bring glue to glue your bingo card to the board since it’s so windy. Tautua’s son Jedi (Jed-ee not Jed-i) was the first caller and (for us, the palagi in attendance) he called in both Samoan and English, but after that it was all in Samoan. It turned in to a real test of how well we know our Samoan numbers.

This weekend I also discovered that I am pretty terrified of deep water, which was awkward and somewhat embarrassing. (When I say “deep” I mean just like 30-60ft. I thought it was 30 but a local said 60. Who knows?) After bingo we went swimming in the wharf and I thought, even though I know I get a little weird if I can’t touch ground, that I’d just swim around to the other side. I was fine until I looked down and realized how far I was from the ocean floor. I had the same panicky sensation I have when I’m on a high cliff or balcony. So I got out of the water for a little while to stop being a scaredy cat. Mitch and I walked over to this awesome little stretch of sandy beach for a little while and I found a whole lot of sea glass and calmed down. Doug (another palagi teacher here who is not with WorldTeach) brought a spear over so I got into the shallow water to try that out. Spearfishing is so much fun but it’s pretty much impossible in the daytime (at least for the unexperienced). Wes is going to buy a spear soon and then we can go at night with Lionel. Lionel took Wes out the other day so Wes could just observe. They brought back a ton of fish and some lobsters. Wes cleaned the fish and made oka and then ate some fresh lobster Sunday after church.

My students have been impossible lately so I’m trying to change up my teaching style a little bit. I feel like somethings work really well in some subject, but later I’ll try a similar tactic and completely lose their attention. It gets frustrating. They just won’t stop talking to each other. Constantly. All day. So I’m spending a lot more time trying to come up with hands-on activities that get them out of their desks and/or out of the classroom. Also, last week I crammed a ton of stuff into my lessons and of course everything took way longer than I thought. So this week I’m breaking things up a bit more and trying a lot more kinesthetic activities. My classroom is set up now and I have all my bulletin boards up. I love how excited they get when I make a change in the classroom. They always tell me how pretty everything is, haha. Today one of my students thanked me for teaching her about something. How cute is that?

Well I am exhausted and need to walk home… Here are some photos! Some of these are from my first day on this island (including the plane ride over); I can’t figure out how to re-order the pictures and there may be duplicates from another post but here they are anyway. Enjoy!

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About Cat Q.

For three years, I lived on a tiny little island in the South Pacific called Ta'u, where I taught elementary and high school English. Much of this blog is a chronicle of my time there, and of the travels we were able to do while we were on that side of the world. Now, I'm doing a different kind of travelling in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with my husband and two children.
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2 Responses to Discovering the Milkyway and the Deep

  1. Cat – I’m Chad Floyd’s mother and a fellow English teacher. I very much admire you for taking on this assignment with such joy, and love, and … well … *passion.* I’ve been “following” you. It is now time to stop lurking and speak up. :)

    The constant talking is an issue for me too. I found myself saying “Stop Talking” so many times that I’m pretty sure it has become a well-known “Bannister quote” around the school. This year’s kids are a lot better. I received some excellent tips from Craig Seganti, who wrote the book Classroom Discipline 101. Here’s his website:

    The book is something like $38 dollars (I didn’t buy it), but the tips I got from him were free. He sends five email lessons over the course of five days. Scroll down about 1/3 of the page to the “TIME OUT” box to subscribe to these. If you want them, but don’t get email – let me know.

    It sounds like you have the right attitude. You reflect on what went well and what needs to change. You are tuned in to your students. One of the lessons Seganti sends is about having a lesson planned that keeps them focused and engaged from bell to bell. You’re on the right path with the kinesthetic activities! BUT, they need to learn that there will still be times when talking with each other is inappropriate, and that they are to respect those times (and you when you’re talking).

    I learned (the hard way) to be extra firm in the beginning because it’s so much easier to “lighten up” later than it is to “lighten up” later. I also learned that I can be loving, fun, and approachable
    (all the words you want students to use to describe you) AND firm at the same time. I learned that it was more important to love them and want them to succeed than it was that they like me. When getting them to “like me” quit being one of my aims (though I might have denied it at the time), they actually liked me more! Go figure.

    I’ll shut up now. I tend to ramble (ask Chad) –

    You are in my prayers.

    Mary Jane Bannister

  2. Jonathan Renz says:

    Hey Cat,

    I’ve been super busy with work so I’m catching up on your blogs. I SUPER love how you explained Tautua’s son is not pronounced Jed-i, ha ha, really made me laugh because that’s exactly what I was thinking and got excited about until I read the very next thing that made me feel like that silly little boy that every other guy did. I really feel ya on the clif and high balcony thing! I SO hate heights! Last week I had a job in Atlanta installing speakers to a new club/restaurant and we had to work on very hight ladders (ladders shake and move, Jonathan no likey!) and if that wasn’t bad enough to be dealing with heavy, expensive equipment on a freakin rickety ladder,…I then was transported in a lift to the ledge that is the ceiling/roof of the entrance before you actually get in the real room (like steak n shake) and was handed a 12ft ladder to be on while on this ledge already like 15 or 20 feet up! THEN deal with a heavy expensive speaker! I was freakin out inside but of course I had to play it cool. I just played a game in my head of (“okay, what if me and my family or friends were on vacation and something bad happened and only I was capable of going for help and the path was a dangerous and scary one?”, I’d still have to go and I would,) so that’s the game I had to play to do my job last week =)

    With water it IS weird when you can’t touch bottom, but I’m more concerned with the fact that you can’t SEE danger coming because you can’t tell WHAT’S down there; land and air you see it coming.

    Anyway, miss you and love you guys!!!

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