2020: Looking at the 2020-2021 School Year through a Different Lens

One of the many reasons that I went into teaching is that there is never a dull moment.  No two days are alike and even when you have spent several hours planning great lessons or activities, most of the time, they never go as planned. Many people get stressed out, anxious, or even mad when things do not go as expected, but over the years, I have started looking at these misfortunes rather as fortunes and making the best of each one.


Little did I know that when I boarded the flight for Atlanta back on February 4 that I would still be in the USA almost seven months later.  I truly thought I would be home for a couple of weeks, maybe a month, and then I would be on a return flight to China to finish out the 2019-2020 school year. After being gone for over eight months in 2019, I couldn’t wait to get back to some normalcy and continue living my best life, working with some amazing colleagues that I consider friends as well as making a positive difference in the lives of so many fantastic young adults.  Well, Covid-19 definitely changed the course of 2020 for practically everyone on the planet.  I have heard from many people that this has been the “worst year ever”.  I do not disagree that 2020 hasn’t been the greatest of years for many of us, but it definitely doesn’t compete with 2019 for me personally.  Although 2020 has had its share of uncertainty, loss, worry, fear, and challenges, life is all about perspective and there has been some shimmer of hope and silver linings to all of the craziness.  This is how I choose to go forward into the upcoming school year.  Whatever challenges are thrown my way, I am ready to learn from them and do the best that I can do.  That is all any of us can do on a daily basis.


As I still wait for my documentation and travel arrangements for my return to China, I know it will be a challenging start to the school year; one in which many of us have never experienced before.  I am blessed to have a safe space to work where I can provide lessons for my students.  The time difference will be a challenge as I know I won’t be at my best as the night turns into morning hours, but I feel the more organized and planned that I am, the better I can be for both my students and colleagues.  Communication with my students, student support services department, and other teachers that I work with, will need to be a top priority on a daily basis.  Being able to check-in first-hand with the teachers that will be able to work with my students in person will help me be able to deliver better instruction or provide support for my colleagues.


As I am taking on a new role this year, it brings with it both excitement and a little anxiety.  I want to be an amazing teacher, advocate, and avenue of support for my students, but not knowing most of them and starting off the year half-way across the globe isn’t the easiest way to begin building strong relationships.  Having experienced online learning last year, I began experiencing a downward spiral of connection with many students.  This made me sad as I love them all so much and want to be there for people however I can.  It was a learning opportunity for many of us and I know now that using some of the strategies provided by ISB consultants, colleagues, and my previous experience, I know that one of my main goals is keeping that relationship as strong as I can until I return to Beijing where I can make it even better.


Ideally, I want all my students to be as engaged as possible, turn in all their work on time, contribute on a daily basis, and ask for help as needed.  I know many EAL students are discouraged from being in the EAL class, to begin with, and have various levels of emotions when asked to practice the four domains of language depending on their level of English.  I really want to work on Captivate so I can improve my skills in being able to spark and maintain student engagement.  The 5Cs all work together, and I hope that by using my strengths in the other Cs, I will be able to improve upon the C of Captivate. I look forward to my collaboration with my Instructional Partner aka Partner in Crime Deb and vertically within the EAL department at ISB.  Working together and sharing best practices with each other will be a benefit for our EAL students as a whole.


I look forward to the learning opportunities that will be available on pretty much a daily basis as we navigate through the upcoming months together as a family.



Here’s to a brighter 2020….I may just have to wear shades.

2019 has totally been a blur to me.  So much has happened both internally and externally around me that it hard for me to believe that the year is coming to an end and another school year is almost half over. Arriving a little over two months after the school year began has had both its pluses and minuses.  Knowing some of my students already and the excitement of seeing them made coming back to Beijing and ISB much easier.  If it wasn’t for the support and love of those around me, I do not know where I would be at this moment.  My colleagues made the transition of returning as easy as they could for me.   Having many procedures in place and the beginning of school tasks completed definitely helped ease the stress of returning to a school in the middle of the year.  I have really been soaking things in and adjusting slowly to the demands of the school day and doing the best I can under the circumstances of the challenges thrown my way over the past 10 months.  Needless to say, I am excited about what 2020 has in store.  I do not expect perfection, but I have a good feeling that it is going to be a much better year in many ways.  I look forward to starting off the new semester with better procedures in place for my Guided Study classes.  I hope to use part of the class to help prepare students for such tasks like the SAT, improve their reading or study skills, or current event awareness.  Students in this class do not just need a study hall, but a place where they can get support and clarification for their academic classes, but also need the opportunity to improve other skills that they may or may not have time in their other courses to really focus on.  In the ninth-grade science classes that I support, we are also doing more formative check-ins, so we can better improve instruction/clarify when students are not understanding what is being taught.  This practice will continue throughout the second semester. I look forward to what is in store for the second half of the 2019-2020 school year.


Welcome to your Professional Learning Blog! This is a place for you to post your goals, and reflect on them throughout the year.

  • Decide on your goal, perhaps in consultation with your colleagues or principal, and create a post to share with this online professional learning community that you are now a part of! Categorise this post in Goal Setting. Set your goal by considering:
    • Self assessment and reflection based on new teacher standards  (Tripod 7C’s)
    • Previous or new observation data from peers and principals
    • Student surveys (online surveys developed and aligned with 7C’s)
  • Identify colleagues, coaches, principals etc. that will play a supporting role in achieving your goal, and invite them to view and comment on your post. Encourage them to bookmark your blog and visit regularly.
  • Throughout the year, collect and share evidence to support your progress. Categorise these posts in Reflection.
  • Encourage your colleagues to share your learning journey by engaging with your blog. In return, engage with their blog (and others across the School)
  • You may also like to share work that your students have created or your own professional achievements that may not be directly related to your goal setting. This is encouraged! Categorise these posts as Showcase.

If you need support using this platform, please don’t hesitate to contact Ed Tech, we are always happy to be of assistance!

© 2021 Jen Hohman

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑