Meet My Albanian Students

Here are my Grade One students…


Aren’t they darling?  I am thoroughly enjoying being their Grade One teacher.  In most ways teaching these children is no different than teaching my American first graders other than that most of them are English language learners.

Here are a few interesting facts about teaching at Albanian College.

  • The children arrive in the classroom at 7:45 each morning with classes starting at 8:00.  The children are dismissed at 3:20 each day.
  • The school provides breakfast and lunch every day for all the children.  The children are given 20 minutes to eat their breakfast/lunch.
  • There are three twenty minute recesses each day.
  • In the period of a week the children attend the following special area classes:
    • two 40 minute classes of P.E.
    • two 40 minute classes of art
    • four 40 minute classes of performing arts (a combination of music and drama)
    • four 40 minute classes of Albanian (it is important to the school and parents that the children be instructed in their mother tongue as well as English)
    • one 40 minute class of library
  • Next year, when these children are in Grade Two, they will have a choice of learning French, German or Chinese as their third language.
  • Each teacher supervises three meals a week and four recesses a week.
  • We have a one hour faculty meeting each week after school in addition to one grade level meeting each week held during the school day.
  • We have three Saturdays during the year when we attend professional development.  The first one was this last Saturday.  The school asked if I would do an hour long presentation about differentiating instruction which I ended up doing.

School is going well although at times I feel overwhelmed.  I am confident with the reading, writing and math instruction but getting the hang of the international baccalaureate curriculum with inquiry learning, Managebac, central ideas, lines of inquiry, transdisciplinary themes, etc. is not easy.  Yikes!!  At times, I feel like I am riding a bicycle as hard and fast as I can but not getting anywhere.  Given more time I am sure it will start to make more sense.  Whenever you try something new there has to be a learning curve, right?  🙂

Right now I am prepping for parent teacher conferences next week.  The following week we have no school which means we will be traveling.  Yippee!  We are going to Vienna, Austria with a two night side trip to Salzburg.  We will be visiting Peter Bernal Reyes and his fiancee, Julia.  Peter stayed with our family in Fairport for a year while he was in high school and is an absolutely delightful young man.  He is now a pilot for Lufthansa Airlines. We are looking forward to reconnecting with him and Julia and getting to explore Austria.  The “icing on the cake” is that our son, David, will be flying over to spend the week in Austria with us.  Can’t wait!

Here are a few more pictures of my students before I finish up this post…

Thanks to Kathy Halley at Dudley for sharing this song with me several years ago.  It is a great way for the kids to learn the name of their school, room number and teacher.  I just changed the words to fit Albania. We sang this song many times during the first week of school.  The kids loved it!  Thanks, Kathy!!!


One more picture to share…  This is the entire staff at Albanian College Tirana.  I am to the right in the back.  These really are a delightful group of people to work with!

Randy is doing well.  He is spending his time reading, keeping our kitchen stocked with food, helping with school things on occasion and exploring Tirana.  He has become an expert at navigating around the city.  Randy is headed back to Fairport on October 24th because hunting season is now open.  I will see him again at Christmas time as our family meets in South Africa to celebrate the holidays.

35 thoughts on “Meet My Albanian Students

  1. Sarah, your students look beyond adorable! I’m sure you are more than kicking butt as their teacher. Many times during the first few weeks of school I thought about our students from last year and I miss working with you!

    I’m also learning how to teach English language learners this year, and already I feel like I’ve learned so much! While I’m home for now, I look forward to working with those babies again!

    I love hearing about your adventures- keep it coming!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for keeping up with my blog, Jayme! I also miss teaching with you and the rest of my Fairport friends. I have loved seeing your little Derek on Facebook. What a sweet baby!!!! You and Matt seem to be settling well into parenthood, so happy for all of you!!!


  2. I love the pictures of the kids and seeing all you are doing. What an interesting family – Christmas in South Africa – wow! You are seizing the day in the best possible way, and your students are so lucky.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mary! We miss Christ Church… We have not figured out any type of church situation here. The city has mostly mosques and Greek Orthodox places of worship. We looked into finding something through the British Embassy but nothing came of it.


  3. I’m sure you are a wonderful teacher. If you’re like me, you’ll end up learning as much from your students as they do from you. What an adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is so good to hear from you…. Who knew that after working and living together for a year in NKC we would still be in touch 40 years later. You are absolutely right, Kay. I feel like I have already learned so much about the culture of Albania from these little 6 and 7 year olds.

      Are you still teaching?


  4. Those students are adorable, and I bet their families are wonderful too! Hearing about your weekly schedule was so interesting. I bet your colleagues learned so much from you when you did your presentation. Enjoy your week off, as you travel through Europe. You are truly “living the dream!” Ann P.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sarah , your sense of adventure is inspirational! Your students are so lucky to have you in their lives as well as you are to have them! Keep up that energy and strength, your wisdom will guide you😀!,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading my blog, Barb. Thanks also for the encouragement. We just finished our parent teacher conferences which I found to be so interesting. Getting to know the parents always gives such good insight into the children.


  6. Hello Sarah and Randy
    Your students are adorable! If their beaming faces are any indications they think your pretty special too. Enjoy your travel week.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your students are adorable and oh, so lucky to have you! I am so proud of your example of embracing life long learning – you continue to impress and amaze me! The breakdown of your student’s day/week is quite the contrast to your Fairport students in some ways, but I imagine there are just as many similarities. Likewise with your teaching responsibilities – PD on a Saturday and weekly faculty and grade level meetings – WOW! Keep the updates coming – what a treat to be on this adventure with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for keeping up with my blog, Karen. In general, I would say there are more similarities than differences with my Albanian students. All kids seem to respond well to some structure along with having the opportunity to feel successful. We are just now starting up with our guided reading groups so I am anxious to see how all that goes, especially to see how my English Language Learners respond to some of my Orton Gillingham instruction.

      We are just coming off having a week long time away from school. I am looking forward to seeing my teacher friends and the kids but at the same time it sure has been nice having some down time.

      I do miss you and the rest of my Dudley friends. Take care!


  8. Sarah,
    Your students are sooooo cute! You are working so hard on their behalf and if possible, are growing even more as a teacher. So glad that you and Randy are enjoying this new adventure and now travels with David and to the Chervenaks. Thanks for sharing your life! Miss you and love you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Miss you too, Lynne! I hope life is settling down for you and Chris with all the weddings behind you. I remember feeling a bit deflated after my kids’ were married just because there was so much hype for so long and then I needed to readjust to regular living. Hugs to you and Chris!


  9. Sarah,
    I absolutely love your posts!!! It seems like you are having a great time, and will have so much to teach us when you return! You continue to be such an inspiration. Enjoy your travels in the upcoming weeks!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I always love reading your blog! 💕 Thanks for expanding our horizons! Your students are precious (I giggled at the boy in front with the “thumbs up”). I’m sure you’re looking forward to your travels & seeing David … enjoy! Miss you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for continuing to read my blog, Lisa! It is Sunday today and I am feeling like we should be heading out for a walk. I am wondering if you have plans to see either of your kids sometime soon. We saw David last week and it was such a “breath of fresh air”. LOVED being with him!


  11. Sarah, I fell in love with your students on sight! I’m surprised they have such common names; I expected something more exotic. I love reading your blog and hearing of your adventures. Enjoy your vacation! I can’t wait to hear about that, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Monica, My students names look like common names but the pronunciation is often different. i.e. Joel is pronounced /y/ o-e-l and Ana is pronounced Ona, Martin is pronounced Marteen. Thanks for reading my blog… 🙂


  12. Dear Sarah,The kids look really happy to have you as their teacher. Continued good luck and success. We do miss Randy at the Firehouse.Randal

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Sarah,

    Your stories continue to fascinate me! I’m stuck on that idea of 3 recesses. I feel like that could really reduce the number of wiggles in the classroom for these little ones. Although, suiting them up 3 times a day during a Rochester winter could get to be a bit much! I also love how much emphasis they place on language and the arts. Although, with all those Specials, do you feel like you have enough time to teach?

    Miss seeing you at Dudley! Enjoy Salzburg, that was one of my favorite cities when I traveled ( about 200 years ago), but I’m sure it’s still just as lovely! “Hello” to David for me.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Three recesses has been interesting to experience. At Dudley I have always felt like I needed to work in one or two GoNoodle activities each day to help the kids get their wiggles out. I started my year here doing the same thing but am finding these types of breaks less and less needed and rarely use GoNoodle anymore. It is definitely a challenge trying to get all the curriculum in when we have so many Specials but the kids are in school for an hour longer each day than in Fairport so that helps.

      We just arrived back in Vienna after spending the last three days in Salzburg. It was lovely, I will post about our trip sometime soon. Tomorrow we fly back to Tirana and David flies back to NYC. It will be hard to say good-bye to him because we won’t see him again until March.

      David sends greetings to you as do I. Thanks for staying in touch!


  14. Sarah ,Thank you for all the updates. I especially love the “silly” picture of the whole class! They are all adorable. I wonder how you fit in your lessons with so many specials each week. Enjoy your travels – looking forward to your next post! Miss You!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I miss you and the rest of my Dudley friends too! Fitting in all the needed lessons is not easy with this schedule. We start guided reading groups next week which is always my favorite part of teaching. I am trying not to be overly concerned with not getting everything in everyday and just seeing how it all goes. Stay tuned…


  15. Sarah, just checked out yuor blog and I love it and am so fascinated! Are you going to be around for all of April? Looking to come visit and explore! Let me know! I have a plane ticket on hold!


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