Goodbye, Valkenbos!

This experience has been  once in a lifetime. I never thought I would become so attached to the culture, school, and all of the people we have met. I will miss you all dearly.

First off, I want to thank my parents for allowing me to go on this adventure. I will never forget this trip! I am beyond blessed to be able to come to Europe and do all the things I have done thus far. Second, I want to thank TCU and The Hague University for allowing us to come to the Netherlands and setting us up with all of our schools. It has been wonderful to work with you all. Thirdly, I want to thank Mr. Eric and his wife Yvonne, you both have been so lovely to Amanda, Fallon, and I. It was so great to have personal tour guides throughout The Hague. Also, we still talk about how delicious the traditional Dutch dinner was that you made for us in your home. Lastly, I want to thank the children and staff of Valkenbos. You all opened up your classrooms and let us learn, grow, and teach with you. The Netherlands will always have a special place in our hearts and we will never forget you.

Here are some photos from today. The children replied to our student’s letters from Fort Worth.

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What does Montessori mean?

I may have not been explicit in the beginning about what kind of school I am at in the Netherlands. When my collegues at Montessorischool Valkenbos ask me “How different is our school from your school in America?”, they are shocked when I say it is very different. Lily B. Clayton, the school I am at in Fort Worth, is not a Montessori school. It is a public school in FWISD. Each grade level has it’s own age and the instruction is mainly directed by the teacher.
A Montessori school is completely the opposite and may vary depending on location.

The youngest groups 1 and 2 are  called “Onderbouw” and the age range is 4-6.
The middle groups 3, 4, and 5 are called “Middenbouw” and the age range is from 7-9.
The oldest groups 6, 7, and 8 are called “Bovenbouw” and the age grange is from 10-12.
*There are 4 classes each for Onderbouw, Middenbouw, and Bovenbouw*

Maria Montessori created Montessori schools to place children in an environment where activities are designed to support their natural development while educating themselves. Teachers are encouraged to stand back and “follow the students”. This means that the students natural instincts are to lead their learning. Students are given a lot of independence and choice in a Montessori school setting. The teacher does small group instruction rather whole class instruction and there is a lot of time for one-on-one instruction as well.

I have spent the most time in Bovenbouw with groups 6, 7, and 8. The significance behind having three different age groups in one classroom gives them the structure of being the youngest, in the middle, and the oldest. It also is a wonderful way to see educational growth and maturity, as the students will stay with the same teacher for three years in a row.

Majority of the day is spent doing independent tasks. The students have a empty checklist that they fill out for each day. They are to document each task they have completed and get them checked by the teacher at the end of the day. The tasks can range from all subjects (math, spelling, handwriting, workbook activities, history, science, reading etc.). The teacher may direct a small-group instruction every two-weeks or so but then the students are on their own. My teacher, Mr. Eric, explained that Montessori schools are structured to drive and motivate students as well as become independant learners. It also helps with organization and planning. The students are to plan out their day and organize what tasks they will be doing. The teachers never direct a student to do a specific task it is solely up to the student. The student knows what they should be doing at all times. If they do have a question or need help they are to ask their peers first then the teacher.

At Lily B. Clayton, most learning is done at a desk unless they are doing stations where they are moving to different parts of the classroom. At Montessorischool Valkenbos, the students are allowed to work on independent tasks anywhere in the building. Some are in the library, at computers,  or sitting at other desks/tables around the school.
A lot of the students go without shoes, stand on desks to read, and have a lot of freedom in how to perform or complete a task. Students are also given real-life tasks to complete such as taking care of a plant and cleaning the classroom at the end of the day.

Something else interesting at Montessorischool Valkenbos is that they do not have a Cafeteria. This is not a Montessori thing but rather a Dutch thing. Every student brings a snack and a lunch everyday to school. They eat the snack and lunch in the classroom with the teacher. Sometimes parents can volunteer to give the teacher a break and read to the students as they eat.

If you want to learn more about Maria Montessori, Montessori learning, or see my schools website feel free to browse these links:


een, twee, drie

Miss Carijne teaches Groups 1, 2, and 3 (een, twee, drie) and the children are  4-6 years old.  I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves…


Early Dismissal

Wednesdays in the Netherlands  are quite different than Wednesdays in the United States. The children get out at 12:15 instead of their normal time at 2:45. This is a Dutch tradition that not all but majority of the primary schools participate in. Fallon and I were asking what the children were doing after school and they grinned from ear to ear telling us what activities they would be doing. Some children were going to play sports, some were going to practice the piano, and some were going around the city with their friends or parents. It is evident that the Dutch value spending time outside, social interactions, and independence. They have roughly 45 minutes a day if not more outside, include team work and group activities throughout the school day,  and give a deadline of tasks to be done but also free range of what order and how to execute them.

Fallon and I had plans to meet Victoria and Emily (two other TCU gals in the Netherlands with us) at the Municipal Museum after class was dismissed. Before we went to the museum we wanted to get lunch. As we strolled through the streets of the Netherlands looking for a place to eat,  we saw trendy shops, mouth watering pastries, and cozy cafes. Fallon, Emily, Victoria and I ended up at a Thai restaurant that was delicious. We shared a few items on the menu and then trotted back to the museum before it closed. The reason we went to this museum is because it has a Audrey Hepburn exhibit. Little did we know was it the LARGEST Audrey Hepburn exhibit in existence by famous designer Hubert De Givenchy. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous is all I can say about this exhibit. Videos, magazine covers, evening gowns, and famous quotes from both Givenchy and Hepburn can only be described as the word I said previously, FAB-U-LOUS! Givenchy and Hepburn’s relationship was beautifully displayed throughout the exquisite designs and memorabilia.

P.S. I accidentally bought sparkling water instead of regular water because Dutch is the most confusing language…trying to stomach it down because I need to hydrate after walking all day ):!!!

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Vansdaag is het Dinsdag!

Here is a picture of Mr. Eric’s classroom schedule for Tuesday, January 31st 2017.
Below the picture I translated it to English…Enjoy!

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-8:30 Group 8 Gym and Group 6 and 7 individual work time, check assignments, one-on-one time with teacher

-Mathematics on Positive and Negative Numbers

-9.40 Group 7 Eat/ Gym

-10:00 Group 6 Grammar

-10:30 Recess/Lunch

-11:00 Firedrill

-11:20 Group 6 Gym and Group 7/8 English Lesson (Unit 2 Exam Drama)

-12:15 Recess/Lunch

-1:00 Reading Exam (Individual Work)

-2:00 Group Game

-2:40 Chore List/Tasks and Go Home

Montessorischool Valkenbos

Hoy!  Vandaag (Today), we figured out the transportation system and visited both The Hauge University and Montessorischool Valkenbos. When we arrived at The Hauge University, Sigurd and Maria Stock (education professors at the Hauge University) took us on a tour of the college. All of the different schools for the college such as business or education are on different levels on the building. The building is modern and from the inside looking up it resembles a windmill. There is a cafeteria, library, gym, and etc. but instead of being in seperate buildings everything is all in one. One thing that I loved was the coffee vending machines all around the college. You can order a cup of coffee, capacinno, latte, or espresso instantly for about 1 Euro. Also, they had a garage full of bikes that the students travel to the college on. It would be rare and uncommon to use a car going to and from class or even to the grocery store. Another thing that is different is that they do not have student housing at the Hauge University. All of the students either live in apartments in the Hauge or with their parents at home.

Next, Fallon and I went to our school called Montessorischool Valkenbos. Valkenbos is the name of the area where the school is located in the Hauge.  Fallon and I will be in a 5th grade class with Mr. Eric and roughly 28 students. We will be going from Monday through Thursday, 8:00am to 2:45pm. It is a Dutch tradition that on Wednesday the students get to leave at 12:15 and go home for the day. Fallon and I will get to teach English lessons, talk about the culture, and discuss how college life is at TCU. The students have an hour for lunch and recess and have the option to go home during that time.


Two girls, Dafine and Annalike, gave Fallon and I a mini-lesson on how to say the days of the week and the twelve months in Dutch. There is a heavy emphasis on the “g” and the sounds for each syllable in Dutch are the opposite of what they are in English. Mr. Eric’s class wrote Fallon and I letters in English  asking us how we like the Netherlands, if we had boyfriends, what our favorite hobbies were, and why we wanted to be teachers. They laughed when we tried to speak Dutch and were very intrigued by Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. Some students even asked us if we knew Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift. At the end of the day the students gave Mr. Eric a handshake, said “Doei, Doei” and ran off to go home.

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On our way home, Fallon and I got extremely lost. We found a tram to take us back but instead of getting off and going on a bus (like we did on the way there) we walked a little over two miles. On our long walk home we passed colorful flower shops and smelt delicious dutch food pouring out of the bakeries. Thankfully we burned off the carbs we had for lunch but to say we are exhausted would be an understatement.

Albert Heijn

Today we ventured out into the city to get groceries and find a blow dryer/straightener. The place we are staying is about a two-mile walk from the square. The grocery store that Fallon found was called Albert Heijn. The store had cute baskets with wheels that you could drag your food along in. For the most part we understood what the labels meant because of the pictures but milk was very confusing to figure out. One thing that was not confusing was the Dutch obsession over sprinkles. They had a whole section dedicated for sprinkles in every color you could possibly imagine.  While we were checking out we realized they do not have plastic or paper bags for groceries like we do in the United States. We had to buy reusable bags and carry our groceries home in them. The lady who checked us out at the register spoke English and told us where to find a blow dryer and straightener in the square. It was apparent that not many people go out on Sunday’s because a lot of stores and restaurants are closed. Everyone was super friendly and spoke English when we asked for directions or questions. It was obvious that we were not Dutch as a lot of people stared especially when we tried to use a crosswalk.
Tomorrow we will figure out how the buses work and go to our schools. More on that later…
Doei-doei!  (Bye-bye)

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Hallo! After two flights, one train ride, and a total of 250 pounds of luggage we finally made it to The Hauge. Sigurd and Nora from The Hauge University greeted us in Delft and brought us Dutch groceries. The groceries consisted of bread, butter, cookies, sausage, cheese, tea, sprinkles, chips, apple juice and peanut butter. A breakfast favorite of the Dutch is sliced bread with butter and chocolate sprinkles. After settling in, we walked to a modern restaurant called De Haagsche Beek. While eating our dinner we noticed trays of ice cream, chocolate syrup, and whip cream whizzing past us. Victoria and I split the banana ice cream topped with whip cream and sliced bananas that were drizzled in chocolate.


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