I just finished my first week of teaching. Whoever said not to have any expectations was so right. School is already very different than I imagined- not necessarily in a bad way. I teach A LOT: Mondays I teach six classes and Tuesdays and Wednesdays I teach five. Thursday and Friday are much easier (three and two). My school is only a three minute motorbike ride from my house so I get to go home for lunch. That may not sound like a big deal but it makes the day so much more manageable. The directors are pretty lax as far as dress code is concerned; I wear an unbuttoned short sleeve button down everyday, except on Wednesdays (sports day!) when I wear sneakers and a t-shirt.
Lesson planning is not as big a part of my day-to-day as I thought it would be; I teach directly out of a textbook for math and science so there is only so much room for creativity and fun (especially for math). I try to make it as engaging as possible by making up songs and games, but it’s really hard to be creative and fun when teaching 6-9 year olds the difference between a spring scale and a balance scale and how many hectograms equal one kilogram. I only see three classes (P 1/1, P2/2 P 3/3) but I see them at least once a day. I see P 1/1 2-3 times a day for math, science, and computers (I found out just before my first computers class that “com” stands for computers and not “communicative english” like I was previously told). For my first computers class I had each student open a word document and type whatever they could. I demonstrated by typing “My name is Teacher Luke. I am from America. I love dogs!” I gave them some time to write anything they wanted, and then I remembered they were 6 years old. I think I’ll come up with something a little more basic for next week’s class!
One thing that I find hilarious is how every single student is trained to begin each lesson by standing up and saying (although usually not understanding) “Good Morning Teacher Luke” and after I respond and ask them “How are you?” they all respond with “I am fine, thank you. And you?” Really? The best word the Thai teachers could teach these kids is fine? Is every student really just fine? Not ‘well’ or even ‘great’? I always respond with “I am great” and am hoping it will catch on, but who knows.
P 1/1 is my youngest class (6-7 year-olds) and they are amazing. Every single student is so focused and excited for my class. In my science class with them I taught about animals with legs, tails, and wings and made up a song that got the kids moving and was a fun way to help them remember the material (feel free to use it LOL). I had the tune of “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath in my head while making it up.
HISSSSSSSSSS (while dancing like a snake) x2
I am a snake! x2
I have one tail! x2
I have no legs! x2
GRRRRRRRRRR (while dancing like a lion) x2
I am a lion! x2
I have one tail! x2
I have four legs! x2
TWEET, TWEET, TWEET, TWEET (while dancing like a bird) x2
I am a bird! x2
I have two wings! x2
I have two legs! x2
TWEET, TWEET, TWEET, TWEET
Creative song, huh (not)? As far as I’m concerned the jury is still out on whether birds have tails so I didn’t even go there.
I have great relationships with the students in my classes- I walk into the classroom and they cheer, “Teacher!” and all come up to give me high fives. I don’t think they’ve ever seen a nose like mine before. They constantly come up to me and make some type of big nose gesture. Not in a rude way, they’re just astounded by how big my nose is! No Thai person has a huge (aristocratic) bump on their nose like I do.
On Halloween I was in Ayutthaya with some other teachers on a street called “Soy Farang” (Foreigner Street) and an owner of one of the bars pulled me aside and said I had a huge nose and she wanted to get a nose job to have a nose like mine. I had never heard that in my life, but I’ll take it!
I’ve started to see the lightbulb go off in some of my students’ eyes and it’s the coolest thing. I can’t believe I’m getting through to them! Overall it’s been a solid first week. My roommates are both back (Matt from Connecticut and Hardus from South Africa) and they are really cool guys. They’ve been in Thailand for a year and in Bang Pa In for one term already so they’ve been showing me the ropes.
Here are some other thing’s I’ll note before signing off:
I’m off to Chaiyaphum for the weekend to meet up with some teacher friends and compare notes on the first week. Peace.