Every morning I wake to the sound of one bird outside my window. I am positive that it is always the same bird, and I am positive that it is making this noise simply to keep me awake. I want to describe the noise this one bird makes outside my window, but I don’t think I can do it justice. It makes a quiet “hoot,” but of a sort that I’ve never heard before. It is almost like an Owl’s “hoot,” but a little softer and can only be heard when Luke is trying to sleep. I think it gathers energy from my attempts to sleep. It gets happier when I lay awake trying to ignore it but ultimately succumb to the power of its hoot.
Unfortunately, I guess waking up to the devil bird is part of the routine I’ve become accustomed to. I wake up (earlier than I plan on), take a quick shower, and eat an apple, a carrot, and a yogurt (Why this combination? I don’t really have an answer for you.). I leave for school on my motorbike with Matt on the back (he hasn’t rented one yet) ~2 minutes before we have to be there and sign in just in time for assembly. Then the day of class begins. Thursdays and Fridays it barely feels like I’m working; I teach a couple classes then go home, eat lunch, and hang around (usually at Tavorn Park coffee house where I’ve become a regular) until I have to sign out at 3:30. Not a bad deal!
This entire week there has been a big pile of (pardon my French) *dog shit* in the middle of the school. No one seems to care. I almost included a picture but I thought you could use your imagination. On Monday it was in tact, but students slowly started stepping on it and tracking it everywhere until the whole school smelled like a toilet (kind of a weak comparison I know, give me a break OK?). On Tuesday someone decided, hey, why pick it up when I could just dump sand on top of it? So since Tuesday the remains of the big pile of you-know-what have been sitting in the middle of school, covered in sand. Dog shit-1, Thailand-0.
Besides leaving fecal matter to be tracked throughout the school, Watchumpon is a funny place. There are smart boards and projectors in many of the classrooms but no one knows how to use them. Instead of figuring it out, we just don’t use them. They’re just sitting there looking nice and using up the school’s budget. I taught computers to my P 1/1 class on Monday again. I had the *perfect idea* to have the students create powerpoints about dinosaurs with pictures and words to describe them. Displaying an example on the projector would be so helpful for the kids, but of course the projector did not work. The English Director always says not to be too serious, so I guess I should just work with what I’m given. Mai pen rai, right? Besides the fact that there was no working projector to demonstrate how to create a powerpoint, trying to teach 6 year-olds how to use computers IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE is near impossible. Creating powerpoints with 6 year-olds will be easy! Great idea, Luke! It’s so simple, Luke! Why would I think that would work? The students do not know how to use computers at all. But oh well, most of the students were able to make a pretty awesome title page.
LUKE = SUN
In my P 1/1 class we are learning about the different plants and their parts. I asked the class to draw a picture with plants and label everything. I drew an example on the board and I wrote my name in the top right-hand corner indicating that they should write their name there as well. When I collected the drawings I noticed that most of them labeled the sun as “Luke.” Now my whole class thinks the sun is called “Luke” and I don’t think I’ll correct them.
SUPERHERO SCIENCE PROJECT
Wednesdays in my P 1/1 science class I am supposed to come up with some kind of science project to do with the students. This is a great idea and Kaija (science camp teacher extraordinaire) gave me some awesome experiments to try. As excited as I am to see how kids react when we blow up balloons using vinegar and baking soda or put mentos in a bottle of coke, I completely forgot to bring in materials for an experiment this Wednesday. Instead I told the students to make superhero masks. And they LOVED it. They drew and colored elaborate creations and came back Friday with masks they cut out and attached string to! I love how my students take this kind of stuff to the next level, they just get into it because why not.
LEARNING IS FUN!
I’m definitely in the swing of teaching now. I have a routine and feel confident walking into the classroom. I know most of my kids, but I’m still trying to make the lessons engaging and fun. I teach directly out of the textbook for math and science, so I have to be creative to incorporate interactive activities. I started new units this week (P 1/1: mass, P 2/1: multiplication, P 3/1: volume) and I’ve been trying to make the classes more interactive then just teaching them a few things and asking them to do a page in the workbook (which is what happens all too often). I’ve continued to make up silly songs at random times and have started playing more games. Even if the games seem ridiculous, the kids LOVE them. Whenever half of the class is pinned against the other, the students go ballistic. Bonus points if they get to slap the board! I decided that I’m going to play music to start every class on Fridays to celebrate the weekend, and today I played “Let It Go” from Frozen. The students freaked out. Even the students that know zero English know the words to “Let It Go.”
Without thinking, I’ve found myself using too many words in class and see blank stares from many students. These 6-9 year-olds for the most part are just beginning to learn English and I’ve noticed that when I speak too much it just makes them shut down and not even try to listen to what I’m saying. I’ve begun to focus more on matching simple words with clear actions, and talking SLOWLY. The school told my agent that the kids love me and have a great time learning in my classes, but that I talk way too fast. Which is completely true. I realized that as a child (or anyone really) it would be hard to pay attention to someone speaking solely in a foreign language you are just beginning to learn.
I cannot get over how nice Thai people are. Like unnecessarily nice. Here are just a few examples:
1) On my way back from my teaching agency in Ayutthaya I stopped at a market not far from my house and I happened to see another teacher from Watchumpon there. She was so glad to see me and walked around the whole market with me, showing me what I should try and even gave me some of the food she had already bought! She told me to get a banana leaf that was stuffed with fish curry and it was delicious; I would’ve never thought to try it if she didn’t tell me to.
2) I was walking home from TESCO last night to get half-price produce and cooked food (which they sell 7PM-close and it’s the best deal) and stopped into one of my regular restaurant spots to get some sticky rice (kao niow) to go along with the 7 baht curry I just bought. The lady thought I could use some more food so she gave me 2 free chicken on a sticks (they’re sooooo good)! Thank you!
3) Today I was sitting on the ground outside my school video chatting my parents during my first period off. A lady came up to me and spoke to me in Thai, and then proceeded to take me to a building that she opened up and turned on the lights and fans just so I could video chat in comfort! She even gave me a glass of water! That was so unnecessary but amazing!
I realize I never discussed my “adventure” to Chaiyaphum:
Getting to Chaiyaphum last Friday proved to be more of an adventure than I expected. I was under the impression it was a simple van ride to Mochit Station in Bangkok (just an hour from me) and then a 3-4 hour bus from there. I quickly learned in BPI (the new nickname I have for Bang Pa In which Tess doesn’t like) that there is no direct bus to Mochit. I took a 45-minute bus to Rangsit, and another half-hour bus to Mochit. A nice Thai lady told me that I took a van to Mochit BTS station, not Mochit Bus Station. She advised me to take a motorcycle taxi to Mochit Bus Station (my first experience on a MoTaxi). I got to the station just in time to make the 2PM VIP bus (288 baht for a big comfy seat, personal TV with all the Thai movies you could ask for, a weird waffle with raisins, a water bottle, and a small blanket. It was surprisingly enjoyable though). I got on a bus I thought would be 3-4 hours long and did not find out until 5PM that the bus ride would be longer. We finally pulled into Chaiyaphum at 7:30. I made it! I’m too tired to write about what I actually did in Chaiyaphum (and I think I wrote enough), but it was great to see a bunch of my friends and compare stories from the first week of teaching.
Heading to Bangkok for the weekend. Hopefully I’ll find the spice that’s going to blow my mind…