My first week as an English teacher and the military coup!

My first week as an English teacher and the military coup!
It’s official: I have completed my first week as an English teacher in Thailand.
(Well kind of… but the military coup happened…)

It’s almost been a month since I have been living in my new home over here in Thailand. For the past couple of weeks I have been preparing for my first week of school, which as of Friday I just completed. With my placement I was fortunate enough to have those couple weeks of preparation. It is not unusual for people to find out a placement and begin teaching in the next few days with zero time to think or prepare. It is actually quite common. The couple weeks leading up to my first week consisted of lesson planning, familiarizing myself with the English, math (which everyone refers to as maths with an s, but I refuse to because it is math), and science curriculum’s, creating pre/post exams, and so on. 
My typical school week is going to consist of me teaching English to my fourth grade students five times a week, science twice (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and Math three times a week (Mon., Wed., and Fri.). I teach each lesson for a duration of 50 minutes and I have 19 students in my classroom. I also am very fortunate enough to have an assistant teacher, Pai! On top of my English, math, and science classes, I have to teach a conversation class every day. The conversation classes are a complete nightmare and I will go into them in more detail later on. I teach conversation to two other fourth grade classes (not the same as my English, math, and science students), two sixth grade classes and one fifth grade class.
Friday, May 16th was approaching quickly and it wasn’t till about that Thursday before when the nerves started to kick in. Not only was I starting a new teaching job, but I was starting a job with children who speak very little English. I had no idea how well they were going to understand me or if they were going to understand me at all. That Friday I woke up and started getting ready for school trying not to think too much about the day, hoping the nerves wouldn’t kick in too bad. As I got closer to school (on my awesome new motor bike which I have come to love) I could start to see all the cars backed up waiting to pull into school. Now the nerves were kicking in. Well I arrived at school, signed in, and walked up to the staff room. Once I entered the staff room, I was informed that we wouldn’t be having any classes today after all. My first reaction was a sigh of relief. The students were going to be busy on the Thai side with their Thai teachers and attending assemblies all day. The only thing I had to do was show up to an assembly at 8:45 to introduce myself to the students. Sounds easy right? Well once I arrived to the assembly I was immediately motioned to go to the front and stand with the other new Thai teachers. They were passing a microphone down the line and each of them were talking, but of course talking in Thai. I had no idea what I was supposed to do/say, but luckily my assistant teacher was next to me and told me to just state my name, where I am from, and what I will be teaching. So I did that. And of course all the students laughed. So that was that. The rest of the day was spent doing a whole lot of nothing with the other English teachers. Technically my first day of teaching was done even though I didn’t teach or meet any of my students. 
Monday morning was the same routine as Friday, but this time when I arrived to school I knew today I would in fact be teaching. My first class was period 3 (10:20-11:10) teaching English, followed by math (11:10-12:00). I wasn’t too worried because today was going to be made up of introduction activities to get to know one another. I had a few fun games for the students to play and a few activity worksheets as well. Once period three arrived, first thing was first: name tags. I needed to learn their names and quickly so first on the agenda was for them to make their own name tags. I wasn’t too worried about memorizing their names more than I was being able to pronounce their names! In Thailand when a child is born, they are given their birth name and they are also given a nickname by their parents. The nickname given to them is the name they go by. Their nicknames are most definitely interesting. A few examples: Yogurt, PowPow, Boom, and Cream. That Monday I spent periods three and four getting to know my 19 new students. The first day (technically second) was complete.

The next few days were spent figuring out what level my students were at with their English and introducing the first English, science, and math units. I can’t wait to get to know my students better and see what this school year has to bring. It will most definitely be a challenge with the language barrier, but I am already surprised at the level of English they have!

Conversation classes: 50 minutes spent of me yelling at 35-40 students who don’t understand English to be quiet and sit in their seat. The other teachers warned me of these classes and little did I know they were not lying. They are a nightmare. I have five each week (one every day) and out of those five there are two that are reasonable (a fifth and fourth grade class). The students in the conversation classes know very little English and the conversation class is their only English lesson in school (so once a week). My favorite part of conversation classes are the students talking to me in Thai like I understand them or when I have 40 students all yelling ‘Teacher, Teacher!’

Okay so last, but not least: THE MILITARY COUP!

Just as I was about to complete my first week of school, the military coup happened. Thursday night around 8 or so I was on social media and started noticing a lot of posts about the military announcing a coup in Thailand. A little while later I got a text that school was going to be closed tomorrow. Due to the military coup all schools in Thailand were shut down on Friday. I was finding this coup very interesting. Where I am in Thailand nothing is going on. Everyone is going about their everyday business. Protests and such are mainly centered in Bangkok and Northern Thailand. I am very far and safe from all the action! So thanks to the military coup I was able to enjoy a long weekend! I’m really not worried at all about the coup and hopefully things will be resolved soon, so people back home should not worry either 🙂

That’s it for now! Thanks for reading : )

One thought on "My first week as an English teacher and the military coup!"

  1. Julia says:

    Thank you for your posts. I have just moved to teach in Thung Song and I have also freaked out when I could not find any decent information in Google.

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