So I’ll admit it. I’ve been pretty bad at keeping a blog since I’ve been in Thailand. Particularly blog posts about my teaching life. In fact, I’ve been pretty much silent (and not for bad reasons!).
There’s such a massive difference between “studying abroad” and “working abroad”. In England, I experienced life in a big city with a little schoolwork and class on the side. In Thailand, I’m spending 40 hours a week in a classroom with small children that melt your heart but wear you out. On top of my time and energy constraints, I also didn’t want to compromise my new job by over-sharing until I felt comfortable.
1) I love my job.
2) I love Thailand.
3) I’m in love/obsessed with my students.
4) I’m returning to the US in April, which means I want to document more of my experiences here since I only have a couple months left in Thailand.
To start off a few teacher-y posts, I thought I’d try something a little fun instead of a long ramble. Here are 7 things a picture of my classroom says about my life.
1) No chairs. The program I work for is devoted to the idea that English learning should be “fun” for small children. So that means no chairs, no written work (until worksheet time), and lots and lots of games. For this, we need lots of free space for relays, beanbag games, dodgeball… anything you can think of. (My camp counselor self is shining).
2) Name tags are key. I teach 22 individual lessons a week with about 25-30 kids in each class. That means I am responsible for about 500 kids a week. It’s… daunting. And awesome. Despite the language barrier, I’ve really found that a lot of their funny and unique personalities make my day (or make me want to pull my hair out). But name tags are my saving grace.
3) The alphabet is my friend. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is teaching children to read. About half of my lessons are devoted to phonics and reading skills (the rest are focused on conversation and fluency). Since the Thai alphabet is majorly different than the roman alphabet we use in English, I’m constantly drilling letter sounds and helping kids sound out words.
4) A basket of game supplies. Because my host school owns both a kindergarten and elementary school, I split my week teaching at the K-school (ages 3, 4 and 5) on Tuesdays and Thursday at the “Prathom” school (ages 6-12). My babies, as I like to call them, learn colors, animals, numbers, etc. while older students learn more complex language structures in question and answer formats. The game basket is full of balls and dice to help make all of my lessons fun and interesting.
5) The Thai president and Buddha. These pictures can be found in any classroom in Thailand. My host school provides a Buddhist-infused school day with prayers in the morning, before lunch, and at the end of the day. All my kids are very respectful to this schedule and I always enjoy watching them chant their prayers together. The picture of the president is just as important, since he is a very revered person in Thailand.
6) Air conditioning is my best friend. Thank god for AC. Seriously though. Thailand is hot, hot, hot. I can’t imagine my work day if I didn’t have the AC to keep my comfortable.
7) Board work. Like most teachers, I’ve found that the white board is my friend. I write language on the board, use it for board games (like tic-tac-toe and memory) and keeping track of my lesson plans. It keeps my grounded.