After being here for almost two months, I’ve yet to write about the reason why I’m here which is to teach. I always knew I couldn’t be a teacher, but I wanted to be able to see the world, so here I am. Overall, 10/10, would recommend. When my brother would be telling stories about his class, my mom would say, “Yea, Kara would go off on a kid.” Which is probably true. Since, I teach kindergarteners who don’t speak english, it is pretty hard for them to talk back, and if they do, I wouldn’t even know it. The worst I’ve had is telling a kid to fix his answers and he spit on my hand.
I teach K-2 Math in the IEP or Intensive English program, which basically means “Thai program”. It is super confusing, I know. The kids have minimal understanding of the language, other than few vocabulary words and numbers. This program cost almost half what the full English immersion program costs. I am a subject teacher, so I have 10 classes that I see for two lessons a week. The students also take two classes of English and Science a week. It can be frustrating to come up with fun, quick activities or games, such as arranging number flash cards in order. Not because they couldn’t do it, but because they cannot understand the directions.
I almost have it too good. We have a van pick us up every morning around 7:40am at our apartment. Our school is about a five minute ride down the road in the Bang Bua Thong Village. My first class starts at 8:30, so I have class until 11am, then starts my two, yes TWO hour lunch break. Class starts up again from 1pm-3pm. Then I am done for the day until we clock out at 4:37pm. Lots of free time. It can get boring, but it allows me free time to read, write, listen to music, etc. my favorite things.
Almost all of my materials are already available from teachers in our office, so there is little preparation that goes into my lessons. The main responsibility I have during my “planning periods” is to grade, stamp and return the worksheets.
The canteen food is very hit or miss. Sometimes it isn’t bad, but I also like to get off campus for a bit. Also, it smells in there. I’m not sure what it is, but the food most certainly does match the smell of the room. I typically eat or hang at this little place around the corner from school called “Heartmilk” where you can get fried rice or noodle dishes for 35baht, which is slightly over $1. It is worth it to me for the free Wi-Fi and change of scenery. Also, our office can get really loud. As many of you know, I complain because people listen to music in there constantly without headphones. #Annoying
Ok, so the kids are freaking adorable! Crazy, but cute. They have a tough time pronouncing the “R” in my name so it comes out as “Teacha Kale-a”. Lokkedw probably thinks the same thing when I try to say his name. With over 300 students, it is impossible to know everyone’s name. But I do know the names of my favorites like Khongpawn and Gunz. (See below). The students all have Thai names that are like 15 letter first names and 30 letter last names, then they pick a “nickname”. That’s how I have students with names like Porn, Fourwheel, Poo and Ping-Ping.
We have a uniform which i love. I hated waking up every morning staring at my closest attempting to make myself appear “business casual”. I’m a holes in the jeans, crochet crop top kind of gal. Wearing a uniform is mindless and since it is a requirement, I don’t feel like I am trying to look the part of something that I’m not. Second best part, is never having to wear shoes. It is Asian cultural to take off shoes before entering most places. Temples, classrooms, even some businesses – shoeless. Awesome, love it!
All of my classes have a Thai teacher and Assistant, who also don’t speak english. There is at least one of them in the class at all times, which makes it easy for me because I don’t have to be in charge of bathroom or discipline. (Like I said before, I have it made. Sorry to my teacher friends back in the states who are reading this.) It is also difficult because if I need to communicate something to them, like class has to end early, it is almost impossible.
Every class starts and ends with the students prayer hands together while they sing a song. In the morning, the students chant “Goodmorning, Teacha” then at the end of class it switches to “Thank you teacha”. They say it in Thai, English then Chinese. It is so sweet. They are definitely taught to honor authority, which there is a lack of in Western schools.
Each class is an hour long. We begin with easy songs I grew up with, such as “Old McDonald” or “If Your Happy and You know It”. Frog is their favorite phrase in “Old McDonald” because they like being able to hop around. They get so excited about anything that allows them move and be silly.
After Christmas break my day to day will be a little different as I am switching to the English program, with my very own group of kinder-babies. Stay-tuned!
So Thai people and allllll my kids are obsessed with this song. I mean OBSESSED! The entire song basically plays on a loop across Bangkok. Come to find out, the song isn’t even in Thai! Enjoy a little piece of what I listen to on the daily.