After two EP kindergarten teachers decided to jump ship, that meant they needed to be replaced. I KNEW they were going to ask me. As you know from my previous post, my work life is chillax. One of the reasons they left, or so they claim, is because of the amount of work. For me this is hard to wrap my head around, after sitting at a desk 7am-4pm with little flexibility and a list of tasks that must be accomplished while also dealing with the social media blow up that can occur at any moment. Not sure how they can’t handle it or saw it as overwhelming.
The reason I was opposed to making the switch was why would I have all my freedom taken away for the same pay? It didn’t make sense to me. So of course I was asked, and of course I said absolutely hell no. Then we were asked would if we wouldn’t mind helping out if needed. I was extremely reluctant and said no because I figured it meant they would put me over there and I would get stuck. Also, my kinder-babies were in the middle of exams. I knew how I was grading and their levels and I didn’t trust someone else to handle them the same way that I had. I had finally got the swing of things and my classes were just started to learn my name. It was ready for everything to change.
A few hours later we were called back into the office to be told we would be “helping” until Christmas Break started. Not going to lie, I was being extra dramatic about this response. I was so mad, mainly because I was asked, gave my answer then told you’re doing it anyways. Just tell me from the start, I don’t like being given false options. My other worry was the fact that we were going to be gone to Pattaya all weekend and I wasn’t sure when I would have the chance to prepare a song and lesson before Tuesday morning.
The English Program is very, very different from the IEP program. It almost feels like you are in a different school. The classrooms are nicer and my Thai teacher speaks a little bit of English, which is not the case in IEP. I am thankful for this. Ms. Nong has been such a huge help to me. The morning starts at 8am with a morning assembly. One student stands on the the stage and guides the rest of the classes through the program. The kids start by reciting the national anthem, in Thai obviously. Then they say a prayer blessing their teachers, parents and benefactors (such a big word for kinder-babies!). First in Thai then in English. The classes then sit down for meditation with a sweet, little song playing in the background. It is absolutely the cutest thing ever.
***US Schools take note!!!****
Next, we rally the troops to go to the “toilet”. This happens about 1000 times in a day. The boys and girls use the same bathroom where the stalls have no doors. One girl was even using the restroom while a boy student was standing there talking to her. It isn’t weird to them at all because they don’t know any different. That would NEVER fly in the states.
Next, all the sweet babies take off their shoes and head into class to chug their warm chocolate milk.
For my first day, I was thrown right in because they had an assembly upstairs with the other classes. And going upstairs meant, 29 Thai babies, the Thai teacher and me all in an elevator. Not like a big industry elevator, I’m talking your below average hotel elevator. All I could imagine during our ascend to the 6th floor was I hope we don’t get stuck and run out of oxygen.
Wednesday is when I finally had to my first real teaching, outside of worksheets. We rallied into a BIG circle and I began my lesson, starting with the song of the week. I had planned to just play one off my phone. Unfortunately, I was having technical difficulties and had to come up with a song about a tree on the FLY. I wasn’t told they had to perform it on Friday in front of the parents until the kids were being put on stage that Friday morning. The Thai teacher even made me sing it alone, so she could video me and practice with the kids. I can assure you my rendition of “I am a Big Tree”, is not the next nursery rhyme hit.
It was so refreshing to be able to communicate with my class. Even though they aren’t fluent, it makes all the difference. The class I was helping with was so well-behaved. They stole my heart. After thinking it through and talking with another kindergarten teacher, I decided to take up the offer and switch classes. I am able to make a connection with them because of their ability to communicate with them and the fact that we are together all day and not just once a week.
The lesson I learn from this is don’t knock something until you try it. The school also offered me a pay raise, which solidified my decision even more. I do not think my Thailand experience would be what it is if I wouldn’t have taken this step. I can now say I look forward to work a lot more. Ironically enough, I actually do less in front of the class teaching than in my other position, and still enjoy my two hour lunch.
I now am able to do arts and crafts and cooking snacks with them twice a week. This is the part I was dreading the most, but has actually become my favorite. I love seeing them smile and have a moment of fun during the day. I enjoy feeling as though I am a real teacher. I know feel very appreciated. They give me such a big reaction every time I walk into the door.
I now know all my students names, but it is difficult having a Pun, Poon, Pan-Pan and Phoon when you don’t speak with the same Thai inflection. I don’t have favorites because they are literally all sweet angels. I got so lucky, but there are definitely some that interact with me more than others. I am going to introduce you to a few now!
Elf, is a big belly, toothless cutie. He loves snack time and constantly talking to his two best friends Pee and Shiryu. They can be my problem boys sometimes. He seems like a tough guy, but he got a little scared and grabbed onto me and Pan-Pan’s hands during the Dinosaur field trip.
Next brings me to Pan-Pan! Also toothless, but with a heart of gold. She is my little mini me, and always fights her way to sit next to my during circle time. She pays attention intently during the song of the week as she wants to be the first to know it out of the girls. We do singing competitions between boys and girls.
The boy vocal leader goes to the Teacher’s Pet, Phon or Phon-Phon as everyone calls him. He is giving us his most fierce model face in the pic above with Pan-Pan. His English is really, really good. He definitely prefers to be right by my side. I typically have to encourage him to have snack time with his friends instead of sitting in my lap. He wants to talk to me so bad, that when he runs out of English words to use, he will start speaking in Thai. He knows good and well I have no clue what he’s saying.
Then brings me to my sweet little Month, pronounced like Munt. If you say Month, she won’t respond. Once again, that Thai inflection is everything. She has great English skills as well. She is always at the front of the line on the walk to lunch and she has to yell “Wait for me Teacherrrr” because I tend to walk too fast for her little legs. She also likes for me to sit next to her while the watch movies, so she can attempt to narrate for me. She says she wants to help me because she knows “I can’t hear Thai.” She doesn’t speak with much of an accent, so she is very easy to understand.
There is so many more students and so much more about my day, but I will save it for another post! I am already getting incredibly sad thinking about leaving my little class that I love so much.
****Sorry for my horrible quality photos. Most were taken on my iPhone****
Music for this post provided by the one and only, Buckley Willis. I am blessed to call him an ex-roommate, friend and the boyfriend of my best friend. *Speaking of Codie, how awesome of a job did she do on the album artwork?** He has been working hard on his latest tunes and put together a little home produced album titled Fools Gold. My favorite track is “Just Right”. If you like Neil Young or Bob Dylan, these vibes will not disappoint.