After 8 months in Thailand I think I can safely say that I’ve just about got my everyday life figured out. Sometimes Thailand will still manage to throw me for a loop, but such moments of confusion are occurring less frequently than before.
On an average school day teachers arrive at school between 7:30 and 8:00. Morning assembly starts at 8:00, beginning with the National Anthem and flag raising. (Actually, the anthem is played all over Thailand at both 8 AM and 6 PM. This means that everyone in Thailand stops what they are doing and stands still while the anthem plays over the loudspeakers conveniently located throughout the country). Classes begin at 8:30, which means if you’re lucky you can start teaching by 8:40. Classes last for 50 minutes and school lets out at 4 PM.
Most of my classes are teaching conversational English – granting me the task of trying to get 40 to 50 Thai students to speak English. Classroom control has been a big obstacle. Keeping such large groups of students quiet while I teach and getting them to speak during activities is a struggle. Games have proven to be the most effective way to get students to pay attention and participate. However, this also makes the students less than cooperative on the inevitable boring days, filled with practice and exercises that are not as exciting as they would have liked.
I have one class of 30 students, who all pay extra to be in the Mini English Program (MEP). MEP students are essentially paying to be taught by native English speaking teachers in science, math, performing arts, health class, and reading/writing with the added bonus of being in an air conditioned room with technology and fewer students vying for the teacher’s attention. Out of all my students I see these students most often. I know them best and feel most comfortable doing big projects with them, because I can actually hold them accountable for their assignments.
For my other 400+ students I still gather grades, but more for my benefit than anything else. Names have been a huge challenge. I’ve just had to accept that I won’t know everyone’s name and try to remember who I can!