Ok, I can just about say a few words in Thai, I’m not going to pretend I can spell it too….but my best attempt of the above translates into “I am a teacher”. And I certainly am.
Compared to many, I haven’t been teaching long at all. But compared to some I am an expert. I used to get nervous about things, like starting a new job, like making speeches in front of 3000 students and staff. I’m not sure what’s changed, but my nerves have vanished. I started teaching this week, and have so far completed three teaching days, whilst most were extremely nervous and spending incredible amounts of time doing preparation etc, I was not fazed.
My school is called Sriracha School. It is about a seven minute bike ride from my apartment. It is right near the beach. The school itself is a really good school for a government school (or so I’ve heard), the students are polite and well behaved. I would say that I have to adopt roughly the same amount of classroom management that I did in the UK for a class of 15-20 students as I do here…and I have 50 Thai students in a class!! When I walk into a class one student will announce “please stand up” and the entire class will say in unison (and rather robot-like) “Good morning/afternoon teacher”, and then they wait for permission to sit down. They will always offer to carry my things and a couple of times I have left things in the classroom and they have come to find me to return it!
The school is hot, and I mean hot! There is no air con in any of the rooms that I facilitate, and the power has cut out a couple of time; leaving me with no fans either…when the Thai people are saying it’s hot…it must be HOT! Not that I complaining (well maybe a tad); I would much prefer to be hot than cold any day! People that I worked with in the past know what I am like with the cold…!
So I have, in three days, taught approximately 700 students, most lessons are duplicated, so there is not too much preparation, and as I am a conversation teacher, there is little marking either which is good. I am not even going to attempt to learn the students names, as I will teach over 1000 all in all, but there have been some interesting ones… Thai people have really long names, therefore they don’t really use them, they are only for official circumstances. Day to day they will use their nicknames, I believe they are given this name at birth. I have had some very interesting names, such as Darling, Fart, Fat, Palm, Ice (which somehow reminds me of TopGun!) and lots more…. In the staff room today they told me I must have a nickname and that I should choose, I chose Dow, this means stars in Thai, I thought this appropriate for me, because I believe that our fate and eternity are indeed, written in the stars, and this is something that I have spoken of quite regularly lately.
Today (two days due to rain in the mornings) I had to introduce myself at morning assembly. This was fine, and where most people would be extremely nervous about this prospect, I simply thought “when I am given the microphone, I will know what to say”, and I did. Morning assemblies are quite an event, some students will walk along the school in a kind of parade, playing instruments (and playing them very well), they will then have various speakers and announcements etc. It lasts 45 minutes.
Today the students were dressed in their house colours. I’m not really sure what this means, other than there is an explosion of colour amongst the students! Greens, blues, reds, yellows, the colours appear to be the same within particular classes. This is because Fridays are sports days, and I have been told that next week I should wear tracksuit bottoms and a collared T-shirt and trainers. It’s quite funny because the male teachers are frowned upon if they dress in this way, but from the ladies it is encouraged! I guess I need to go shopping for next week….! This is not the only day the students do not dress in uniform, Tuesday is pink day, on this day everybody wears pink as this is the Kings colour (and the King is VERY highly respected over here-to the point that they cannot even speak of their King without becoming emotional!), so I guess I need to go shopping for a pink shirt too…. And also, Wednesday is Scouts/Girl Guides/Red Cross day, so you can imagine the outfits on Wednesdays! Luckily I do not have to participate in this!
So, basically, school has been good. I’m not sure if the repetition might not get to me a little, but hey I have beautiful beaches and island exploring to look forward to on the weekends! This weekend me and my friend Lauren from Chonburi (two towns down the coast) and another girls called Amy that I am yet to meet are heading down to Pattaya to check out the scene….should be good : )
I feel that teaching comes relatively naturally to me, I feel confident to walk into almost any classroom and to teach. This could prove a considerable advantage if I wanted to do much more travelling….who know what will be…. But I do know that everything happens for a reason…could this be the reason I quite clumsily ‘fell’ into teaching back in 2008? To prepare me for my future travels? To help facilitate me to see the world that I have so desperately longed to see since such a young age? Who knows. But what I do know is that everything happens for a reason, I could easily spend a lifetime analysing the choices, decisions, paths that I have taken, but for now….(as wisely spoken by a good friend to me today)…I’m just going to ‘roll with it’….