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Thailand teacher travels

My Perfect World

THAILAND | Monday, 6 January 2014 | Views [441]

I love my job. I can say that with a straight face and a smile and truly mean it. I am enjoying every minute of it… even the most awful minutes. Sure, my most awful day in Thailand was nowhere close to a good day in the states, but it sure as hell beats my worst days back home. All I have to do is pinch myself and focus on where I am, and it doesn’t seem so bad. I’m lucky to be having any day, good or bad, in this beautiful, backwards country.

I’ll admit that teaching is a lot harder than I imagined it would be. Laugh and call me naïve, but before I arrived I pictured a perfect world where my classes would sit attentively, take notes, and hang every word I say, because isn’t educated so widely respected in this country? I imagined that my days would end early and I’d have the rest of the day to explore my town, shop, hang out in coffee shops, and practice my Thai, because I thought I’d be in the center of a city. I imagined a class with no exams, projects or formal grading – just playing games and having conversations, because English is supposed to be fun! I imagined that my classes would love to speak English and talk to me every chance they had.

However, in my current world, most of my students chat throughout class, don’t bring a pen with them, let alone a notebook, and literally don’t understand a word I say. I’ve spent entire classes yelling at my 10th graders to “shut up and listen”, walked out of class 10 minutes early, made my 7th graders sit in silence (which lasted for about 30 seconds), and threatened all of my students with failing grades and no re-testing. I’ve given speaking tests where the students don’t even understand the question I’m asking, and I’ve had students struggle to tell me their name. I’ve given two tests and two projects, and graded my students on characteristics such as patriotism, endurance, morality, and intelligence. Oh, and I’m at school until 5pm, and spend my evenings at the gym, tutoring, and hanging out on the one road we have in town or at Tesco Lotus, because I live on an industrial estate.

BUT I watched my 10th grade Humanities class attempt to rap Eminem when I played them Lose Yourself as a listening exercise, I’ve played games with my eighth graders where everyone willingly participated, rewarded students with candy after their midterms and received the most sincere thanks, and had long, intelligent conversations with my best students. I’ve seen my students eyes light up when something finally “clicks”, I’ve seen smiles when they get an answer right, and I’ve seen my students literally jump into the air when I tell them their test grades. I’ve shared inside jokes with my students, I’ve had conversations that required no speaking, I’ve been greeted in the morning by 3rd graders yelling “Good Morning Teacha Nichole!!!!!”, and I have students who willingly raise their hands to ask and answer questions. These moments are why I love my job.

I’m at the halfway point of my semester, though, and I think I’m done teaching to the test.

I want to make connections with all of my students. I want to see all of them smile, and laugh, and participate. I want them to enjoy English! Sure, I have vocabulary and concepts I have to cover, but I’ve begun brainstorming ways to do that including games and activities and American culture. We’re going to have fun.

As far as living in Amata Nakorn… well, the situation is inevitable but I’ve learned to just live with my down time and try to fill it with productive and proactive activities. I’ve begun a 20 minute yoga un-wind session in the evenings. I’ve made a fool of myself singing at the local bar, practice my Thai by ordering coffee in a bag, and secretly love that our Isaan place knows exactly what we’ll order every time, and I secretly love the karaoke parties that occur outside of my apartment almost every night. I love my tutoring class and have learned so much from them. I’ve taken invitations to hang out with them so they can practice English while I learn some Thai, and I’ve come to appreciate my travels and time away from Amata so much more! I am working on not taking one minute for granted while I am in this place, because in just 10 short months it will be gone.

Tags: english, school, teacher, teaching, thai, thailand


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