Well I can’t believe that I have completed a school year as an English Language teacher! One thing I will say about teaching is it is easy…..If you don’t care! If you care it’s hard, not the teaching itself but getting the students to learn.
As many of my friends and people who know me will agree that I’m a messer and a joker! I don’t act like I’m 30 that’s for sure! That being said discipline and respect are important to me. I was actually a very mischievous teenager in school (shock horror) I wasn’t bad but I was cheeky and I did go through a time of resisting authority but I believe that was because of lack of respect for me as a student by certain teachers.
Fast forward to Thailand and im the teacher….wow! Now one of my closest and oldest friends Ceili is a teacher back home and the stories I hear of some students is shocking. Thai students are nothing like students of the same age at home! There is respect (and a small healthy amount of fear) I believe undoubtedly that it is to do with Buddhism and the Thai way of life. Respect for elders is very important.
My students I believe (even though they loved me) didnt have the respect for me as they do the Thai teachers, because they aren’t afraid of me (even though on various occasions I’ve threatened to elbow them…….seriously if anyone actually observed me teaching haha). My big MASSIVE mistake when I started was not laying down ground rules, classroom rules! And I got to a point in my first semester that I was taking things too personally like I was so pissed off at some students who I had a great relationship with take the fecking piss! And now, I’m not talking about anything bad, things like tardiness and using their telephone as in answering their phone and having a conversation right in front of me WTF!
But that being said they were good they were told off and phones confiscated etc.
So a little bit about Thai government high schools. Lots of students! There are 6 years Matthayom 1-6, 11-18 year olds. Each year is spilt into 12 classes, 1 being the brightest students and 12 being the more …..academically challenged. 1 being really eager well behaved students……12 being a bunch of little bleeding feckers!!! That being said there are certain classes that specialise in things I.e. English, Japanese and Chinese that students have specifically signed up for so they are multi-level classes. I taught a Mini English program to 3 classes Matthayom 1/7, 2/7 and 3/7. At first my 3/7 were a breathe of fresh air, they mostly had a great level of understanding and I could properly communicate with alot of them. I really enjoyed teaching them, I had to be really prepared for their classes as they did their work they all wanted high grades and were very concerned with their scores. But these were the ones who started taking liberties showing up 20 minutes late for my classes!! I was livid they even did it on their last ever class with me! I deducted points from their final grades and some who would usually get a grade 4 (highest grade) got a 3 or 3.5. They asked me then was there anything they could do to change their grade! I told them that this was their punishment/lesson if they can always do something to increase their grade they will learn nothing! This way I believe they will be better behaved for their new teacher next year!
In Thailand students don’t fail! As in if they fail they have to resit tests and do extra work to pass! It’s bad I mean if you can technically never fail and you are not worried about your grade …..well what life lessons is that teaching? That’s why I would give low grades to students who did care but didn’t deserve higher, my way of showing that you can’t get want you want always.
It was also suprising the amount of lady boys within the students. Most of them were in M5/6 obviously older and coming in to themselves! It’s totally accepted and embraced here, any excuse to dress up and boys have the makeup and clothes on, and everyone loves it. There were also alot of gay students which again seems totally accepted! It’s amazing really the difficult and awful times some teenagers go through back home identifying with themselves. But here its embraced now of course I don’t see everything and im not fluent in thai but bullying in my school particularly didn’t seem to be a major issue, and especially of lady boys I doubt that ever happened.
So my M1 class well they were hard work at first their English was really bad, like really bad but as the year went on I saw many of them excel! A bonus to being….me haha was they loved me, the look of me! I’m soo white, blonde hair etc! They were always telling me I was beautiful etc and that they loved me. So cute even the boys here were never shy to say that they thought you were pretty or looked nice. The boys in M1 were a bit of a nightmare they were mischievous! 3 ended up leaving after the first term. But there were a couple that just had no interest in learning English, which was such a waste they were signed up for (and paid money) to be in this program I just thought what a waste when there would be other students who would love to be in the program. But a few of them really tried and progressed throughout the year. Their classroom was in the back building of school (I’d drive my bike down there) they were on the top floor and would always wait and look out over the balcony for me! ‘TEACHER!! TEACHER!!’ waving everyday which I thought was well cute! Some of the boys started calling me by my name (in school it’s; Teacher, Teacher Kelly or the Thai’s are Ajarn ) I.E. Hi Kelly!! I was like eeehhhh im not your mate!!! Teacher Kelly!!! Haha.
M2 well they were my biggest class 36 students and actually had an even amount of boys and girls! And suprising the boys were the best! Always did their work and their English was better than most of the others in the class! I had the most laughs with my M2 boys I would mess and slag them all the time we had a good rapport going on. The girls were VERY chatty! Although there were a handleful who knew their stuff their level of English was bad, they wouldn’t pay attention and copied each others work! That being said the whole class passed their final exams in comparison to the first term when around 20 failed!!!! It was a great turnaround, a massive improvement!
M3 other than their tardiness were a great class! I could really communicate and chat with them. Only 8 boys in the class, 2 who were very good and studeous and the rest girls. One of the girls is the girlfriend of Ley one of the Thai fighters (who currently trains me) she’s a quiet girl but would have his name written all over her stuff which would make me laugh!! One girl in particular Benz was such a little dote I really liked her and she’s one who will definitely do well for herself in the future! My M3 girls in particular were ‘obsessed’ with my skin! Like I taught them every single day haha but they went on about it all the time.
Its just so different here like can you remember the shock horror humiliation, embarrassment if you saw a teacher outside of school!! OMG OMG there’s Mr what’s his face etc whereas here I know its a novelty to have a foreign teacher here in the country especially, but I see the students speaking to Thai teachers as well! If they saw me they would ask me what I’m doing where I’m going and I’d ask them as well it was cool to talk to them outside the classroom and hear their English.
In the 2nd term I taught conversation classes to 5 classez in M2. 2/1, 2/3, 2/5, 2/9 and 2/12 on top of my English program. Man if I could teach any /1 class everyday it would be amazing haha. They were so good and extremely eager I taught them last period on a Thursday 3:30 which I hated lol but they were very good students. Don’t. …even get me started on 2/12!!!!! Sweet jasus it made me so thankful that I was teaching an English program to students who wanted to learn! Some of these classes were up to 45 students complete nightmare and little shites now I must say!!
In the Foreign Language Department I had the nicest colleagues I’ve ever worked with!! I will really miss working in a department with Thai’s I learnt so much from them about food and culture, and they were always on hand to help me! Now there were a few times ya know ‘do you have your tests done?’ Eh what tests?? ‘Mid terms’ eeh when are they? ‘Next week’. WTF!?? No one told me!!! haha I was the last to know everything but I survived! The only thing I hated was having to sit in school meetings that were sometimes 2 hours long all in Thai! I just thought it was ridiculous so in the end I’d go sign my name and leave!! I was the only native speaking teacher in the school. There were 4 Phillipino teachers as well. But a lovely bunch of teachers. Wisan would nearly every day give me food eggs, bananas, milk all sorts haha it was great. He’s a really funny man but a scary teacher! Saw him one day cutting the hair of 3 lads lol. Pattinee is who hired me and is such a lovely lovely person they all were, I never felt like I was a spare part and they would always ask my advice and help on things…..which I never knew the answer hahaha.
Thai’s love their food and they eat alot so there was always fruit and different things to eat everyday! Dishes I would probably never try! So you know obviously I love food so I knew I was going to get on great with these folks haha. They were also great and supportive of my fighting, let me have days off etc which was really cool.
On thing I really didn’t like was working Christmas! I’m a big Christmas head I love everything about it just eating loads of yummy food and watching movies with the family, I really missed them and I hope I will be home for a holiday next Christmas! !
The only bad thing about the whole experience was my agency! Live and learn! What a shower of arseholes the ONLY thing they did was pay me, but sometimes not on time. I was in tears a few times because of their incompetence. I came to Thailand with savings to last but by the time I started working that was well gone! I’m an adult and take care of myself but if I didnt get paid id basically …..be fucked!! A few really shit times but again the school and the lovely administration lady Narrissa helped me so much!
But country life has worn on me slightly and where the thoughts of leaving Sitmonchai makes me sick, change is good and well i need to earn more money! So I’m moving to Bangkok I managed to postpone it as much as I could but left myself in a bit of a tight spot financially, it should be fine though and as long as (hopefully) I get a couple of fights in before I move! I’m going to be a Kindergarten teacher! Big change but I believe ill be well suited to it! Plus the hours are great for training etc.
So I survived and im onto a new chapter in my Thai life! Kelly and Tigger’s adventures in Bangkok! Watch this space lol 🙂