So, the reason I had so long off (6 weeks) and didn’t blog as much was because it was the summer holidays here in Thailand (From end of March to middle of May.) I used that time to travel the North of Thailand (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pai) and experience Thai new Year- Songkran, as well as return to the UK for 3 weeks.
Now I’m back and school classes started again on Wednesday 15th May. Everyone was excited for the new school year (I guess the kids didn’t really do much in the holidays, I don’t think most of them are wealthy enough to have a holiday away from town, so they were probably bored by now of holidays!) And excitement was in the air for all the new students starting Pratom 1. Most of these students has been going to nursery but none had attended “school” before, and had never gone through the whole process that is assembly, so all the parents watched on with concerned faces to make sure their children behaved and didn’t get too upset.
I started school at 7am at the gates, welcoming the students back with “Good Morning” and Wai-ing at them all. The school had prepared a gold archway and a banner that also welcomed the students to the Tesaban Khaochaison School. Assembly took place for over 40 minutes, where the students have to stand in lines according to classes, split boy/girl. For the babies to stand in a straight line seemed difficult, but all the nursery teachers were there to guide them.
After assembly, where it was so hot, and so long, a few of the children actually fainted (3) I went upstairs to receive my new teaching timetable. I was expecting more hours because the old year 6 class was only 1, as we only had 12 students in Pratom 6, but we had 3 classes worth of newbies coming up!
However I actually have less hours. I now only have 12 hours a week teaching time (before it was 13 – this doesn’t sound a lot I know, but I still have to prepare lessons and be in school from 7.30-4ish every day.) The school had decided to shake things up a little, and I’m not convinced its for the best. I’ll explain..
In my school there are 12 normal sized classrooms and 1 smaller classroom. Last term that worked perfectly as there were 12 classes with 40ish pupils and 1 class of 12 pupils. Everyone fit. During last term a new building was being erected in the playground, but this building is still not finished, it doesn’t even have walls yet, so all the new students (3 classes worth) had nowhere to move to. Last term I was told they would have rooms that are spare in the secondary school, (which is just behind our school) so it would just be a short walk to teach the newbies!
However over the summer they came up with a new plan. In year 3,2 and 1 there were 3 classes in each year. They’ve decided to split the 3rd class and merge the students with classes 1 and 2. This means there are now about 60 kids in both classes of years 1,2, and 3.
To me that seems crazy. They also don’t seem to have taken into account students grade levels, and have been mixed randomly (before class 3 were the lower ability, whereas 1 were the highest, so I now have mixed highest and lowest in one class which to me makes no sense at all.) Just to make it more fun they’ve changed the students round in years 4 and 5 too, though no-one has told me why.
Due to all these changes, the year 3 and 2 classes were really hard to teach this week. On one hand I had my fave students (class 2/2, now 3/2) doing brilliantly, filling out the worksheet, and then trying to tell me about their holidays. They wanted my attention so they could tell me about the animals in Songkhla Zoo, which made me smile so much they were so eager, but unfortunately i didn’t have time. With over 60 students, some very low ability, I had to show them how to do each tiny part of the worksheet, where getting them to write their name is an effort, as well as all the students calling “Teacher Teacher” at me to check they are doing it right. Luckily theres no naughty kids in that class, just some people that struggle.
In the other class where there are naughty kids however the whole class was a nightmare. When it came to worksheet time the boys were running around, shouting, ripping other peoples worksheets up etc. The girls really wanted to learn and I felt like such a crap teacher, as i was spending all my time trying to get the boys to sit down and write something, then over the other side someone else would misbehave, then a girl would cry because a boy ripped her work. When theres only 1 teacher to 60 kids its impossible to control them when they’re all hyped up, or give the right amount of attention to the students who deserve it. I tried shouting over the noise but you couldn’t even hear me. I did have some students who persevered and finished, but most had empty screwed up sheets by the end of the lesson. I realise I cannot cope or continue with a class like that, so on Monday morning I will be asking for help. If anyone has any suggestions, please leave a comment!
Luckily my newbies are a joy to teach. Theres 60odd in each class, but both were so well behaved. I think because they had never had a foreign teacher before, or even an English lesson, they were super intrigued by it all. It also helped I had an assistant, and was given a microphone. I feel a bit silly with a microphone i have to say, and I didn’t end up using it as they were so well behaved i didn’t need to raise my voice etc. We played catch with the ball and when they caught it, they stood up and said “My name is…” Such a simple game that was really effective. They all giggle because their throwing skills are not the best, and people miscatch or the ball hits someone by accident (its a soft ball, so no-one gets hurt, it’s just funny.) I then had them do an alphabet worksheet. When they completed this they came up to my desk and received a shiny coloured star sticker. The first girl who finished had the star on her work and literally sat for a full 5 minutes at her desk turning her paper from side to side so the sticker caught the light, with the hugest grin on her face. It was so cute, and this is why I love teaching!
Towards the end of the lessons the littlest students were just standing next to my desk with their stickered worksheets just so they can grin at me, i think they just wanted to be close to me so i practised them telling me their nicknames again in the hope i remember some soon (eek.)
Director Panida and I
Assistant head Teacher Wa
Newbies all behaving and filling in the worksheet
New building not finished and the students doing aerobics during assembly