Monthly Archives: May 2013

New School Year

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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

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Assistant head Teacher Wa

 

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Newbies all behaving and filling in the worksheet

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New building not finished and the students doing aerobics during assembly

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Categories: Exploring Thailand, Teaching Thailand- Government School, Teaching Thailand- Private School | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Home is where the heart is…

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My “home home” as I like to call it, will always be Khandala Gardens, at least until my parents move out, [or I officially do – like move EVERYTHING from my room, which as my friends know will be a huge task and will probably never happen] but after living in Thailand for 8 months, it’s also become a home.

I’m back to my little town at an address I don’t even have except it’s known as San Fan Resort in Khaochaison, next to the hot springs. Even though my road is long and windy, it’s a back road and as far as I can tell it doesn’t have a name. (My post is sent to the council offices of the town.)

And being back here, and already starting school again seems like my time at “home home” was just a dream. What a fantastic dream though! I did nothing much out of the ordinary, spent time with friends, family, went to Cheltenham to see my extended family, and enjoyed every day life, making the most of being in the UK again! And planning new adventures for October. I was there for 3 weeks only and I advise anyone making the trip back to take longer holidays! I definitely needed a week longer, I was saying my goodbyes before I’d even finished my hellos it felt like. And I cried at the airport leaving. My luggage etc was ready but my heart wasn’t. I’d spent so long looking forward to returning home and counting down the days that I hadn’t given any thought on returning, except it being a little way off, and it came round sooo quickly.

Incase you didn’t guess already this post is going to be all sentimental.

Returning home and coming back out here again made me realise how much support I have from friends and family. My parents have always encouraged me to travel and have never held me back from fulfilling dreams, even when I was 18 and went to Sri Lanka by myself to work with elephants for 3 months! They knew it’s something I had always wanted to do and made it possible for me. This time round they are always on facebook, skype etc keeping in regular contact, and sending things in the post that I can’t find out here. Also mum was keeping count of the days until I was back home too. (And has already worked out when I will next see them, this time in Thailand, in 20 weeks tomorrow.)

Also friends have been fab, always keeping in contact and taking time off work at home to spend more time with me, and helping out such as cooking roast dinners and picking me up. I realise how lucky I am, knowing that everyone back home is eager to hear about my adventures and looks forward to seeing me (whether I’m at home or they come here to visit!) It makes life away a lot easier, as I am still part of their lives, and they are in mine, we’re just separated a bit by a few thousand miles (8,765 according to google maps – Portsmouth to Phattalung.)

I want to end on a happy note and I’ve been seeing lots of quotes recently – this one means the most to me and is written by Mark Twain;

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do rather than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour and catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t come out here in the first place, and so it was definitely the right decision! Making the decision to stay longer just means i love it here and it’s time for more adventures (or teaching…)

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Welcome home Roast with friends, cooked by Ryan, Chantal and Prawn.

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Catch up meal with Louise and Paul

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Catch up dinner with Jayne

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Paul and I train journey to london

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In the O2 arena in London with Chantal

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Goodbye meal with friends

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Goodbye meal with Mum and Dad

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