Life as a teacher so far
I am now officially half way through my first week as a teacher. It all started two days ago- it was another hot humid Monday morning here in Lat Krabang, Bangkok. We were up at 6:15 am in order to be ready and waiting down stairs for our 7am departure. There are three of us from my complex who teach at the school called Marialai. We all gathered down at reception at roughly 6:50 am and awaited the arrival of the guides from our agent. They were to show us the route to school as well as around the school and even help out during our classes. These guides have been amazing and show the type of care and support that our agent provides and for that we not only thank them but also recommend the agency to anybody wanting to do their TEFL course in Bangkok.
The route to school involves catching the No. 1013 bus for about 20 minutes. Once at our stop we then have a rather scenic 1 km walk to the school. This walk takes us through a little food market alley and over a canal onto a much smaller path surrounded by house and little restaurants. We now frequent these restaurants during our lunch breaks.
The bridge over the canal (on our walk to school)
The houses and little restaurants we go to for lunch
The actually school is huge; it provides classes for kids aged from 3 through to 18 years old and so has a total of 4000 students. This was a complete shock for me as my school only numbered about 1500 students in total. Upon arrival at the school we met a couple of the local Thai teachers and were welcomed to the school. We were told that every day when we arrive and leave school we have to sign in and out; this is for a number of reasons but mainly so that we can get paid haha. After finding and signing our names we were lead to our office, by which I mean the room for all the foreign English teachers at the school. In total there are about 8 of us with 4 from Africa, 2 from America, 1 from England and 1 from the Philippines. There are also 2 local Thai teachers who teach the English grammar sections. Our office is a rather social area, all the teachers are very friendly and chatty with the more experienced teachers giving us some useful tips for use in the classroom.
A view of our school
View across the fields to the school building
Now, I am teaching P3, 4 and 5 this is pretty much the equivalent of grade 3, 4, 5 for the people back home in SA. Each grade has a number of classes but I only teach 2 per grade, for example I teach P3/1 and P3/2. At first I thought this wasn’t very much, but boy was I wrong. So my first class as a proper teacher did not go according to plan AT ALL – in fact it was a huge disaster. When teaching a P3/2 class, the first thing that shocked me was the number of students in the class – there must have been about 50 of them. I had a plan for the class, an introduction class (or so I thought), and so I began by introducing myself, where I’m from as well as my favourite superhero (as the kids are 6/7 years old). Now although this sounds easy and simple enough, I can assure you it is not!! It’s like trying to coach kids to play water polo, but they can’t swim and only understand Xhosa – pretty much Mission Impossible 3 haha. So although I had a plan for the lesson it was impossible to follow, whenever I tried to get one kid to say something or answer a question the other 40+ students just began chatting and doing other stuff. I found it really difficult to capture the attention of the entire class while still focusing on individual students and making sure they were correctly saying and pronouncing the English sentences. The rest of the day followed along these tragic lines with all the class being very hard to control. I must admit, there were a number of times when I thought I would not be able to continue doing this. The look on my face at the end of the day must have shown exactly that as all the teachers began offering a number of tips and positive comments. I did the mature thing and wrote down all their tips and let their positive comments try and change my outlook on the day. School finishes at about 3:30pm but we are only allowed to leave at 4pm; it seems that during this half an hour we all just kind of sit around and chat about the day and the experiences we had.
So once we arrived home I set to work on my new lesson plans for day 2. These lesson plans included all the tips and comments I was given by the teachers and after completing the plans I must say I was feeling slightly better about my position. And so day 2 began with the same routine but with slightly less optimism on my behalf haha. Tuesdays are actually a good day for me on paper as I have the first and last lessons of the day off, which means I teach a total of 4 lessons. After signing in we headed to our office to do some last minute prep and get our things in order. It seems that I am the only one to have the first lesson off and so I was left alone in the office to stew with my nerves for an hour. But I can happily say that day two was 500 times better then day one. I would attribute this to the tips and ideas given to me by the other teachers. The kids really loved the songs and games I had included in the class. I started every class with a type of warm up song where the kids had to listen and follow the actions stated in the song, this worked really well and all the kids partook with great enthusiasm. The rest of the class consisted of a couple reading exercises and some role playing before ending with another song game. The kids really enjoyed this and seeing them having fun and partaking in the class really helped to boost my own enthusiasm and confidence within the classroom. The rest of the day continued in this fashion with all the class being a success which resulted in me leaving each class with more and more confidence.
I am now sitting here having just finished prepping for my third day of class with a feeling of excitement, happiness and confidence. If the rest of the week continues in this manner I shall be the happiest person in Bangkok; it seems like the teaching profession does agree with me after all haha. And for anybody reading this and thinking of possibly coming over to teach here, do not be put off by my bad experience – it was after all the first day on the job and as I have said, it turned around completely on day two. This whole experience really is something I highly recommend to anybody thinking of taking a gap year or even beginning a teaching career. You will have a fantastic time.
Thank you all for reading