Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Teaching in Thailand

This place can sure jump up and down on your last good nerve! I just read a comment in one of the ex-pat forums I belong to concerning a new teachers troubles in class. I can surely sympathize with him. It goes like this...

"Have any of you people been having the same discipline problems I have had over the past month or so for Mathayom students? These problems include eating in class, excessive loud taking between students when the teacher is speaking, talking on cellphones and listening to music with headphones, boys wearing caps in class, sleeping, horseplay, and doing homework from other classes? Excessive loud talking, horseplay, and sleeping in class are the most chronic problems. Occasionally I raise my voice in English (almost yelling) and then follow it with my best Thai trying to explain why these kinds of behavior are detrimental to the class. Things will be better for a few minutes, but after a short while the chronic misbehavior continues......"

It goes on. That's Thailand. These little monsters routinely do things we would never have even thought of doing in class. And when you fuss at them about it, they just look at you and give you that dumb ass sheepish smile that means they couldn't care less about what you are saying. it was the responses to that teachers letter that made me laugh though. Here's a few....

1. "Heed this warning, its so fucking true. I don't have aproblem with M5 anymore due to losing my rag big time at certain individuals, only had to do it once in each class, not saying this is the correct way to go about things but it worked for me. M1 are more of a problem, losing the plot doesn't do it, especially when u have a class of 60. They talk, I sit down at my desk, after 2minutes of staring at the little fecks they shut up and the lesson commences."

2. "First of all, do not raise your voice but lower it - almost to a whisper! How does this work? The 'good' students will start 'policing' your class with "Shh! Mr prkeuhn is talking!" They seem to take more notice of their peers."

3. "You will always have discipline problems for these two reasons: first, you are a foreigner, therefore you are a lower form of life. Second, all the students know they will pass your class no matter what grade you give them. They also know that, percentage-wise, the class you teach is worth slightly less than the sewing class they had to take last term. Sorry if this sounds mean, but it's reality."

4. "They're all part of the regular scenery for me too. The second dimension to this is the children going to their Thai teacher complaining about the foreign teacher when they get disciplined. The Thai teachers then help the child with the nasty foreigner and take their side.

Result: the children know they can wriggle out of being held accountable for their actions by going to the Thai teacher.

The solution: accept it or move to a school with a support system for teachers and a philosophy that believes in accountability."

This was the best one

5. Teaching in Thailand - "Common sense will prevail in Thailand only when all other options have been exhausted."
It's a hoot here. The administration will not install any sort of disciplinary system, because if they do, then the students parents may pull them out of that school, and the school losses money. (So True!)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It finally happened....

Ok, there are about a million things that can go wrong in the classroom. But, I think losing an entire class has to be one of the top 10 no-no's. Every chance I get, I take the kids outside to do their work. The classrooms are hot and boring. I took my P-6/1 class outside to do an activity, but 2 of the picnic tables are not under trees, and very hot. So I told some of the kids that they could go over to the pavilion to work. This left me with about 10 kids.

About 10 minutes later, I looked up and noticed that there was a full class at the pavilion, and they weren't mine. I asked my ace student, Manow, to go see what was up, because that teacher doesn't speak any English. She came back and said that they told the kids to go back to the classroom. That was fine, but after going to the classroom, I discovered that they weren't there. Please keep in mind, that all this time, the boss is lurking about. I sent out search parties of my most trusted students, but all scouting reports came back negative. At about 20 after 3pm, It was time for the kids to go back to their room, for their last class. I told the kids I still had to head back. About that time, here came the lost sheep. When asked where they had disappeared too, I got only smiles and giggles. I have no idea where the little shits got off to for 45 minutes. Manow won't even tell me where they went. She swears she doesn't know. Hmmmm!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The weekend we raided Koh Samed Island

One nice thing about living in Thailand, is that no matter how broke you are, you can always find some affordable place to go on a 4 day weekend. To celebrate the new year (and to get the hell out of dogpatch for a few days) we took Palmy and her friend Mah down to Rayong and to Koh Samed island. They are about 4.5 hours south of us on the coast. It was very relaxing. The beaches are fairly clean, and it's not one of the hot tourist destinations, so it wasn't that crowded. Thats Roong on one of the beaches on Koh Samed island.

This pic was taken from the boat going over to Koh Samed island. It's a shot of the port as we were leaving. Rayong is a fishing port.

Roong and I waiting for the boat.

This is Roong figuring out what to order to eat on the beach. The beach is lined with these little mom and pop restaurant shacks. You can sit under the umbrellas and eat and drink all day long. The woman in pink runs the little cookery and took great care of us.

This is a shot of one of the beaches at Rayong. I am sorry it's a bit fuzzy.

This is one of the beaches on Koh Samed island. The island is filled with outdoor restaurants and party spots. It's nice though, and not trashy like the Pattaya beach nightclubby scene. It's a bit more expensive to stay on the island overnight, but for a few days, it's worth it.

This is Palmy and her friend Mah. And gee golly looky, they are giving the mandatory goofy Asian schoolgirl peace sign! Yeesh! They had a blast eating and playing in the ocean. They downed a few wine coolers and shot fireworks off on the beach later that night. I think Palmy ended up with her first hangover. Haaa!

Ok, now let's get to the important stuff! FOOD! The seafood is great there. If you go there in the morning, you can watch the boats catching your lunch while you sit there. The seafood was a bit pricey on the beach, but in the regular restaurants it wasn't. It's worth the price to just sit there in the breeze on the beach and have those huge ass prawns and a cold beer delivered to you.

Just me sitting on a rock.