Finally! I have somehow (I’m still figuring out how…) managed to totally wing it and survive my first term as a Teacher! And to my surprise, I have really enjoyed it. I have had a few different jobs in my time; working in retail, as a care worker and in the Film & TV industry working in Costume. But I have to say that so far, Teaching has been the most rewarding; working in Retail is awful. Full stop. Literally just awful, and working as a carer was extremely rewarding but unfortunately the hours, management and money really let it down. Having studied for years and dedicating so much time to make a career out of Costume it was a hard decision to put that on hold for a few years, if not forever. I made the decision to leave the Industry because I wanted to travel and see the world; I was tired of working long hours, tired of being tired and I was tired of the Film & TV Industry generally that I found, for me, to be very superficial and not very rewarding.
So here I am, writing a blog about being a Teacher which, if someone had told me I would be doing a few years ago, I would never have believed them. I always hated the idea of being a Teacher, and to be fair – I still do in some ways. I’m not sure I could ever teach in England and I definitely could not teach older kids (does anyone else find them intimidating or is that just me?). At the moment I have a class with 10 2 year old’s who I absolutely adore.
The main challenge I have faced is the language barrier and the different levels of English the children can speak. It’s easy to see who has been to nursery before and who has parents teaching them English at home. Some of my pupils had never spoken English before coming to Nursery and none of their family members speak it (communicating to the parents is always a struggle!) so getting them to understand my instruction can at times, be very difficult. Having said that, It’s amazing to see how much they absorb from you so quickly. All the pupils have now settled in and we have a set routine. Not every day is a good day though, there are days when the pupils don’t respond to the lesson’s very well or they are getting distracted all the time and wont listen, It’s a constant battle on days like that and it can be quite draining (especially when you have a pupil who wont stop crying). The good thing about teaching 2 year old’s, that can also be a problem, is that they copy you and they copy each other; It’s a good thing because at that age they become more aware of whats going on around them and part of the learning process if through copying; But the reason this is also a problem is because one pupil in particular likes to copy what I say; If i’m telling someone to be quiet, or sit down, or stand nicely he likes to copy me. The other issue I find is them copying each other; if one starts jumping on the bed at nap time about 3 others will start doing it. I find myself constantly telling them to stop jumping on the bed! (One part of teaching I struggle with is not laughing. Quite often the children will do something naughty or silly, that is actually quite funny, but as I need to tell them off I have to keep my poker face!).
Because of the language barrier I have naturally picked up a little bit more Thai from the children which has helped me to communicate with them in order for them to learn what that word means in English. Technically you are not allowed to speak Thai at school but for the first few weeks I found I had to otherwise they had no clue what I was saying! Some key words and phrases I have learnt are;
“Ngiiap” – Quiet!
“Nang-Long” – Sit down!
“Bpuuat-chii” – Pee pee
“U u” – Poo poo.
“Mai” – You add to the end of a word to make it a question; “U u mai?” (Poo poo?)
The working hours at the school, compared to my previous job are absolutely amazing. Every morning before the school day starts everyone gathers to sing the Thai National Anthem and raise the Thai flag*. My Pupil’s arrive at 8.30 and have left by 2.30; I leave school at 4pm and am generally home within half an hour. When I first started work I found myself not knowing what to do with myself in the evenings, but It didn’t take long for me to get used to it. When the Sun is out (which doesn’t seem that often at the moment, bring on the dry season) I can go to the swimming pool, sometimes I go into town, to the gym, the cinema or just chill out at home. I have joined a netball team on Monday evenings which initially, I didn’t actually like and only joined for social reasons but now I find myself enjoying it and look forward to it every week.
For the October half term we initially only had 1 week off, however, it was announced earlier in the year that all schools would have to close for 1 week from Mon 23rd for the late Kings cremation, meaning we now have 2 weeks off (hurrah!). It has been a whole year since the King died and the anniversary of his death was on Friday 13th October which meant we had that day off work. For the month of October we have been advised to wear somber colours and dress modestly, keep any leisurely activities and entertainment to a minimum and all Thai websites are now in black and white. The cinema has very minimal showings and some places are not serving alcohol. On the week beginning 23rd October events will be running all week for the buildup to the Kings cremation on Friday 26th October. On this day, most shops will be closed, including supermarkets and some public transport will be free in order for people to attend the Kings cremation in the evening. We have been advised to leave the city for that week as there will be not much to do, and incredibly busy and intense in town. So now its half term and I am off to the South of Thailand visiting a beautiful island called Koh Phi Phi for a week on Monday, and then to Khao Yai – a national park 2 hours north of Bangkok for the second week. I cant bloody wait!
Koh Phi Phi and Khao Yai ❤
*(at 8am and 6pm everyday the National Anthem is played, and it is expected, when out in public, to stop what you are doing and stand silently, and at the end bow you head to show respect. When you go to the cinema, before every film, the National Anthem is played and again, you must stand up to show your respect).
**All photos I have attached have come from the schools FB page and Website (not my own personal images…).