As of today (technically yesterday, but let’s not get pedantic) I am unemployed. Yep. 4 and a half whole months have passed since I began teaching at Raj Pracha Samasai Pratthom School. Can you believe it? I know the time has flown right? Now I’m a free woman for all of October; I’m counting the hours (16 1/2) until I can haul my turtle’s shell onto my back and begin my month long adventure; don’t worry, I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop, it will almost be like you’re here- unless of course you’re Clive- Joe’s dad, Evie- Joe’s sister or Megan- my BFF, in that case….you will actually be here.
During my first term of teaching, I can throw my hands up in the air and say; I am a better teacher now than when I first started, which is all a teacher can ask for really. I’ve made some mistakes, there have been days where I have dreaded going in- usually Fridays, if any of my Friday students are reading this, and seeing as they can’t read I’m very much doubting they are..but just in case, I HATE you! I’ve been thrown in the deep end, I’ve learnt lessons and there are things I wish I could have told my 4 month younger, brighter eyed, more alert self.
1. Just fall in love with the kids already
I know you were holding back, I know you were trying to set the ground rules, I know you were trying to tell them who’s boss and I know their behaviour was testing you….but fall in love with them anyway. I will always cherish my time spent with my students- the little ones especially; they’re eyes lit up as I walked down the hall, they’d scream my name down the corridors, they’d hug me, they’d kiss me- one class half way through the term started calling my mummy, which unfortunately stuck. If there’s one thing I regret it’s not appreciating them sooner, I love their snotty noses, talcum powder faces and sticky hands and I will miss seeing them every day.
2. You can do this
You were nervous, that’s expected. After your first few classes you were unsure of yourself, of your abilities. I wish you’d have gone into the toilet, taken a few deep breaths and told yourself you can do this….because you could, you did. It took a long time to while to be truly comfortable, to feel completely at ease- this should have occurred a lot sooner.
3. It’s okay if some don’t want to get involved
If you’d have spent more attention on the kids who did want to play, draw, sing and dance you would have had a much easier life. Some students are shy, some are self- conscious and some have zero interest in whatever you’re doing or English itself…and that’s okay. Really, I know you don’t want any man left behind but if they’re quiet and behaving then leave them to colour in a picture, leave them to copy from the board. Just get on with it.
4. You are not their friend, you’re their teacher
Some students will test you, some will disrespect you and some will break the rules- that is okay. Don’t feel guilty because you put a child in the naughty corner, don’t break when they cry- they’re crocodile tears, don’t falter when they seem mad at you, when they whine because they want a sticker. You are doing your job, you’re not there to be their best friend you are their teacher. Trust me on this one, the work you’re doing now will reward you tenfold in a few weeks when the devils transform to little angels.
5. Not everything will go to plan
Sometimes the students won’t understand your lessons, sometimes the workbooks will be too difficult for them, sometimes you will have to think on your feet, rearrange thoughts in your head, sometimes you will need to look at things in a different light, from a different point of view, from a different angle. Stop stressing, calm down and breathe. You will eventually get through to them, their English levels will increase rapidly because you’re a good teacher. Stop being such a control freak and let it all go, Mai Bpen Rai- this is Thailand.
Teaching at Raj Pracha Samasai was the definition of getting thrown in at the deep end; I had no thai assistant teacher to help with discipline, my students were relentless at first, the head of English only speaks said language a tiny bit, I had no curriculum to work with, the textbooks were far too advanced for the kids, I had little resources…I could go on forever. BUT, 4 months later I feel as if I was given a golden opportunity, a sort of advantage to other teachers. It was either learn to swim or sink and die and I put on my arm bands and started kicking for my life. Now, I feel as if I could do anything, I could work in any school, I could take on any challenge, I could teach any subject and I would be okay; because I’ve already done the worst of the worst, I’ve danced with the devil and made it through the other side. I’ve loved my job where past teachers have hated it, I’ve fallen in love with my kids where past teachers have ran screaming from them. It’s my most proud achievement, I conqured Raj Pracha Samasai and have lived to tell the tale. Amazing.
Here are some photos of my sweet students; don’t let them fool you, they can be monsters at times.