Ok so after all that complaining about having to make so many trips to Bangkok and Laos and just wanting to chill at home, this weekend I’m off again… Sneaky weekend trip to Bangkok as one of my best friends happens to be making an impromptu trip over. Hey, why not. I’m a working girl now, I can afford it – or more to the point, she’s worth it.
So yesterday was my first day of teaching Pre-kindergarten at one of the top International Schools in Chiang-Mai. I was more excited than nervous, after all the classes are 30 minutes each and the kids are 2-4 years old… How hard can it be? At least if I fall on my face and the kids run riot then all i have to do is just survive for 30 minutes. That was my mentality anyway.
I got to school half an hour before my first lesson, and was shown to the staff office and left to my own devices. Luckily this school has a fully stocked props, flashcards and stationary supply (plus anything else you can ask or think of) so I could throw away my tacky homemade and pencilled coloured flashcards and upgrade to some better quality printed and laminated ones. I’d preloaded all my songs and videos on my trusty iPad, and I just had to hope and pray the little ankle biters wouldn’t snatch and grab and ruin my most precious possession.
Turns out I had nothing to worry about, each airconditioned classroom has computers with Internet and these kids are so well behaved its ridiculous. I could never imagine 10-15 young aged students like these sitting quietly and patiently whilst I set up my music, and then just sitting and watching. It’d be a zoo in a Pre-kindergarten class back in Australia, and I don’t know if I could ever sign up for a job like that! Most of the kids were interested in learning and were either already familiar with the words or could pick them up quickly, so they made my job easy. A couple were tired and bored after 3 weeks of school holidays, and 2 students just clung to the Thai helpers and sobbed the whole time. First time away from Mum & Dad, alright… I’ll let you off today kidlets.
The easy part about my job is I teach the first class of students one target language, and then move to the second classroom and teach the next group the same thing… 2 classes, half the work. Too easy. I finished at 10am, clocked off (Thailand still uses those old school “punch the clock” systems, I’ve never actually used one in my life but it’s such a novelty) and checked my Facebook and went home – This first day on the job after 10 months holiday ain’t looking so tough after all!
I went home and started work on the following days lesson plans, as I’d been given my curriculum that day – what I’m supposed to teach the students for the next 6 months – a sheet of paper less than half a page listing 10 target aims like “numbers 1-10″ and “say the alphabet”. That’s it. I asked one of the other English teachers (3 out of 5 of us are Aussies, I’m starting to think this is maybe why I got the job) if the cirriculum is strictly monitored and is perfection expected, and I was pretty much told as long as the kids are having fun and can spit out a couple of words in English, it’s no problem. It’s very laid back, do what you want… Lots of arts and crafts, singing and playing. This, I can do.
Today’s lessons went even better, now the kids recognize me and it’s not all “stranger danger” when the farang lady walks in the room – I even managed to get yesterday’s criers to participate and everyone had a good time. On Tuesday’s and Thursday’s my schedule says I’m supposed to have an extra class as well, so I prepared 2 x lesson plans last night, thinking I’d have to come up with something awesome to keep them interested and I was a little concerned they would be bored of me by then, but guess what? My extra lessons on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s are simply playing in the sand pit with the kids. I don’t even need to supervise, the team of ever-present Thai handlers are there taking care of any sharing issues, any tears or wet nappies, and I just get to literally, play in the sand. It was actually my favourite part of the job I already love, because the kids got to see me play with them and be fun, they were in hysterical laugh fits at every little sound effect I made and were so proud to tell me their name in English and were all calling “Miss Belle, Miss Belle!” to get me to play with them. Not a bad way to earn a baht.