My day went a little like this...
I spent the first hour or so in the teachers room, which houses the desks of roughly two dozen English teachers. I went through my desk to find that the teacher before me left a ton of flashcards and materials behind. A welcomed treat, but also a mess to rummage through. I also had stacks of worksheets provided by the school, enough to cover my full semester of teaching, Imagine, I have 11 classes of about 25 students, that I meet with twice each week. Each meeting we do a worksheet. The semester runs from November to mid-March. I'm not even going to try to do the math, but needless to say the worksheets covered the whole of my desk top in roughly 2-3 foot high piles. That was also fun to go through. But I didn't have a chance to do much before I was off to my observation classes with a lovely Thai woman named Teacher Melissa. She is kind of my mentor, and I couldn't be luckier because she is the sweetest thing and knows everything!
My first class I spent sitting to the side simply watching Melissa. I realized pretty quickly that I needed to learn some kiddie song and chants quick because these kids loved them! At one point, about 10 minutes into class the cutest little girl, with braided, loopy pigtails, came in the room crying. Not making a scene, just quietly mewling. The Thai teacher rushed her around and sat her down but this girl was just not happy. Melissa told me that she was upset about leaving her mother. I was supposed to only be observing so I did nothing, just smiled at the girl and tried to get her to smile back, but she was not having it. The Thai teacher and Melissa did not have the time to deal with her so she was just left on her own to wonder miserably. I guess since she sensed that no one else was paying attention she came over to me, wrapped her arms around my legs and cried into my skirt. I knelt down and she leaned in and cried on my shoulder. It was heartbreaking! After a few minutes I tried talking to her. I'm not sure how much she actually understood, probably nothing, but I got her to dry up and then walked her to her seat while the others did their worksheet. It took much more prodding, but eventually, near the end of class she finally joined in with the other students.
In my second observed class the kids had a lot more energy. They immediately took to me, calling "teacher teacher!" and showing me their worksheets. There was one boy in class that started jumping all over me at one point, totally unruly, and a couple of the other kids followed suit. It took the rest of the class for me to pry him off and get him to sit and behave. Melissa explained that this boy was the son of one of the richest families in Thailand. He acts the way he does because the Thai teachers are afraid to discipline him. They are afraid they could lose their jobs! I'm not sure how I will deal with this moving forward, but I will have to figure out something. He is an adorable little boy, but spoiled brats are a serious pet peeve of mine.
Next I went to orientation, not exciting, but I did learned about all of the holidays and festivals that occur during this particular semester. It should be fun, but will also make keeping to my teaching schedule a bit of a problem. After orientation I taught my first class. Totally solo. Thrown to the wolves, so to speak. To be honest, it ended up being fine. The class I had was so polite and well-behaved. I was absolutely blessed to have had them as my first class. We did flashcards, and then worksheets. I used Mickey stamps to mark their papers, which they loved! Then we played Teacher, says, and they really came out of their shells. I ended the class with another review of the flash cards, said goodbye and it was over. Just like that. I walked down the hall feeling pretty good about myself. Until....I realized that I never had them even open their books, something I was told from administration is a very important tool in the classroom. Woops!
I'm still calling it a win though, because I made it through it. I'll just do extra book work in my next class. The rest of the day I spent in the teachers room organizing my mess of a desk. I have to say, when I left that thing it was looking fantastic. I am looking forward to tomorrow, when I do my first full day of classes. It should be quite an experience!