The first day of school and I’m already making students cry
As the end of my first week of teaching is drawing to a close! Let me catch you up on what has been the haps around Thepnaree Bilingual School.
So last we heard Brenna was supposed to be teaching on Monday, but when I went in at 7:30 they told me to come back at 9. And then Teacher Jane told me to come back at 10. When I returned at 10 I was taken to the school and deposited with Teacher Phon who didn’t look particularly happy to have me interrupting her class.
She took me to an office and gave me an enormous amount of material. There is a teacher’s book, a class book, and a work book for each of my four grade. Plus large books of lesson plans for each grade as well.
Then I was sent back to my room where I didn’t really do anything. I was a bit overwhelmed with all the information, and on top of that no one knew where the previous teacher (the infamous Teacher Megan) had stopped with the kids.
I figured I would probably just have to do some “get to know you” shit on the first day anyway so there wasn’t really anything to plan.
I just drove into the city to buy more black and eat some pizza with my fellow teachers. Much necessary because I was feeling pretty nervous.
Okay let’s get back to what you really want to hear about.
My first day teaching.
Oh god no. Why am I going to have to relive this while writing?
Alright so it’s the crack of dawn…and by that I mean 7:30 and I am in my all-black outfit, backpack full of text books and blank paper and I’m heading over to school. Teacher Phon had told me to get to school at 7:30.
I get to the school building and no one is there.
So I just wander around for a bit and then decide…well I’m just going to go back to my apartment and wait for a bit.
My schedule for classes says I don’t have my first class until 8:30.
So I waited till about 8 and then I went down again.
I ran into teacher Phon, who was distracted getting kids out of their cars. And I’m like “where do I go?”
And, kay I know I’m supposed to be a working adult, but I’m not from this country and I have never been at this school before. So I feel like there should be less expectations for me to have any idea what the fuck I’m doing.
So teacher Phon just kind of waves me towards the students like “go to assembly…”
So I follow the students to a lawn, and I must’ve looked helpless enough because some teachers took pity on me and kind of gestured to where I should go. So I’m following and then they freaking lead me up onto the stage!
And I’m like “Are you sure?”
But they don’t know what to do with me, you know?
So I’m standing up on the stage during this assembly which is super awkward. And I don’t know any of the words to the king’s song or the national anthem, so I feel like I’m being offensive jus standing there.
And then, when I think nothing can get worse, my phone goes off during the ceremony. Alex, my friend from in town, chose that moment to send me like half a dozen text messages.
And the stern-looking thai lady is kind of shooting me dirty looks over her shoulder. And my phone is like tucked in my shirt so I can’t reach the volume buttons.
I just kind of will it to stop until the ceremony is over.
Off to a great start right?
So then finally that embarrassment is over and I can leave. I go back to the English program building. They have told me enough to where the classes are. Then I run into Teacher John, who bless him is very helpful. He explains that the students are going to come up and do their prayer.
And then I show him my schedule and he’s like “yeah, good, just follow that”
So kids come up. Everyone is staring at me, mind you. The kids are like “what’s your name” “where are you from” etc. They all want to hug me and grab onto me.
That’s over, kids go into their classrooms and it’s time for my first English lesson ever.
Here we go.
So my plan, really the only thing I had, was to make name tags.
So I get in say “Hi I’m Teacher Boo”
Oh, yeah did I mention I’m teacher Boo?
You are welcome, Fifi.
It’s much easier to say than Brenna. And hey, I kind of like it.
So anyway. I’m like “I’m teacher Boo, I’m from America, we’re going to make name tags! Let’s go”
I tell them to draw three things about themselves on the back (I had drawn music, a cat, and the beach). And they all seem to get it.
In fact, the whole exercise takes about 15 minutes.
They clearly understand English very well. And they are super well behaved. And not the manic chaos I was expecting after testimonies from previous teachers. And of course I’m happy that everything goes smoothly, but that was basically my whole plan…so now I have no idea what else to do.
Conclusion: Just play Pictionary for like 30 minutes.
I was like counting down the minutes until class was over. Because it was just so awkward. I mean…how long can you enjoyably play Pictionary.
And then I go right to my next class which is grade three.
Completely different story.
These kids are so psyched to see me.
They come running up to me and hugging me.
They are yelling “teacher Boo!” because apparently my name had already gotten around.
This period I was smarter.
I had a q&a sesh with the kids before we launched into the nametag situation. I let them ask me where I was from. They also like to ask why. “Teacher Boo, what is your favorite animal and why?”
Lol. They must’ve been taught that.
Anyway. There’s one girl in Grade 3, Nicole, who I learned is the daughter of the teachers and basically speaks English fluently. Most of the questions were coming from her.
Now, I also had learned from my first class about the nametags and wanted to make this last longer.
So I had them write their names first, then I had them stand and introduce themselves. Like “Hi my name is Pim” and we’d all say “Hi Pim!” Which they got a kick out of.
Then I went onto the three things about themselves.
The nametags for grade three actually ended up taking the whole time.
Then I went to meet my grade 4.
Now, Grade 4 is actually my grade. I didn’t know it at the time but now I have come to understand that I am not like an extracurricular teacher, I am a full-time 4th grade homeroom teacher, and English teacher.
WTF? Did I sign up for this?
So, with grade 4 I am officially a pro at the whole name tag situation. They made their name tags. They drew some pictures. They talked about what they liked. It was snazzy. They did finish pretty quickly, though, so we ended up killing time with a bunch of hangman. They suggested it. Apparently they really like that game.
Oh and fourth grade was where I made a student cry. Actually I made 2 students cry. The first was because I didn’t pick her to draw for Pictionary, and then to make up for it I let her come up and then the other girl cried cause then she couldn’t go.
Jesus. Fragile temperaments of 10 year olds!
Then I went right to grade 6.
And there are only 2 kids in grade 6.
Kay, well I’m not going to make name tags for 2 kids. I was kind of stumped. The one girl Tammy was eager to get into the book. The other girl, Bam, was less eager. We read like a story for a few minutes and then I’m just like…”do you guys want to play hangman?”
Because I hadn’t prepared to use the book. And I figured killing one day was fine.
Killing it, Teacher Boo.
It was sometime after lunch that I learned that instead of being done after 6th period…which I thought I would be. I actually had to come back and do an 8th period with my kids. At this point I’m like so overtired its crazy.
I actually went back to my room for a bit because there is air con there and I wanted to lie down in a bed.
During 8th period I literally did nothing. We played more eye spy and hangman because that’s what the kids wanted to do. At this point I’m just hanging around with them, which is cool.
When the day was done I felt like I had been trampled by a herd of wildebeest.
I just sort of sat on my bed with a dazed expression like…what the hell am I doing?
It was such a full day of work. And I have to keep up this energy. It’s exhausting.
I literally give all my teachers such props. This is such an intense job.
I am feeling like shit and this point and I get on my scooter to take the obligatory 20 minute comute into Phrae city center to see my friends, take a dip in a pool, and down some very well-deserved Changs.
And I’m kind of doing that thing where you’re grumbling to yourself. And I’m doing that mental downward spiral like “what if I just leave now? Well, I can’t cause I spent so much money, and good god I have to stay at least 4 months to make it worth it. And so basically I’m stuck here, I don’t think I can do another day let alone months”
And then I see a fucking rainbow.
Just huge, and bright, and lighting up the whole sky right in front of me.
And for those who aren’t away, rainbows are like a motif in my life.
Like if my life was a novel being read by 17 year-old AP English students they would identify rainbows as a motif that basically represents this:
“Hey stupid. Yeah you. Remember that life is fucking magical, yeah? So stop with this negative attitude. The only person you’re hurting is you! You get to live in a world where beautiful shit like this just exists. And you get to witness it. So turn that frown upside down, babe”
All that from a rainbow. I know!
So anyway. Then I was in a much better mood. We had some good food. (Cheese sticks actually) and Hungry Janet was more than satisfied.
More to come, because believe it or not each day has been better than the last.
Who would’ve guessed??
It’s not like people have been telling me that from the beginning…lol. I guess you really only take advice from yourself.