I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to try the teaching thing out. I spent the better part of a decade strapped to a headset and stuck in a cubicle so it was about time I freed myself from those confines and got involved in a job that a bit more rewarding. The course is going really well so far and I keep getting more and more eager to get in the classroom and start teaching.
Tomorrow we observe one of the trainers do the same lesson we’re going to be teaching next week. This was the final week of lectures and note taking. Now, it’s all about being in the classroom and teaching.
After the grammar on Monday and Tuesday we started going over classroom management and strategies. We’ve already learned a lot about what it means to be a teacher in Thailand. There is a high social status that comes along with the title of teacher here that you just don’t get in America. In terms of social status you have the King first, then the royal family, monks and then teachers. Even elders would technically be below me on the social scale. This is important to remember when “wai” ing in Thailand. Wai is the common Buddhist greeting where hands are clasped and placed at different levels depending on the status of the person you are wai’ing. I technically wouldn’t be expected to wai an elder or senior if they knew I was a teacher. This is weird to me and the idea of having someone older than me showing me a higher respect would be difficult to get used to.
There are a lot of differences between western classrooms and eastern. There are even further differences specifically for Thailand. For instance, technically, as a teacher we are allowed to hit students. We were told very clearly never to do this as foreign teachers because the discipline doesn’t mean the same coming from us rather than their native teachers. There are sticks just like in Catholic schools of past generations, that can be used to slap on the hand. In addition there are a lot of subtle differences such as avoiding prolonged eye contact with students, giving a lot of personal space and the idea of not singling out any students for poor performance to avoid them losing face with others in the class. Group work is preferred by students as Thai’s are generally communal when it comes to learning. This is a big difference from American culture since I don’t know any students in college that actually enjoy group activities.
Right now it is Friday night, right in the middle of Songkran, the Thai New Year. I will do a write up on Songkran which is an unbelievable event in Thailand once a year in April where the entire country shuts down for a water festival to ring in the New Year. Until that update, have a good weekend and I’ll talk to you soon. Time to go have some fun!
I teach my first class at 9am on Monday morning. This means actual students and an actually lesson plan. Finally!