Sunday, October 30, 2016

From student to teacher: a typical schoolday in Thailand

I am currently in my seventeenth year of school. However for the first time, I sit in the classroom as the teacher, not the student. I teach 11 classes twice a week for a total of 22 periods each week.  People often think that teaching abroad is just a vacation or an extension of study abroad. While there are plenty of fun aspects, free time, and opportunities for travel, teaching English abroad is still a job that requires work, routine, and responsibility. For a few reasons, I haven't written much about school, but today I will tell you a bit about a typical day at a secondary school in Thailand.

07:00 Wake up and get ready for school
Overall, my morning is pretty typical: eat, brush my teeth, get dressed. Thai teachers at my school wear a uniform that depends on the day of the week. For foreign teachers, we have more free rein on our clothing, except that female teachers have to wear skirts or dresses. Pants are only allowed on certain days when we wear these crazy, multi-colored, patchwork school polo shirts. On Fridays, teachers wear Lanna clothing, which is the traditional clothing in Chiang Mai.

07:50 Scan in at work and go to the office
Since I live on campus, I walk to school. My school clock-in is pretty high-tech: a finger scanner. Once I clock in, I go to my office which I share with about 14 teachers who all teach the same level I do, some of them Thai and some of them foreign teachers. Many days, my co-workers bring in snacks to share with the office like longans, jackfruit, or some baked goods. More often than not, my Thai co-workers get a kick out of watching the foreign teachers try the food they bring in because sometimes the food is very interesting, like sweet pork or durian cake.

08:00-8:20 Morning Assembly
Morning Assembly includes many of the same components found in homeroom in the United States, like weekly announcements, the singing of the national anthem, and attendance is taken. In Thailand, a morning meditation is included, too. Unless it's raining, it takes place outside and all of the teachers, students, and administrators are present.

08:30-12:00 Teaching and meetings
Depending on the day, sometimes I teach 3 classes a day, other days I teach 6. I teach Fundamental English to an entire grade, Matthayom 4, which is the equivalent to 10th grade. The grade is broken down into 11 classes with roughly 50 students in each class. Yes, you read that right; there are 50 or more students in each class, and it can get wild having so many kids in one room. Luckily, I teach with a co-teacher, a veteran teacher from the Philippines. We both share the teaching responsibilities for our classes, from creating lessons to grading content, and I absolutely adore my co-teacher. Like any class, my daily activities range from giving quizzes or exams, giving presentations, and collecting and grading work.

12:00-13:00 Lunch
At my school, teachers receive lunch from the school canteen every day. Usually the lunch consists of rice, some kind of meat in sauce that goes with the rice, a soup, and dessert. Unlike schools in the US, there is always a vegetarian option that is essentially the meat-free version of the regular lunch. 9/10 the food is pretty good and I can't complain about not having to pack my own lunch. My personal favorite lunches are Pad Thai, egg noodle soup, and omelets with rice!

13:00-16:30 Teaching
My afternoons are the same as my mornings. Every Wednesday, my students have afternoon activities that give me the afternoon free. More often than not, I watch some Netflix or blog in the afternoons when I have free time!

The view from my desk, complete with stacks of papers and an empty coffee cup

16:30 Clock out and go home!

Being the teacher instead of the student gives me a new appreciation for all the work my teachers put into their lessons and I admire the dedication teachers have for their students. Teaching is certainly not as easy as I thought it would be, but it is oh so rewarding! Hope you enjoyed hearing a bit about my daily routine as a teacher!