Teacher Esther


So yesterday was day two of teaching. Wednesday was the day we were introduced to all staff. We were warned that there would be a lot of whispering and pointing as we introduced ourselves. My main goal was not to stand out--you don’t want to be too casual, but you also don’t want to be too fancy. Don’t want them to think you are sloppy and don’t care, but you also don’t want to be too beautiful--just like mean girls: fine line between a threat and a loser. Of course, too beautiful is a thing that I often have trouble with-haha (555).

So each teaching day starts with a “clock-in”. I’m in a super high tech school. We come in and using our fingerprint must “clock-in” by 8am. We arrived early on day one & two. Of course we stopped for coffee before school. Dee Cafe my favorite coffee shop states clearing on the window 8am-6pm, but guess what it’s Thailand and that means nothing. No clue what time he opens, but he is always open. I guess the timeframe is just a suggestion.

Sri Racha Beach

So we arrive coffees in hand and I meet 40 of my 120 students in my homeroom for the week. A bit awkward at first, but not really. Kind of shy, but oh man they warm of fast and Tea-chha, Tea-ccha suddenly fills the room. I am attacked with hugs, pulls and questions: some in Thai some in English. They know a lot though and they pick up motions and songs so fast you’d think they were robots.

Each morning when you start it goes: “Good Morning.” “Good Morning, Tea-ccha Esther. How are you?” “Fine, thank you. How are you?” “Fine, thank you.” Then line up and the Thai teacher says “Line, Line, Line” and the students say “Stay, Stay, Stay.” It took me awhile to figure out that was what they were saying, but figured it out today.

Then we head outside into what has turned into a pretty mild week, it has cooled off probably 5-10 degree since we’ve been here. Hope that it stays that way! We all stand at attention while, they raise the flag and then suddenly everyone is singing a Thai song, bowing, praying and all kinds of other things I don’t understand. I just stand there and smile, trying to go unnoticed.


Then we go back into the room. The rooms are so cute and nice and all have AC and they all open into the large courtyard which is where the flag ceremony takes place. Palm trees galore and the whole building is painted purple--the color of the princesses. Then we sit in a row and the students come one by one and wai & hug each of the thai teachers (1 thai teacher & 1 assistant) and then say good morning to me and give me a hug. A bit awkward first day, I had no idea what I was doing and the kids are so used to wai-ing and I wasn’t making them feel all that comfortable with the western introduction--I did much better this morning!

So little after good mornings the kids go into their Thai lessons and I rotate to different rooms between three different K classes. They’ve all already won my heart! I mean I really love so much!

This week was a bit more of a challenge because their were no topics so it was harder to come up with things. But, yesterday I went with introductions and show pictures of family! Then counted people in the family and then had the kids find me in the pictures--very confusing since to Thai three and four year olds, Rebekah, Hannah and I look like the same person and Carrie, Leah and I look like identical twins--so it was a bit of a challenge.

But the kids are SO smart. Today we did Halloween and learned: skeleton, monster, pumpkin and witch. We had motions that went with each and then sang five little pumpkins sitting on a fence. The song was pretty fast, but they got the motions with it. Then we played games where kids had to pick a motion and everyone guessed which one. Worked pretty well and I am getting the hang of what works and doesn’t work pretty fast!

Then we have lunch and it is done family style-ish as well. The kids have a lot of responsibility. They have to pass a box down the middle and the kids take their spoon and fork and then push the box along. Then pass down a pot and they pour in any extra soup they don’t eat. Then pass down fruit and they take one piece of fruit--amazing. This system would never work in USA. One kid would take 5 pieces and one kid would spill all over the place and one kid would forget to pass and then all the kids would be screaming. But here as efficient as an assembly line.

After lunch, we brush teeth, drink water out of silver cups and pull out our silk sleeping pallets with pillows included. They sleep for HOURS! 12-2:30. Lights go out and it is quiet! (maybe you are wondering how these kids stay quiet? -- rubber rulers are involved...) It is nap time now, imagine AC, dark room and I just had a lovely vegetarian pumpkin curry (for less than $1) and now I am sipping on a mocha espresso and it is already Friday--life in Thailand is good!

Post nap time, kids wake up (really whenever the teacher wants them to-- no set time. Then they wash their face and we hand out baby powder and they rub it on their face. So post nap tap everyone’s face becomes splotchy with white powder. I couldn’t figure it out at first, but I looked it up and it does date back to some Thai traditions as well as just acting as cooling agent. Still pretty bizarre in the eyes of a farang.

Polyester Pink Sport's Day Shirts 
Next week we will start storytime. Every afternoon I spent 15 minutes with each class and read then a few pages of a book that has to do with the theme of the week. Next week’s theme is Night and Day. So any creative ESL learning games, comment below and help a sista out!

One more quick story. I promise then I’m done for the day! Just so much to tell...and it’s only been two days. Yesterday my coordinator said “You be my office 12:30, storytelling competition.” In my mind I thought okay, she will give me details about judging/helping organize a storytelling competition in the future. But no, we arrive and three Thai students sitting meekly in the corner and our coordinator rambles off the criteria. “Mood, Theme, Organization, Interesting, Pronunciation, Morale..this % and that, judge now and winner will be school representative.” Suddenly their fate is left in my hands. I feel so under qualified! Why me? All three students begin the same “Ladies and Gentleman...” So funny to hear them say this. I couldn't tell what the first story was, it was pretty unorganized and it was confusing. The second was better, she did the three little pigs and she had good voices and her pronunciation was great! And then the third student was amazing. I don’t even think a native speaker could have done as well as she did. She told the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes (all of this is memorized too). She used different voices, hand motions and was amazing!

We all agreed she was the obvious winner. Then when we finished (the judges were two other farang teachers), My coordinator said “Esther I think you tutor her, yes?” First day and already taken on extra! Love it! (actually no italics here..) So I’m staying late on a Friday to help this adorable third grader win a storytelling competition. Only in Thailand.

Next post will include my lunch today. I met another Thai teacher and she already invited me to come spend the night at her house and visit the night market close to her house. “Yes come stay and when I need to come here I stay with you?” No shame...then she took me to my coffee shop (my second coffee shop close to school) and she told the owner “She is VIP here, remember her face and this is her order.” (in thai of course..) So cute!


1 comment:

  1. 1. So glad you got your life lessons from Mean Girls. I raised you right.
    2.Wake up, wake up! The sun is up???
    3.Good morning, merry sunshine???
    4. Good Night, Moon, of course
    5. Only you would pick a country that makes napping such a priority.
    6. Bring your mama a silk napping blanket when you come home.