New Definitions of Cold/The First Days
My students are very cold, as they are quick to tell me while they pull on jackets during the morning outside time before school starts. They rub their arms and look forward to the led stretching to warm them up before we head inside. And they are not amused by my smiles at the sight of all of them in jackets, or when I tell them that it has been snowing in parts of the U.S.A. I could wear shorts.
The day starts at 7:30 AM with a quick trip to the office to sign in, which is made lengthier by the fact that I have to remove my shoes and put on flip flops to do it. Thirty minutes of students running around and then flag time, during which everyone else sings the Thai national anthem and I stand quietly and respectfully. Then some teacher led stretching, and its time for the 8 AM class that started twenty minutes ago. Thai time.
I have second graders from 8 until 9 every day, and then 1st graders from 9 until 10. Snack time is 10 until 10:30 and includes some recess. Every day but Wednesday and Friday I have 10:30 until 12:00 off, and 12:00 is lunch. Wednesday I have 1st grade computer class from 10:30 - 11:00. After lunch I have my three third graders, one of whom has been absent both days so far, from 12:30 until 1:30. Thursdays I then have a 2/3 Computer class for an hour. Homework club, where they come for extra learning (i.e. free tutoring) from 2:30 until 3:30.
Fridays are different, where I have first graders for the first hour, a combined 2/3 class for the next hour, then some computers with the first graders, then lunch and assembly...and then off until homework club.
Tuesdays and Thursdays I will be staying late after school to tutor, for extra pay, the school owner's two sons in creative writing; this extra work will net me either 2000 or 2500 baht per month (she proposed 2000, I'll be coming back with 2500 tomorrow) and free dinner twice a week at the school (worth maybe 400 baht per month). So all told about 2500 or 3000 extra baht (75-80 dollars maybe) for eight extra hours of work per month. Not too bad at all.
I live in an apartment building down two buildings across the street from the school, so my total commute from door to door is three minutes if the elevator starts at the bottom and I don't walk quickly; needless to say I haven't been late. My apartment is 23 square feet on the sixth floor and has a dresser, a closet, a desk, and a bed, plus the bathroom. No hot water, although I have someone coming out Sunday to install a hot water heater I bought. The showers have certainly woken me up in the morning, I will say.
The school is interesting, as it is tri-lingual. Students learn English, Chinese and Thai, but can only speak English in the hallways (not that it is always very strictly enforced). The students range from native (2 half-Thai half-English kids) and functionally fluent (a Thai girl and an Indian girl) to barely able to speak at all. And I was wrong, there are more than 12 in the whole school, that is just Grades 1 - 3. And the difference between the grades is huge; my P3 class runs like I was in any school in the States, minus that after me they learn Chinese. My P1 class is very definitely still learning.
The salary is currently 30,000 baht per month, but according to the Principal we can re-negotiate salary after my 3 month probationary period which will end in April. The school goes September to June, a US schedule as opposed to the Thai schedule of May to March, and is run largely by western educated 7th Day Adventists. There is a picture of Jesus on the Principal's wall, but given this is a Thai school the King's picture is bigger.
I'm supposed to give a lot of homework but I've taken it easy the first two nights given it is after break; lots of reading to do over the long weekend, however, and a lot of writing to do as well. Thai parents apparently fall in to the category of not believing it is a good school unless there is a lot of English being spoken and a lot of homework being given.
Sorry for not posting earlier, just a bit hectic adjusting to the new world I find myself in. I was struck, as I got dressed yesterday, by the arrogance of what I've done (some of you might say 'Finally!'). To come to a foreign country and presume that simply by dint of an English degree and a dream of teaching I can manage...well, I probably should have started having these doubts before I came, no?
But as the Rabbi at my cousin Parker's Bar Mitzvah said (and I will mangle this horrible): "If you dream it, then it's real." And here I am, for better or for worse a teacher.