Arriving at school Monday morning, I was rearing and ready to start my first ever week of teaching. I shuffle around from class to class with my energetic Thai co-teacher, Pi Poo (known as Teacher Pinky to students). I introduce myself as Teacher Krista from America. English sounds are difficult for Thai people, especially the letter ‘r’ and ‘t’. All that these 3-5 year old students hear is something like “Kwissa”, which immediately comes out sounding like the word: pizza. Teacher Pizza is standing there in front of a class smiling like a fool not catching onto this flub until Pi Poo starts laughing, “Mai chai pizza! Not pizza. Not food. KRIS-TA.” Realizing that the students are addressing me as one of my favorite foods in the whole world, I start laughing along with everyone else. Damn, I wish I could have some pizza right now. Thanks for the reminder.After being introduced to about 15 classes, Pi Poo tells me I’m done for the day, I start teaching TOMORROW. Okay, then! Day one ends about 1 hour after it begins.
Day Two: Finally, I begin teaching. Actually, there was no real teaching taking place in my classes today. The first class I attempted to teach them a song where they sing, “Hello, hello. What’s your name? …My name is _______.” (Sung to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb). Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. 5 year old Thai students that are probably scared of me and know hardly any English end up just staring at me in confusion as I sing and clap along. These kids had SO much energy. One student wouldn’t sit down at all, he ended up just playing in the corner the whole time while I failed miserably at teaching his peers some songs and how to say “my name is.” I wasn’t too hard on myself being that this was my first time teaching in my life (in Thailand of all places). I quickly changed it up to have the students color on some paper. I told them to draw themselves, so I drew an embarrassingly bad drawing off myself on the board and said “draw!” Cue 30 five year olds all drawing exactly what I had drawn on the board: me. Good enough for me.
My next two classes went better. My technique is gradually progressing. In my second class I had two teams lined up at the board while I showed them random letters on flash cards. First kid to say the letter got a point. That actually worked great and they were super pumped about it. It’s just that 7-10 minutes in, I notice a group of students playing on the floor, another group fooling around doing who knows what. MAXIMUM Energy level . LOW Attention span . By the third class I actually got them to sit in a circle while I rolled a ball around and they said, “My name is whisperwhisperwhisper.” Success! All the classes ended in me passing out a sheet to color and attempting to talk to students one on one and find out their names. Not happening, Pizza. I really have no idea what to start with when it comes to the second class. It seems as if my biggest obstacle is to get them to just sit quietly and LISTEN. Miming and using my loud voice just isn’t cutting it. It would be a lot easier if they had a workbook of any sort so I could actually have an idea of what they need to learn and in what succession. I guess the internet is going to become my best friend.
Best point of the day: Pi Poo giving me a garland of jasmine flowers as a good luck gesture for my first day.
Next up: afternoon nap; dreaming of pizza. The food, not myself.