First of all, Happy Independence Day to my family and friends back in the United States of America. I had planned to do a bit more for the Fourth of July this year but a rainy day and buggy computer set me way behind on my task list. I have decided to not attend the Opening Ceremony of Phuket’s reopening to tourism this evening (a light and sound projection in Old Town being the highlight) so that I can try and relax a bit before another busy workday tomorrow.
I returned to full-time teaching this past Thursday, 1 July, and it will take me a little while to adjust. I was offered the position last Monday and only received the course curriculum on Wednesday evening. The class lists were provided during a meeting prior to my first lesson on Thursday. I am quite anxious at the moment as I managed to leave my planning notes and the curriculum at the school when I left for home Friday afternoon. That is actually the least of my worries as teaching is the easy part for me; my anxiety level is mostly due to the difficulty in getting to school and back.
The school is rather remote and impossible to travel to using my preferred form of local transportation, the very affordable songteaw. Thus, for my two days there last week, I arranged a motorbike taxi who picked me up at my apartment building early each morning. It was fairly reasonable at 150 baht for the one-way trip. I figured I could find a comparable ride back to Central Festival on the first day after my lessons. I needed to go there as I have evening classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It turns out that there aren’t any motorbike taxis near the school in the afternoons. I walked a very long distance before I found a tuk-tuk. By that time, I was desperate as my time was limited to get to my evening lesson. It was expensive.
On Friday, my agency arranged a round-trip motorbike ride (the husband of one of the office staff). He would only agree to it if he picked me up in the morning and in the afternoon for one weekly rate. Upon dropping me off at my apartment Friday afternoon, he told me that he had to take his son to school in the mornings so he wouldn’t be able to pick me up until a time that would cause me to arrive late at the school. I will try to make different arrangements and get a refund from the agency tomorrow but I am anxious about getting to school late in the morning. For many years, I have always arrived early to every appointment or assignment and certainly don’t want to spoil my perfect record.
I teach all the Primary levels from P1 through P6 with three sections in each level. Thursday would have been my heaviest day but after my second lesson last week, all the remaining classes were cancelled so the students could do “Deep COVID Cleaning” of their classrooms. The two classes I taught that day were meh, to say the least. The first was P2/1 which had about 10 boys who kept running out of the classroom to play in the hallway. I managed to get through the lesson but was exhausted from constantly trying to round-up these overactive boys. The girls were quite well-behaved, however. The next lesson, P3/2, was much better — helped, no doubt, by there being a Thai teacher who sat in the classroom for most of the hour-long period.
I sat in my “office” from around 11:00 am until it was time to leave at 16:00. Since I didn’t bring my tablet or laptop that day, there was nothing to do but jot notes on scratch paper while sitting in a completely uncomfortable wooden chair designed for young kids. My office space is nothing more than a table in the very small school library with no air-conditioning and the nearest electrical outlet too far away to do me much good.
My first lesson on Friday was awesome. It was P2/2 and there were only six students in the class. They all listened intently and repeated the phrases I taught them. We did some notebook work which they all did beautifully. We even had time to play a game with balloons that one of the students found. It was quite enjoyable but I wonder if the 30 missing students will attend next week.
The next class was the complete opposite, however, with 28 or so of the most energetic little kids you ever did see. P1/1 never stopped moving other than a few girls in the front. Several boys delighted in hitting others and one kid constantly informed on his classmates. Since they were always doing something bad, the little tattle-tell was under my feet for the entire hour. I even pulled out my “class rules” flashcards in an effort to get them to focus but they just grabbed the cards to use as yet another weapon. I never raised my voice but I was completely soaked in sweat when I left the classroom. I found out later than a former colleague of mine was the “informer’s” father.
My two classes after lunch were much, much better. P4/2 had 18 students present while there were only 13 in P4/1. All were well-behaved and attentive throughout. I got through all the different parts of each lesson without any difficulty at all and even had students in each class who voluntarily began helping me without any prompting at all. However, their classrooms are ovens — the ceiling fans don’t work at all and the floor fans barely put out any airflow. Maybe the kids know that if they run around, they will quickly become soaked in sweat. There were approximately twenty kids missing from each of these afternoon classes; I hope they are as calm and kind as the students I taught on Friday.
My plan for the coming week (much as it was last Thursday and Friday) is to begin each lesson with “getting to know you” activities and attempting to introduce the appropriate topics as listed in the curriculum. Nothing that I have seen in the course outline matches with any of my existing materials so I will need to start creating new flashcards, etc. in the very near future. It is going to be a very busy month, I suspect, while I attempt to do all of that as well as maintain my usual “fun” stuff at home (reading, working on my stamp collection, writing about stamps, etc.). This term is a short one, lasting only until the end of September. By then, I should be back into the flow of things.
And maybe, just maybe, my “Daily Phuket” posts will become more frequent (daily, perhaps?) and, hopefully, less wordy. Time will tell…