Greetings, readers! I’m (almost) back to “regular” blogging.
No, I didn’t fall off the edge of the Earth. I am just trying to recover from what was simple exhaustion. My 53-year-old body essentially rebelled against my unrelenting schedule.
For weeks, I had been looking forward to taking a bit of a vacation/holiday break at the end of the school year. That came at the end of the first week of March. However, on Wednesday of that week I was asked to plan for and run a two-week Summer Camp due to start the following week at a Buddhist temple school on the opposite side of the island. While we are normally given much more advanced notice for even the one- or three-day camps, I told my boss, “Sure, no problem!”
Wow! Last week was extremely busy and the week to come looks to be even busier. As I start to write this, it is early Sunday morning and I need to depart soon on a “reconnaissance mission” to the unknown reaches of western Phuket. I need to find the location of an obscure temple where I will be starting a 10-day English camp tomorrow; supposedly, it is on the route of a songteaw (local bus service) and I want to ascertain the travel time and observe local landmarks so I know when to tell the driver to stop.
I only took a few photos since my last update (and absolutely no video), including several of my two classes at Phuket Town’s oldest and largest school…
Finally, we seem to be past the huge number of holidays and other activities that served as disruptions in the school schedule, starting in early December with Thai National Day and Constitution Day, continuing through Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, Mid-Term exams, and culminating with Thai Children’s Day and National Teacher’s Day nearly two weeks ago. I believe last week was the first in more than a month and a half where I worked a full week. My students were quite attentive and productive during most of the week so I rewarded both high school classes with a rare “Games Day” on Friday which was as much fun for their teacher as for them. It was a very long week, indeed.
This morning, the ECC Events Team (Big Boss K. Anusorn, new desk staffer Arm, and yours truly) journeyed to the remote Ban Aonambor School on Phuket’s Cape Panwa for an Open House and Kindergarten graduation ceremony. Although we don’t have a regular English teacher at this particular school, we have held several English camps and other projects here over the past two years or so. I always enjoy visiting Ban Aonambor as everyone from administration on down to the students and their parents always make us feel very welcome. It’s a predominately Muslim area and I love seeing the colorful variety of clothing on display. The food is always quite good as well!
We spent some three hours displaying some of the books we use during in-house lessons at the language school and playing games with groups of kids. I’d brought along the ever-popular fishing game and K. Anusorn provided a large variety of flashcards for quizzing the students. There were times I looked up from what I was doing to see a sea of people trying to cram into our little booth! It was great fun (I always enjoy these types of events) and I only noticed the intense heat when we were packing up to return to Phuket Town.
I only took a few photos (during set-up and slow periods); hopefully, I can get copies of the shots made by the boss. The little Kindergarten kids looked so cute wearing their robes and flowered crowns.
This past November, I took over the position of Deputy Head Teacher for a large language school and teachers’ agency in southern Thailand. In addition to overseeing some 40 teachers from around five different countries and a myriad of administrative duties (i.e., staffing our contracted government-run schools, organizing local English camps, writing course syllabi, etc.), I am still required to teach a minimum of 75 hours per month. Some of these classes are “in-house” (at the air-conditioned, in-a-shopping-mall language school itself) but most are substitute-teaching assignments for the regular teachers when they take ill or need to deal with periodic immigration requirements.
The end result of this workload is that I have had no time to write for fun (nor have I had much inspiration or desire to) since long before Christmas. The month of March – the hottest in Thailand, a country already boiling twelve months of the year – brings the end of the school year and a general slowdown in duties. Most of my in-house young students have gone on “summer holiday” and my business students mostly learn in the mornings or evenings. I don’t have to worry about filling-in at one of the myriad of schools scattered about the island (none of which are air-conditioned and all of which feature between 40 and 50 kids crammed into each classroom).
We are actually nearing the end of Term 1 for the 2015-16 school year but this past week saw me putting in a full schedule once again at a government-run school, something I will continue until the term break seven weeks from now. This is due to yet another teacher skipping out on his contract – lately, I seem to specialize in these finish-the-term substitutions. Luckily, this time I only had to give up two of my in-house lessons (meaning those I do during the day at the language school) in order to fill in at the high school. I still have my Saturday morning bank staff lessons and Sunday English camps so it will be quite some time until I have another day off!
The month-long summer holiday comes to an end this week, following another long weekend stretching from Labor Day on the first to Coronation Day on the fifth. Most students will return to their schools next week for the start of Term 1 for School Year 2015-2016. I believe the next special days will occur next month but don’t include any further school holidays until mid-July.