Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Dear lord this is so dulllll. Sitting in the staffroom writing all these reports. I think I will try sometime to do a definitive list of comments we would all like to put.
Here is a start
Be positive I am positive you are stupid
Be apologetic I am sorry you are stupid
Be definite You definitely are stupid
I will add them in here as I come across good ones or think of them.
Although we are supposed to be here the full working day doing markign and the like, folk from yesterday were already disappearing at 10.00. Or maybe the were just working in their rooms. Hmmmm
OK, time for a character assassination - Scruffy Doo
At heart, this guy is alright but he can be so totally empty of common sense at at times its unreal. He is quite a young guy mid 20s but to look at him sometimes you wouldn't know he has any Baht to rub together. holes in his shoes etc. He came in onetime last year on a Friday before
a long weekend with some of the thin plastic shopping bags you get from Tops or Lotus Tesco and we asked if it was his laundry. No it wasn't he replied, these are the clothes I am taking on holiday. He said he didn't have anything else to carry them in to Ko Chang or Samet or wherever it was he was going !
It has to be said that he is not the strongest willed of people so someone with a strong personality can totally take him over. As is now the case, he is now under the spell of the big fat yank and wont hear a word against him. SFX cinema has nothing on showing movies compared to these two.
If you go to Bobbys Arms, you will know Scruffy or more probably heard him. CCCHHHHUUUUUUNNNNNNNNE!
If you talk to him for a while and ask questions, you gradually that there is most definitely something somewhere wrong, the same question sometimes gets a different answer. He does seem to be one unhappy person - the number of times he has been seen by various people out drinking totally smashed on his own raises doubts - but he doesn't really let anyone in close enough to help him.
Enough, enough. I have spent most of the day winding up some prat on ajarn who if he had actually posted in a slightly different way might have got a good discussion going. The way its gone, its turning into him against the world. C'est la vie.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Here we are, the exams are now finished and we are sitting in the staffroom marking the papers and writing the report cards. This is a part of the job which is in a way so good but at the same dull so dulzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Sorry, fell asleep there.
All these reports you have to be so positive about the little darlings, I wonder what would really happen if I said what I really thought. Instead of Somchai works hard and in class and is always practising his verbal communication. It would be Somchai should stop trying to draw pictures of castles, spacemen and footballers and try to shut the feck up every once and while and actually speak English.
Now for the phenomemon called Desk Creep. There you are at the start of the lesson. All the desks are in perfect alignment and you have about 5 feet of space to work with and move around in at the front. By the end of the lesson, you can guarantee thats its all gone and you are pinned at the front with all the space at the back of the room.
This, I believe is down to that strange thing called desk creep. Its all down to the way the kids sit down and then work at their desks. When they sit down, they dont actually pull the chair back and sit down and then adjust the chair to the perfect position. What they do is push the desk forward until its too far, then they pull the chair forward and so on and so on. Its always the desk thats moved not the chair!!
Well, despite a 2nd attempt to stop us going on holiday the Project Manager confirmed this morning what everyone else already know. We are on holiday on Monday for one of the upcoming Bhudda days. Shame we have a cultural awareness seminar on the other one eh!
Thursday, July 22, 2004
OK, so where were we. Exams. Yup, this week we are doing the mid term exams and so far it seems to be going pretty well with the usual surprises from the kid at the back that you thought was dummer than a five inch nail but turns out to have been listening all the time or gets tuition elsewhere or both, disappointments who the usually smart kid who ended up just writing his name on the paper ( in Thai ) and suspicions confirmed about the dumb and the smart.
We use the Get Set Go colelction of books and there are some burning questions that have to be asked.
What sex is Echo ( a parrot ) and Tabby ( a cat )? The reason for asking is that we use the test out of the back of the teachers book and there are questions about them ie what is Tabby doing. So how should it be marked? He is ..? She is ....? It is...? We should be told! and more importantly so should the kids, after all if they told what chance have they when they are asked.
Ok. Now to some actual WRITTEN answers from the Prathom 2 & 3s.
These are as well as the usual mistakes of spelling two as tow and so on.
Q What's your name? ( right at the start of the paper, no marks but you would think a good saef question to start with)
A I am fine.
Q What does Adam want? ( along side is a picture of the characters and various food)
Q What does Tabby want?
Q What's Isabel doing? ( again with a picture alonside of activities)
A She's rape ( er... I think/hope he means rope. actually skipping is the right answer )
Q What are Helen and Sally doing?
A They are balling ( eeek!! I hope that isnt American English he is using. They are playing volleyball )
Q What is Sam doing
A He is a basketball. ( well, at least he sort of has the right idea)
I suppose today, I am now a real Prathom teacher. I have lost my cherry. Its gone. I have finally had a kid piss himself in class.
Unfortunately, it happened right at the end of the class during the prayers. He was right infront of me and suddenly started bouncing up and down and tried to tell me something but I couldnt really hear him because of the prayers. I asked him to be quiet as it would only be another minute untilt he end of them and then it would be the end of the lesson and he could do whatever he wanted. The bouncing increased in rapidity and even teh other kids could notice it and were laughing and then one kid pointed to him and said potchee in other words this boy needed to go to the toilet.
Now unfortunately, I have observed various states of need and what this boy was doing to my eye was of the lets make a scene and pretend I really need to go by pretending and holding my trousers at the appropriate point. Since he needed to hold on another 45 seconds I just thought it was funny but then little drops started to appear and then the puiddle formed. Oh dear. Needless to say, his classmates had absolutely no sympathy and were....ahem.... taking the piss.
As soon as the prayers ended ( 30 seconds too late for him ) I shoved him out the door with his wet trousers since I am not their nanny and have no intention of or want to do any sort of clearing up after that. I hope the cleaners come intot he room today as if they dont, tomorrow will stink to high heaven. I couldnt see them after the bell to ask them to clean up, typical.
You might think I was a bastard for not letting him go but as it was during the prayers we are under strict instructions from the school not to let them move during the prayers never mind let them out of the classroom.
Thats all for now, but tomorrow the mystery that is know as "Desk Creep"
Friday, July 09, 2004
Anyway, next week no teaching and then its exams and then marking so no actual teaching for 3 weeks. WHOOO HOOO!!!
See yall on the beach ! :)
Got observed today by the curriculum honcho, and it turns out it was an informal observation. What the hell is that? Informal? Feck knows when I get a formal one then. To show just how professional he is, we had to move 3 times for the post interview because he hadn't bothered to book a room or check if any were free. Prat. Then he says because it was informal I didn't need to get feedack if I didn't want to. HUH?! That's the whole point of observations, to get the pigging feedback. Anyway, as well as that he was asking about the company in general and personal development and really I just rambled on in that non inflammatory way and waffled a few key buzz words that made it appear I was actually listening to what he was saying and that I was taking it very seriously indeed. I really would do, if the agency was actually going to do something about their own professionalism and raise their own standards.
Anyhoo. Had another class stand in the dark for 50 minutes with no aircon because they wouldn't shut up for more than 1 second. Ah well.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
But my last class of the day were just total pains in the butt. Just would not shut up. Even when I had them standing for 5 minutes, they wouldn't shut up, I ended up drawing 2 faces on the whiteboard, one talking and one not with the equation talking = no air con = standing = no lights and no talking = air con = lights = sitting. And they still didn't shut up, so the lights were off, air con off and they stood the whole 50 minutes. By the end it was quite like a sauna and even I was sweating just sitting down.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
The other problem is that when we aren't there, the kids come into our rooms an practice. If they left the rooms the same way as they found them it would be all riht but they don't, they have got very bad habits of leaving chairs and desks all over the place, going into the drawers in the teachers desks and rubbing stuff out from the whiteboard. FECKERS!!! If I ever catch them I am going to lynch the swine before taking them to the head of year.
At the moment, we are going through teacher observations - supposedly as professional development - but in reality as a paper pushing exercise. The curriculum manager guy from the head office is also doing some. Unfortunately, as he has never taught in Thailand, most of his "suggestions' are truly worthless. They come straight out the delta training manual. Lets do pairwork and free conversation work with Prathom 1 & 2s. Hmmm. No way man. My lessons wasn't that good as for some reason the kids were more noisy than normal. I would usually expect the other way round. Because of that it was a bit flat but then again maybe he saw what its really like to teach.
Back to planning where to go for next weeks holiday :)
Definition - a Cover Monster is a person that will cover / teach other absent peoples classes and thereby get extra Monday. The Fat Yank ( did I assassinate his character yet? I will need to check ) was definately one last year and this year he seems to have been joined by the gay yank. You see them dropping whatever they are doing when the Project Manager ( bbwwwaahhhaaaahhhaaa! ) comes in and they are poised on the edge of their seats, timetables and pens at the ready. As soon as the PM says P..."ILLTAKEIT!!!!!"..eriod They dont give a toss about whether anyone else would be interested or even that it might be a good idea to share the extra money round, team players and all that.
For cover periods, its quite scary what goes on. You come back for the next lesson and find out they ave been doing colouring in or something. And to ask them, they always say they teach proper lessons. HA!
Well, the PM finally confirmed what everyone else was told on Friday, that we have next week off. Yeehaaa Baybeee!!!
Friday, July 02, 2004
An extra weeks hols! :) This comes in the middle of our mid terms which means we have a few days less to do them which isn't really a big deal since they will take up only 2 lessons anyway. I might try and get away down to an island somewhere but definitely out of Bangkok.
We had a staff meeting today and one of the things they discussed was the mid term progress card. The version they showed was OK up to a point. We could tick a box to say the student was excellent, above average, average or ... wait a minute, where are the other choices? They were trying to slip in a report card where basically everyone was average or above and we couldn't even get near the truth for some kids. Pathetic, because this didn't even come from tea school, it came from tea agency. When questioned, it was all " oh, we have to be careful, we have to be positive" and all that shot. After just about everyone commented, it was "oh yes, we will change it but don't put too many in there" pathetic. Even more so because the actual report cards go from Needs to improve to below average to average to above average to excellent. What would a parent think if suddenly the kid goes from Average to Needs to Improve in 2 months? Again someone in management not thinking about consequences.
Once again, the difference in the kids lining up outside the classrooms has been remarkable today. Well behaved! Inside again, it depends on the class. Today was a 5 period day and because there were so many people off I had the chance to teach 7 periods. Err, nope! No way hosay! ( how do you spell that anyway? ) In one of my 3s I had the kids I have been teaching for 3 years. 2 minutes into the class and I catch out the corner of my eye him throwing something at another kid. Here we go again. :( OK, on your knees at the front. He knows one of my cardinal rules is not to throw things in class because ( and at this point I turn into my mother, horrible thought isn't it) that could take someone's eye out or hurt someone.
So, continue teaching and he is creeping along the floor gradually moving further and further away from his starting point and I am continually telling him to move back. At one point I hear a metallic clink and see him picking up one of these little metal disks that are all the rage at the moment - they bounce them off the ground and presumably the result is down to how it lands and which face is up. So, I pick it up and tell him if I see anymore I will take them off him and he wont get them back. He knows I will do this and its not an idle threat as its happened many times in the past.
Of course, a few minutes later, I see them in his hands and hear the clink so go over and ask for them, he refuses, I ask for them again and he refuses again. I get him to stand and up reach for his shirt pocket where he put them and he physically stops me from getting them. Not wanting to get into a fight with him, I change tactics and stop the rest of the class. I tell them what has happened and tell them until he hands them over they will all stand and the air con will be switched off. Switching the air con off is a tactic that some classes react to like its the threat of a WMD and others are "so what?" This was a WMD and they did not like it and I could hear murmurs directed at the little ray of sunshine. They stood up and I switched off the air con and waited with my hand out infront of the little darling. Within a minute I had two, then a pause then another two then another two than another longer pause then two more and then an even longer pause before I finally got them. As I keep my promises, the rest of the class sat down and I switched on the air con again. At the end of the class I had the behaviour book and told them they were getting 8/10 but would have got 9/10 if it hadn't of been for him. Again a few murmurs and dark looks were directed at him. Good, finally he might get some pressure from the others to behave and let them learn in peace. At the end of the class I didn't give him back the metal discs and he actually started to cry. Good. Now, I know this sounds like I am a total bastard but as I said yesterday I think, I have tried just about everything I know to get him to behave so finally maybe he is getting the message that he has to start listening.
if a class is good through the lesson, I don't mind a bit of mucking about at the end. In one of my earlier 3s, I caught one of my smart boys playing muay thai against another kid, I pulled him aside and said he shouldn't do that because if he kicked the other student I would kick him and "landed" a kick on his side. Then another, then the class started the "OI!" sounds you hear when a kick or a punch is landed. A couple of "punches" and "kicks" later, I told him not to do it in class. Of course both of us and the class were laughing but a point had been made.
Character assassination of the day will need to wait and I can hear the pub calling my name "Unassuming!" "Unassuming!" "Unassuming!" "Unassuming! Where are you?"
Thursday, July 01, 2004
Draw family tree on the white board, illicit response from students to check what they know ( and who ) confirm pronunciation, drill 3 or 4 times checking participation, continue pronunciation drills on individual basis.
Use text book to reinforce knowledge gathering and other additional resources ie tape, handouts. Then walk around the room faciliting learning on 1 to 1 basis and encouraging and using positive reinforcement.
Eh, no. It never quite works like that in a class full of hyperactive 7 year olds. You can always tell what ice cream they had at the break because most of it is always spread over their shirt as they run around and loose control of it and SPLAT or DROOL. The result is one sweaty basket of brown wet skin, black hair and ice cream colured shirts.
Today it was more like this for P2.2 Draw family tree on white board turning round at least five times to tell Somchai ( not the real name )to sit down, Nachanon that he doesn't need to balance two pencils on the end of his pencil case which is something else he doesn't need at the moment and about 4 general be quiet / no talking warnings. Check what they know turns into a monologue - in our family you can have a mother..... waiting expectantly for more suggestions,a minute goes by, a mother .... holding his hand out to try to get more responses.... ok it doesn't work, a mother..... a ..... nope, a mother, a father, ....... nope still no sign of recognition ( except for the one bright boy in the class who 99% of the time is the first one to answer and who I feel sorry for as I have no idea what goes through his mind dealing with all these thick kids and one exasperated teacher).
They should know it, as its covered in the first and second year by us and the Thai english teachers.
OK, finally having got them to get all the answers, lets open the book at page 23,open the book at page 23,open the book at page 23!,open the book at page 23!,open the book at page 23!, Not your Workbook, not the notebook, the Pupil Book! Not page 43 with the animals, not page 36 with food, page 23.
Page 23 teacher? AAAARARRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!
Ok, who is this ( pointing to a picture that has a name of the character) ? Ratchepong, SIT DOWN!
Ratchepong, SIT DOWN!
No, the name. SISTER!! Ratchepong, SIT DOWN!
No, Ratchepong, SIT DOWN! what is the Ratchepong! name ( pointing again at the picture) I am 8!!!
OK, Ratchepong, since you dont want to sit, stand up for the rest of the lesson.
No, that's how old they are. What is their name? Bobo. ( Finally thank feck)
etc 10 minutes later we have finally identified all 5 characters.
now look at picture 2 on the same page, this says who they are - dan, mark, biff.....
Deep intake of breath and launching myself into the abyss, who is Bobos brother? And of course no one gets it except the smart kid despite me pointing out the two pictures and all they need to do is match the characters and read the name out.
Oh what's the use, that's the class almost over. I shouldn't let myself get upset but they don't behave that with the Thai teachers. Just a waste of good pork on a stick they are.