Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Tuesdays Tantrums

Well, here we are into the last week before the exams and its tearing the hair out time. You know I used to have a full head of shiny light brown almost fair hair and now is flecked with grey and vanishing rapidly.

Part of this is down to the adminmissitration from the contemptable incompetant project manager and his sidekick ( hereafter known as the Fully Undynamic Duo or FUDs), partly from their policies ( hiring and otherwise) partly from the school, partly from the agency, partly from me and partly from the kids. The biggest two are the FUDs. They sit around all day and produce so little in the way of visible helpful output. They have known since May that the exams were coming up in September and when did they get around to chosing which set to use? Last Week. Have they typed up a clear policy on how to use them and what to do? No, of course not, that would be too much like work and useful to boot. Did they ask the thai admin assistants to make copies for the teachers? No. They pinned one copy up on a noticeboard and left it to the teachers to make their own copy. Have we had a meeting to discuss the questions, the way we are doing it, timing? Sort of. But basically it was like this blog sometimes, totally rambling, incoherent and you came out the other end wondering what just happened and what medication they are on ( or should be on).

This week is desparately trying to preteach a whole load of new concepts ( did I put this in last week? shows you you just how confused and mentally retarded I have become! ) like Bank, Cinema, Library and what they are. Not so easy. Maybe I should just give them the answers or help them during the test or maybe even not give a rats arse and c'est la vie.
One problem is that we are giving them a different exam from a different curiculum than we are using. Hence the sudden need for preteaching a whole new raft of words and concepts. The other thing is that supposedly, to give the exam - The University of Cambridge English Exam ( Starters ), we are supposed to be certified to give it. None of us are.
I am also giving them a dummy lestening test which basically makes them draw lines between things, colour certain objects in and draw others. Mainly testing prepostitions of place, colours and of course listening and comprehension - god that sentence makes me sound like a real teacher doesnt it! Anyway, the usual Thai ability levels kick in. Do nothing until I shout at them for the 10th time, somebody next to them does something - anything, so they can copy it or somebody shouts out in thai what they are supposed to do - usually wrongly.
To be fair, the Prathom 3's got it just about OK, but the P2s were totally useless. Since this score is going into their permanent records for the first time, I have grave doubts about some of them getting into double percentage figures. Even on the dummy test - colour the chair blue became colour the chair brown, yellow or the tree blue or the cry "teacher no colours!" would be heard - despite me checking just outside their classroom they had colours.
Do you have colours?
Oh dear.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Wicked Wednesday

Ok, here we are again. And I will try and put in as much as possible that was deleted yesterday if I can remember.

So, anyway, we had our team meeting and the exams have been brought forward a week and the Speaking and Listening exam will now be included inthe kids overall english scores on their permanent records. Scary stuff, of course the younger ones dont have a clue what that means yet, but I am sure some parents will start moaning soon.

The trouble with exams is that we teach from one book and the exam is based on another course - the Cambridge exam. Brilliant, this means they are tested on some words that we just dont teach them. So the last week before the exam is frantically preteaching them all the stuff that they dont already know. Also the Cambridge divides students into 3 levels, Starters, Movers and Flyers. Trouble is, we teach over 6 Prathom levels. So Prathom 1 & 2 get the same exam, 3 & 4 get the same, 5 & 6 get the same. Its stupity, the higher level have that extra year of exposure to English and vocabulary so they always ( ok, 90% ) do far better than the lower year. For example, this year the P3s have to know stairs, basement, bank, cinema, lift, library and zoo. Not only as words but also as concepts.

As well as that the exam papers they will get are going to be in black and white so the agency has to change some of the questions - they can no longer ask "what is the blue monster doing?" because they all look grey!!!

As well as that they still havent told us when our holidays are. Maybe the last 2 weeks in October. I mean for Petes Sake, we are talking about only 6 weeks away. Its not as though some of us dont want to go away, a lot do and its not just local flights as well, its international ones that can be booked up very quickly and its now far too late for any deals, so we will pay over the odds for the fare as well. The school hasnt told us. Right ! My arse. The school knows exactly when it is closing, it is again a power trip by somebody so we the poor sods at the front line get to know last.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Tempting Tuesday

Aw F**** just spent 15 minutes typing in a post and the f*********** connection crashed. ********* **********

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Thursdays Tales

OK, finished another day but still feeling awful fromt his cold thing I have, so it was another workbook catch up day or copy this into your books and shut up day depending on the class. Its extremely lazy and bad form but I just wasnt feeling up to anything else.

Rumours are flying around that we are no longer allowed to raise our voices to the students anymore, either inside or outside the classrooms. I am defeinately do it less than last year outside the classroom but maybe as much inside. I dont like doing it, but when you have 20 kids all talking, it can be very effective. No doubt this will be officially confirmed in the office meeting tomorrow along with what holidays we will be having in October- I wont hold my breath though. About the holidays I mean.

It really is pathetic, they will no doubt use the usual tactics of blaming the school and telling us at the start of October we have 7 days off at the end of the month but have to come into the office for 3 weeks to sit around doing sod all. 7 freaking days of holiday at less than 3 weeks notice - thats really useful for people trying to get back home to America or Canada or the UK. NOT!

I dont see the point of spending a full day travelling to suffer jet lag to have to travel back 5 days later to be on time to start school again and suffer jet lag.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Tuesdays Terrors

OK, another batch of lessons done and here we go with another rant. Well, Ok, not so much a rant but a tantrum, er no, more of a whinge really.

During the breaks I am finding that a lot of times kids have been coming into the rooms we teach in and basically re-arranging everything, go into the drawers in the teachers desk, drawing on the whiteboard and generally stealing stuff. Not big stuff, but markers, rulers etc that were in my desk. Now ok, you might say I shouldn't be leaving stuff in there but why shouldn't I? I really don't want to have to carry everything around with me all the time. Bugger that for a laugh. One of these days, I am going to go up during a break and catch the little sods at it and give them hell. ( I wish )

back to rant mode, last week the fat yank was asking about these little tin flipper things that are all the rage witht he kids - they have cartoon characters on them and they basically play some conquering game about how it bounces or not with the winner keeping the losing lids. Anyway, I said I had some on my shelf, another guy gets them and brings them to the FY who then plays with them in his hands like a deck of cards for the next hour and then buggers off with them never to return them! What a tosser. Its not that big a deal that its a monetary loss as they were confiscated from kids in the class anyway, but I was giving them back out as rewards. In a way I would like to ask him what he's done with them to get them back but the less I speak to him the better as far as I am concerned.

One of these days, I am going to brighten up this drab blog with a picture or two. Unfortunately, the software Google uses to post pictures, doesn't work behind the firewall at work which means doing it at home over a chronicly bad telephone line. So it may be a while.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Fridays Fits

On Wednesday we had a ceremony for the Queens birthday and we were all supposed to go down for it. As it turned out, I was sort of in another place ( mentally ) when the very muted request came to go down - result, I missed it. It has to be said the first one ever in 3 years. At the end of the day, the project manager asked me into the office for a little chat and told me off for not going. I sat there and just said yes, ok etc I couldn't really see the point of arguing the toss. But the thing was, who told him, because he wasn't there in the morning. Hmm, could it be, our friend the equally spineless and now appears to be the totally backstabbing untrustworthy Assistant project manager who told him? Probably. This is the guy who will talk to you and say the PM is a tosser, totally incompetent and then you agree and say similar things then when the PM comes in, he runs over and tells him what you said!

Today, we had another ceremony for Virgin Mary and we had to present flowers to the idol on stage. What a waste of time. Its the same every time, lets get the farang out to parade in view of the parents and not take any eral part of the school. Jokeville, Arizona.

On the subject of the gatherings, you can guarantee that within 5 minutes of it starting, the casualties will start. The ones who basically feel ill or piss themselves or whatever. I counted after 15 minutes, 6 being lead away, two going off by themselves, one actually being carried out because he was unconscious and 2 with the first gagging signs of vomiting and one actually vomiting. To be fair, the courtyard area we hold the ceremonies on is quite nice in the mornings if you are on your own but when they put the best part of 2000 kids in their it becomes very hot and uncomfortable and unless you are on the outside, no breath of fresh air at all. Add to that the diet of orangeade, cola and whatever crap the have been eating before school adds up to a guaranteed nausea situation.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Tearful Tuesday

Today is a relatively quiet day for me, teaching the first two periods and then the last one, which gives me a great big hole to fill during the middle of the day. Sometimes this is quite handy if I am not feelign well or am just hungover, go home for a couple of hours kip and then come back refreshed for the last one. Would prefer it the other way around but c'est la vie.

I splashed out last week and bought a DVD player. So have spent a lot of time watchig movies, which is a good and bad thing as it stops me from getting out and about at the weekends and stops me doing other things like updating the web site and writing or phoning people.

I have a confession. I like Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. What can I say, I am outed. I know its a bit gay but its reasonably tongue in cheek and doesn't take itself too seriously unlike some other american tv stuff so boo sucks to you if you don't like it. I am going through the dilemma of what to buy. Do I buy the trashy american blockbusters that will gladly fill in a rainy afternoon when too much thought isn't required or do i buy the classic films that require concentration and kudos to ones collection? Decisions, decisions.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Moody Monday & Covers

Well, here we are back at work again after a lazy weekend and Friday. Well, to be honest it was lazy as I was actually ill and didnt really have the energy to do anything.

Which sort of leads into the topic of todays little rant. Doing covers for other teachers not there for one reason or another ie illness or meetings or .... Some teachers do take this quite seriously and actually try to teach, some take worksheets in and let the kids do them and some just go in and show a video for the whole period. Now, being honest, I really like the easy life and take the path of least resistance but when it comes to doing covers I do get that little pang of guilt and end up trying to teach them something. It may not be what the original teacher wanted but somethign all the same. Which brings me to my classes I missed on Friday and it seems like all of them actually had teachers that used the book and taught them something - halleluyaaah! We have more than one person here whose idea of doing covers, it to arrive at the class 10 minutes late, let the kids out 10 minutes early and show them a video while they sit in the corner of the room and watch the video with them.

And talking of videos, at the end of our exams we all really decided to give the kids a treat and show them one ( hopefully the first of the year). We have quite a well stocked video resource room in the school and one of our teachers went down for hte first time. She asked what to get and show the kids ( 7,8,9 year olds ) and one of the titles suggested was Kiss Of The Dragon. The one with Bridget Fonda and Jet Li where she is a prostitute in Paris and he is a Chinese uncover cop and they both go on the run from crooked French police. So lots of guns, violence and explosions. I have no idea if the Thai teacher knew what was in the film but back in the UK it was classed as an "18" in other words, no one under 18 was allowed to see it in the movies and they give it out to Prathom 3. Unreal.

We sometimes joke that most of the films are in the library for the teachers and not the kids given the content ( a lot of "12"s, "15" and a couple of "18"s. But after that comment, maybe its not, maybe they are all for the kids.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Wicked Wednesday

Well, we are now back teaching after the joyful weekend that was the start of Bhuddist Lent.

And in true incompetant arrangements, what did we do on Saturday? Thats right we had a Cultural Awareness Seminar. Yup, they arranged one on a Bhudda day. DOH!

And it was all very basic about status as teachers and how we shouldnt dress down and we have to be smart all the time etc etc. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ But it was livened up by the presense of 4 female teachers and one in particular who when the subject had been broached and was asked if she had any questions produced a 3 minute speech. We then split into groups male and female to discuss this point.

As I was sitting fairly close to the female group I could semi listen in. It was hilarious. We are invisible, no one wants to talk to us, thai women look down on us because we are competition. Er no, thai women look down on you because you are wearing no bra, a low cut top, a mini skirt and are about 30kg too big to be wearing an outfit like that. ( well, not her specifically ) Dress respectfully and you will be given respect. How many thai women when bending down to pick something up will try and close their blouse to stop anything ( as in bra/cleavage ) being seen? Quite a few. how many falang women will do that, not too many.

They also complained that they are all strong women for coming out here and yadadada..... One in particular was the sort of woman who talks at you you rather than to you. At home, if you smile at a woman its a look of horror, what do you want etc etc that you get back. Here you usually get a smile back. A friend was in his local bar on Saturday night and was with another couple of guys and some female tourists were at another table talking to the manager. They walked over to talk to the girls and the manager and got instantly shut out with a "why are you talking to us attitude" from the girls. And they wonder why white guys dont want to speak to them anymore.