Sunday, October 17, 2004

I Can See The Pub From Here!

The last day passed without major excitement and it was as predicted, a mainly teacher run session with only a very little input from the trainer. But at least we finally got a handout!

So last day of term and it was celebrated in the traditional manner of going out and getting totally slaughtered straight from work.

Enjoy the holidays folks and see you whenever as I wont be posting much here, down the fact that I will be somewhere better than in front of a computer screen. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Almost Last Day Of Term - Yipee!

OK, something a little different this time, it’s a little competition. Lets see how many you can get.

These are all initials of methodologies of teaching


I will even throw in a little prize if you get them all. Todays’ training was much the same with basically the teachers training ourselves with different delivery methods. Hey ho. At least it’s the last day tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Teacher Training -Methodolgies

Today was another day that was for me and many others a waste of time receiving unfocused and superficial training.

We went into the room to be met with a whole load of initials on the whiteboard and are then asked over the next 15 minutes to guess what teaching approaches they represented. WTF?? Can anyone see the value in this, apart from to waste time and to possibly once again prove the intellect of the instructor and the ignorance of the audience? Indeed that very question of what’s the point was raised ( what's the point ) and the response was this is what we are covering today. Ok, very good but why not just write them up on the board or prepare a hand out or something that would have been more productive? It would have saved 15 minutes of no idea, don’t know responses.

For the next 2 and a half hours we had the Readers Digest condensed guide to TEFL teaching. Mainly from the teachers not the trainer. He gave out a sheet with a brief description of a method to groups and then the groups had to give a 5 minute presentation. Err, ok and do we get an overall summary handouts at the end? No, have we been given anything to keep and refer to later? No. Can we take any notes? Well yes, but the notes would be based on another teachers 15 minutes of reading one sheet of paper about a method. Not a proper course researched, compiled and delivered by a teacher trainer and which you could refer back to at a later date. Again nor was the content really focused on how to adapt it to the specific needs of the different age groups and situations. Just the we will throw everything up in the air and we rely on you to decide and pick out what is or what is not useful to you.

Is this better than no training at all? Yes, it is but not by much. It is so superficial, ill conceived, unfocused and unprepared that to actual concentrate for the whole period and mine for the golden nuggets that you can use is very very difficult.

Tomorrow brings the promise of more activities that are presented as being “learner centred” but in reality are ones where they have thought what else can we do to keep them occupied and save as much work as possible for us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Teacher Training Part 3

So, onto todays training.

More people arrived from the others schools that work for the agency so we have almost 30 people there who range from Prathom 1 to Mathayom 6 teachers.

Gander is doing the training today and its all about techniques. OK I think could be useful and he starts. He then does a 50 minute lesson entirely in Turkish and tells a story. We are supposed – in groups, again after being sorted into different groups - to write the story down in Turkish, translate it into English and note the techniques used.

If you have been in a CELTA, TESOL course you will probably have gone through this exercise one to demonstrate the difficulties of new learners and ways of learning etc. On my course the actual demonstration was about 15 minutes long and involved the Quizennaire (?) Rods and we did colours and numbers. After that we moved onto discussing the points raised and ways to overcome them.

Today the foreign language section lasted 50 minutes. Yup, 50 minutes of him “acting” and talking Turkish. Then we talked about the translation and then some of the techniques. All in, this lasted 3 hours. 3 hours that could and should have been condensed into around 50 minutes to 1 hour of focused activity. Instead it was one long rambling mess that most people were bored of after 10 minutes. Then he makes the point that he knows that “we are unmotivated and uninterested and that we didn’t want to be there because it’s the end of term so how do we think the students feel?” yes, we are unmotivated because, you aren’t a proper trainer, it’s the end of term, its unfocused, you are treating us like students, not grown up experienced teachers, you are giving the same training to Prathom and Mathayom teachers and we know you don’t care because if you did, you would be doing at the start of the term.

It’s this point that gets me. Almost every training we have is across such a wide range of age groups that it’s a scatter gun approach and they hope that we pull something out the multitude of pellets that’s shot our way and make it useful.

Reading some of the literature online about teacher training, the vast majority of opinions are that is has to be focused, it has to age specific and has to be done by people qualified to do the job. As far as I am aware this guy hasn’t got anything more than a CELTA ( education qualification wise ). In which case, I can do the job as well as he can. Give me the internet and some idea of what you want taught and I am sure I could come up with a decent course.

And of course the other point is the timing, if they are serious why are we doing it at the end of term when we are mentally shot and just wanting to go away for the two weeks holiday we have coming up. Why not do it at the start of the term when any points raised will be fresh in our minds and will be effective?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Teacher Training Part 2

As the original version was lost when I was trying to back it up this one is going to be a bit more vitriolic just as payback for the 15 minutes lost typing.

Anyway, so there we are on Friday with some of us having received an email – sent the same day – saying that the training would take place next week between 9 and 4. The mornings were supposedly training and group sessions with the afternoon’s preparation and group work for the next day. F@ck that for life on the ocean wave. However, after talking to the FUD he unsurprisingly shifted blame to the Training and Curriculum manager who we shall call Gander and it was all his fault yaddaa yaddaa yaa. I have no idea if it was or not but it would suit his character as it comes over as a typical corporate type who will brown nose those above and crap on those below.

So, this morning comes around and at 9 am there are still folk coming in, so around 20 minutes later everybody is still talking but I am suddenly aware that there are an awful lot less people than there had been a few minutes before. A quick check revealed that the FUD had come in and told people to move out to the room. I had not heard him at all, the person I was speaking to had heard him talking but didn’t make out the words. Obviously he had not got everyone’s attention first to make sure we could hear him and waited to see if we had heard and understood the situation. No problem we thought, the assistant FUD was there and we could go with him. Err, no, he didn’t know where we were supposed to go exactly.

OK then, lets just wander round the building until we stumble on them. No one was in sight as they had all disappeared so we set off looking in various classrooms until a cleaner saw us looking round and pointed to a room and indeed that’s where everyone was and we trooped in a few minutes late.

Now let’s distil the facts and consider them
1) an instruction was given to leave the staffroom and go to a previously unknown location and it wasn’t checked whether it was heard by everyone and acted on
2) the assistant FUD didn’t know where the training room was
3) we were told by a cleaner where the others were!
4) We turned up late delaying the training

Very professional. NOT!

Anyway, we go in and Gander is there looking typically geeky and he decides to do a “warmer” and mixes everyone up so we aren’t sitting in the original position and then spends the next 10 minutes explaining why he did it and trying to get us to participate. Unfortunately he waffles on and misses really one of the most important points – authority reinforcement – as well as other minor ones. Most of us agreed that after going to the students classroom to collect them, get them all lined up and walking to our classrooms, what we needed to do was to cool them down not warm them up. Yep, that’s what we need, someone who has never taught here telling us how to teach.

Could the slightly modified old saying could be true. Those who do, do. Those who can’t teach and those who can’t teach, train?

And at that he said the rest of the days training would be by the FUD. Ah ok, we have a curriculum and training manager who apparently doesn’t do either. Oi vey!

The FUD comes up and the transformation is remarkable. It was like the visit of someone from head office to a little branch where the eccentric staff do things in their own way and pretend during the visit that they do things normally and don’t use the office pcs to run an internet cafĂ© on the sidelines for locals and so on. Then when the boss is gone everyone is relived and gets back to doing things their own way.

And he begins to waffle on and umm errr yes ummm quite right yes umm maybe umm errr and I begin to tune out and suddenly realise that people were leaving again – a quick translation from the person beside me informed me that we had in fact stopped for a coffee break. Great 9.50ish. On entering the staffroom we all sort of looked at each other with a “what the hell was that all about?” look. Another waste of time and effort.

Around 20 minutes later we go back up and find out the schedule for the week. The morning is supposed to be training and in the afternoon free study and preparation for the next day. The study can take place just about anywhere we are told. In other words we can go home or stay or do what we want. See what I mean about eccentric local ways?
We are also told that we are going to have to prepare a syllabus for the next session to give to the parents. Er, don’t we have one already? Isnt that why we have a curriculum manager and project manager and assistant project manager. Apparently not. The answer is, the one we have will not be accurate and they want to produce one with dates and topics and that sort of junk. In other words, its just for show to give to the school and isn’t of any real importance at all.

After that gem, we are given a questionnaire about the semester so far – how it went, how relevant were the books and so on and so forth. After filling them in we go into groups to discuss them and then into different groups to get further ideas. Not a bad idea if the conversations had been focused but of course since we ranged from Mathayom to Prathom not all the ideas could be used across the range.

One idea from Cleric was to introduce a teaching assistant to Prathom 1 classes as he could only teach about 10 minutes out of the 50 minute period. Unfortunately the way he put it, only revealed that he couldn’t control his classes and the more he spoke the deeper and deeper his hole became. I noticed quite a few heads shaking on this. Sorry, been there taught that level and got the buggers under control and taught them a damm site longer on average than 10 minutes. Did I lose control of the class sometimes? Yes. Often? No. Its called technique and combined lots of patience, some intelligence and with a dash humour you can teach and sometimes the best reward is the one worked most hard to achieve which most definitely is the description of what you have to do in Prathom 1 – WORK. And that is one thing he doesn’t like to do. He openly admits to showing videos as rewards. Ok that’s fine every now and again but he does it in the majority of his classes and that makes it routine, not a reward. I would much rather give out a worksheet for the kids who have finished than show a video. At least with a colouring in sheet you can still use it to teach while they are enjoying colouring in – what colour is this? What is this? How many…? Etc With a video they are gone and not learning.

Oops went on about him quite a lot so will draw the line there and call it a day. Lets see what tomorrow brings.

Teacher Training Elite


Just spent 15 minutes typing stuff and it vanished again.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Teacher Turnover

Since I have started at this school 3 years ago I have probably worked with around 70 people. I think there are only now 2 others still here from the time I started. I say around as I have no accurate record, could I list them all? Probably not, many came and went before the week was out.
To be fair, this does include temp teachers, but the problem is, as it is for so many schools here that you lose count. People come and go and you develop the Vietnam 1000 yard stare and the "they're a newbie so lets not talk to them as they probably will leave soon, so there is no point getting to know them" attitude. Which of course sometimes can have the old self perpetuating theory. You dont talk to them so they think the place is unfriendly so they leave so another person comes in and you dont talk to them.......

This year it seemed to have been reasonably stable, as at the start of the year we had a full complement of staff as well as a cover teacher. Whoohooo! A great change from the previous year where it took a couple of months to get a full staffroom and almost everyone was doing 3 or 4 extra lessons a week to cover the gaps. As time progressed it got worse as the first one dropped due to the fact they didnt like teaching kids and then another but somehow we kept up more or less to full strength. But now, come the end of term we have got Little Cleric going, the cover teacher, 2 others and rumours of another 2 disappearing. We have been told that the start of the new term will see us up to strength so wait and see.

So the next thing is now WHY? Obvious reasons some of them, some people are going home to the UK, US for good, some going to better paying jobs, some better conditions, some leave because they shouldnt have been there in the first place, some realise they hate kids, can't teach or can't teach them that young. Then you add in the corporate culture.......

We have been sitting here for the last 2 weeks basically doing feck all. Officially we have been marking and writing report cards. This means we had around 30 cards or exams to mark per day. ok, thats 45 minutes out the way, what do we do for the rest of the day? I know! Crosswords, reading the paper, talking, checking the internet and then going home after 2 hours. Then next week we have training the agency now want to last ALL DAY! The attitude of the training manager appears to be that since we are paid we can be there all day. Err, well we have just been sitting around doing feck all for 10 days and only after that they are worried about us going home early? Add that to the fact that we suddenly now have to get back into thinking mode and the Thai teachers have already departed the school, the EP teachers are also away.......

They organise things like this to just dig the knife in a little further into the backs and make sure they appear to be the all conquering bosses. Pathetic.

Nonsense, tish, pish and waffle.

By the way, I have actually gone back into this post to re-edit and add in a couple of extra bits as this is usually typed in one go with the attendant mistips and rambling and ranting thoughts. Sometimes I cant be bothered going back into a post to even spell check and check for signs of intelligence but since this is now on the front page of ajarn, I felt it a required duty. Don’t worry, the normal ramblings will return soon.

PS Billy Connolly, I hope you are happy now that Ken Bigley has now died. For those of you that dont know, Billy said live on stage last week that he hoped the kidnappers would just get on with and kill him. He was booed by a couple of people in the audience but he told them to "fuck off". I liked BIlly but not now, I hope you rot in hell for those comments.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Boring Days

Here we are sitting in the staffroom, far above the real world, everyone is feeling blue and there is nothing here to do.

Apologies to David Bowie for that but we have now finished writing the report cards and have literally nothing to do for the next 3 days, but we are still supposed to come in. I suppose it is alright being paid for doing nothing but why not just give us an official holiday instead of this stupidity? The school doesnt need us here, its only the agency that tells us to come in.

How to fill in the day. Go on the internet, do a crossword, read the newspaper go to the pub for lunch and end up staying there until well passed sober time. Or should that be well pissed sober time?

Next week should be interesting as we have training. Lets see if its actually useful or again just a waste of time.