Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Marking Dazezzzzzzzzzzzz

Two days into the marking and it's boring already. It's about half and half who has completed the marking and those who haven’t. So far, I have finished all the marking and made a start on the report cards.

Oh boy, are they a laugh. They always are, trying to think of as many different ways of saying

Somchai is not as thick as two short planks as that would give him more credit that he deserves. He possibly has as much common sense and intelligence as the shoe polish I put on my shoes this morning. Knowing Somchai he would actually probably try to eat the shoe polish thinking it was a new type of sweet cake.

My current favourite at the moment is that Somchai has made steady progress through the year. Of course, this hides a multitude of sins. What I mean on some of them is that he has made progress, at the end of the year he was remembering to bring pencils and books to class. Of course, sometimes I mean he did actually make some progress with his English!

As I said last week we had been told to turn up full time this week and next. I suppose predictably the first day there was a quiet revolt and most folk had departed the scene by about 1.30 in the afternoon.

Today was even worse with a mass disappearance by midday. I think it's going to get worse not better somehow. As well as that we have people turning up late. Surprisingly, the latest I noticed was just after 9.30am. But then again, there are a couple of people who didn’t turn up at all over the last couple of days.

As far as I am aware this still means they get a 2000Baht fine for going over their allotted sick days. This is something I really can’t figure as the couple of people involved are always going on about how much extra money they have to save or spend or their rent or whatever. But then they go and waste 2000B by not turning up in the easiest part of the year. Who knows!

One of the late guys is a guy that in his own words was a “senior manager in the aerospace industry for 20 years”. Unfortunately this guy is one of the most self obsessed individuals I have seen in a while. He seems to be totally self absorbed and unconscious to the effect that he has around him. Among his nicknames are “The Professor” and ‘Mr Slurpee”. He seems incapable of drinking or eating something without giving the full food expert effect of slurping a drink around his mouth or the food before swallowing it. He sometimes sounds like Skippy the Kangaroo. Where or when he got this habit I have no idea but eeeeuuuuuuuucccchhhhh! He also has the habit of sounding so supercilious when he is talking to people as though nobody is worth talking to.

One pleasant surprise was that beside the library rooms where we are based is a computer room that the kids use during term time – which basically means that we can go on the internet. Also because there are about 20 odd pcs it means that there is enough for everybody to go round, so no arguments of the “you’ve been on for 1 hour and I’ve been waiting...” type.

Tomorrow is Maha Bucha Day so an official holiday and see you all on Thursday.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Last Day of Teaching & More Contract Details

Last day was spent just playing games with the kids and some of them were alright, some of them were just out of control and didn’t want to listen even to instructions on how to play. Idiots. They knew they would be getting something special as I told them not to bring books., immediately of course they started to go apeshit. As soon as they came into the room they moved all the chairs to in front of the tv. Why they thought they would be getting a video is beyond me as they have never got one all semester and they only had one or two lessons last semester.

It does look as though that will be the last time I ever see those kids as it appears that I am not going to get an interview with the school. Some who have applied have got interviews but I haven’t received a reply. Shame in a way but possibly it's good overall, stops the rut of the same old same old, new school environment etc etc

Drum roll please drummmmmmmmm tksssh!

We had the meeting to confirm what was happening for the rest of the semester and it was, in reality, quite boring with no major riots, arguments, storming of the gates, lynchings etc.

Whether it was deliberate or not it seems to have been that the rumours that were coming out last week were wide of the mark. There is no unpaid leave, no option to get away early etc. But the downside is that for the next two weeks we are going to have work full time in a couple of rooms off the school library. Hmmm. The rooms themselves are nice as meeting rooms but totally unsuitable for 20 teachers for two solid weeks. What are we doing during this time? Doing marking and writing report cards. OK. That takes care of 3 days if it's approached in even a slow but steady manner.

After that we have to work in the main offices preparing “Teaching Portfolios”. These are going to be used for the schools who have no resources or have very few. Riiiiight. Are these new schools? Exisiting schools? If they are existing schools surely the teachers there have created prepared some stuff. Also they know far better than we what year level and language level the kids are, what the class size is, what the school likes the teachers to do etc etc etc. Without knowing that, we could be preparing material that will never be used. In fact odds are, that is exactly what will happen. The work will go into a binder somewhere and never be looked at or used.

Basically the idea is to take the best ideas that we used during the year and write instructions on how to do the exercise. Now the question is, what was wrong with the material that we have been preparing, creating and using and storing in various binders during the school year? Apparently the answer is that they are not specific enough. Huh? They want more specific and detailed portfolios not just a scatter gun approach and the FUD is going to set up teams to create these. Wow, I can hardly wait.

Also because we are going to be in the main office we need to work full time and wear shirts and ties. Shirt and tie? Why? I didn’t wear a shirt and tie when I worked there at weekends. But no biggie I suppose. Full time for two weeks? Why? Again it really would take only a couple of days to do if it's approached in a steady manner. Traditionally the non contact time is reduced hours, something like 9 til 2. Why are they saying full time now? Who knows?

And on March 18 they are going to throw a party for us. A PARTY?!?! It will be interesting to see just how many people turn up as this is the last day of servitude and it will mean freedom – at least as far as turning up goes. They still hold the back pay over us and the end of year completion bonus will get paid at the end of April. So just for the moment, to stop burning bridges I wont name the names yet.

One other thing that came up was the announcement that there could be new schools for us to go to next year and that certain people had already been approached and offered jobs and that in the next couple of weeks more people would be approached. Age old story isn’t it.

The other thing that came up is that the school could and probably will cancel our visas on March 31 which means unless a new school picks us up very soon we need to go through the whole work permit process again and I HAVE to leave the country to get a new non imm B visa. Wonderful, not. Apparently the FUD never thought about what will happen to us. Even the ones who are going to be kept on by the agency!! I suppose I should be shocked but unfortunately I am not, it's just another example of the lack of forethought. It also more importantly shows the effect when people have a 11 month contract. If you have a 12 month contract, the work permit runs to the same date. With an 11 month one you have a gap every year and probably have to do a visa run and scramble around.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Beginning of the End

Well, today saw the first of the classes I will not see again.

It was not a sad occasion I have to say. I was actually pretty joyful with one exception. This Prathom 2 kid who is quiet, hard working, clever, listens and has a great attitude. How the hell did he get into the school :) He is actually the ONLY one out of 140 kids I have never had to say sit down or be quiet to at some point over the year. I will miss teaching him. If they were all like him I think my job would be 3 times as hard because they would all want to work and not goof off. But also 3 times more enjoyable because I would actually be teaching. This kid, given a choice between a colouring in sheet or a word search will do the word search first. Everytime. So to mark the occasion, I bought a children's illustrated dictionary and thesaurus and made up a little award certificate for him. Gawd!! I am turning soft!!!!!

I wont be doing that for anyone else. None of them deserve it

Next week we are moving to somewhere new as the staffroom is being refurbished. Don't know where yet though. Someone asked this morning and got told by the FUD that it was somewhere and he would need to find out. Oh, yes, its over there vaguely pointing down the corridor. Where? Its a room just over there. Where? Its a room they have given us ( the school ).
Where? I think its near the library. So fucking typical of this guy. Knows fuck all, is sorted in a job for next year unlike most of us, so cant be bothered to do anything. PRAT. When I leave, I am going to name the name so everyone can avoid him as much as they can.

Well, we have a meeting tomorrow to presumably tell us when we are to be released and where we are going next week and indeed what time we need to come in - we normally get cut hours during report card time.

The rumours are still flying with March 18th being the favourite release date but I heard a new one that apparently the school wanted us not only out of the staffroom but also out of the school tomorrow!! This may have been extended by a week to let us do the report cards. But the funny thing is that a lot of the rumours are originating from the FUDS but through different people. So, is the situation changing that fast so when they speak to one person its this and then later when they speak to another its that? Are they making it up as they go along. Do they actually know anything themselves? God only knows! And they are probably trying to keep him off the circulation list.

But, I found the memo they gave us last year for the early release so I will bring that if they try anything stupid tomorrow like let us away early but no pay.

Lets wait and see.

Now, come on folks click that top thai sites blue square on the right, I am still not in the top 100. I mean for petes sake, I only need 42 hits to get to number 100.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Exam Week Part 3 and Contract Endings

I wasn't too good yesterday so took a day off. Why not, I am entitled to 3 days a semester and this was only my second day.

Anyway, come back and find out someone has given a class an exam in my absence. Bollocks! Now what I am I going to do for the other 2 periods? Teach?! :)

It seems like the scores in the P3 reading and writing are considerably lower than they were last semester. No wonder. It is really a totally new type of exam they got from any others we have given them. I think the average mark will come in about 50-55% which is shocking when you think about it. But it all comes back to the same thing, that if they actually do some work themselves in the class instead of me having to pull them reluctantly in the direction of work, they would be finding things a lot easier.

Now onto another end of term possible horror story. As you know the agency lost the contract with the school as of March 31. Come the beginning of March, the school will be closed. No thai staff, no janitors, nothing and next week we have to leave our staffroom for refurbishment. The agency has no new school positions to offer anyone and only a couple were approached ( quietly ) for corporate full time teaching - and that was only if they were already doing it. So basically the situation is this. Out of 20 teachers here and another 5 at the senior branch of the school, about 4 are staying with the agency in an admin or corporate capacity. No one has been given a job in another school because the agency hasn't got any new contracts.

The ones they now do have are very small, around 5 teachers in, maybe 4 schools. There is a nasty rumour now going around that when the semester ends here in a couple of weeks and all the report cards have been marked Etcetera that instead of - as has been done before - giving a bonus of a couple of weeks holidays and letting people go early, they are instead wanting to make people come into the main office to do "make work". They are apparently thinking that teachers can do this or can leave early but with NO PAY.

So lets clarify

This year. With no job to look forward to, no schools to prepare material for, they want 20 teachers to continue to report for work in the main office after finishing marking and report cards and cut out stuff from newspapers and prepare material for who knows or walk away early without pay.

Last year. With teachers coming back or going back home, we finished the marking, writing report cards and then sat around doing nothing for 3 weeks in our staffroom and they let us away a couple of weeks early.

If this is true and at the moment I don't know if it is for certain, it will be a total slap in the face for everyone who has worked here. The contract is ending so why not end it on a good note with a sense of "you have worked here for 2 or 3 years so thanks and goodbye". THE AGENCY HAS ALREADY BEEN PAID FOR THIS PERIOD. So, this is not a case of them losing out, it will be a case of them been penny pinching bastards. But, I will now hold my ire and fire until I know for certain. A thread on ajarn.com could be soon arriving.

There was supposed to be a meeting today to announce something - probably the end date and the end of term arrangements but it was cancelled. Supposedly because the school hasn't told the agency when it will cancel the work permits. This is the most worrying for me because it goes with the Visas. I want to go home in March if I get away early but I don't want to come back from holiday to find out that I have entered the country on a cancelled Visa.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Can't really think of anything much to say except ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZz same old same old.

The biggest announcement was that as of next week the assistant FUD is going to start deleting files off the pcs we use. Why? The pcs aren't ours, they aren't the agencys' so why is he deleting stuff? The only thing that will happen is that the EP teachers who use the pcs next year will get a laugh when they see the amount of crap thats been stored on them - funny pictures, letters home, avatars, holiday pictures and so on. Nothing interesting really.

On that subject the agency is now already starting to clear out the staffroom including all the worksheets and supplimentary material that we use. Ah well, we only have another 6 days teachign. Why would we want to have anythng to give the kids anyway?

And so far still no news on when we will be released from this hell that is called......... The FUD i no doubt enjoying the little sense of power he has in holding that information back.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Exam Week 2

Hey ho and the week progresses.

Its all much of a muchness which the kids trying to cheat - badly. You would think they would at least make an effort to try and hide the fact. Nah, that would mean having some sort of imagination and intelligence. Its just been the usual asking each other what does this mean, what did he say ( in the listening test ), looking at each others papers by blatently looking.

Today was one of the worst, I had one kid who actually held his paper up in front of his head to try and hide the fact that he was turning round to ask someone what the answer was. So, little clues on how not to get caught -
no 1, dont hold up bright white paper at head level. It shows up nicely in peripheral vision.
no 2, if you need to copy dont copy from the guy behind you. Turning your body kind of gives it away
no 3, dont try and stand up and walk over to another desk to borrow a pencil. Especially when I can see your pencil case full of them on your desk. DOH!
no 4, dont sit next to the dumbest kid in class and copy from him. A monkey has got more chance of writing the correct answer.
no 5, when you ask someone what the answer is, try to whisper not speak normally. Not all teachers are deaf.
no 6, at least try and see where the teacher is. Trying to copy when I am right behind you looking to see how you are doing is not a good time.

The job hunt continues with a couple of applications sent away today and a couple of rejections back, Hey ho.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Exam week Over - Part 1

Well, the first week has gone by.

Yesterday, 4 days into it, the FUD tells us that the speaking tests and listening tests are to be out of 10 marks, except the P3 which are 15. Oh goody and what happens if you have already done those tests? Ah well, never mind.

The writing test for P2 is so easy they are finishing it in about 3 minutes. No I am not joking. 3 sections where the have to put a tick or a cross into a box in part 1 a single word, in part 2 rearrange a body part name, so a single word and then in part 3 write a single word - name the object. 15 questions.

The writing test for P3 is 35 questions long. The quickest I have had someone do it is 23 minutes.

The first section they have to match a picture and a word to a definition sentence. Now, you would think that because the pictures and sentences are on different pages that they would be facing each other. Logical yes? Umm, too logical. The pages are on opposite sides on one sheet of paper.

The second section is a picture and then a series of questions about the picture.
Now, you would think that because the pictures and questions are on different pages that they would be facing each other. Logical yes? Umm, too logical. The pages are on opposite sides on one sheet of paper.

And so the stupidity continues.

The next section gives a sentence and then 3 possible replies. They have to pick the most appropriate one.

The last section is a series of paragraphs and they have to answer questions by reading the paragraphs. Nothing in the book we use really prepares them for this, so most haven't a clue.

As someone else said to me when I asked the question why did they ( our management ) do this, why didn't they think? Thinking is not required here.

Now, you could say that they don't know how to do this as I haven't prepared them through the semester. A fair point to a certain extent but then since we the teachers, don't actually see the tests until about a week before the tests start and the exam we do is from a different syllabus, then I don't think we can really be held accountable.

Oh yes, please click the little blue box on the right, I would like to see if it works. If it does, this site would get into the top 100 thai sites.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

More Exam Stuff & Moving


Oh dear, 4 days of exams done. What is the boy zz doing zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Saying that stupid question again and again is doing my head in. Some of the kids have caught on and are talking about the test. IN a way I am actually quite pleased as it does show at least some level of intelligence is out there :)? I had one kid come out, sit down where I am doing the test and said "Beach". Good answer and one of the first I ask. But I hadn't asked him a question yet and the flashcard was upside down so he could only see the white backing!!!

Other beauties today. A kid that said yes or no to everything. I mean everything.

"what is your name?"
"what is your name?"
"how are you?"
"how are you?"
etc etc etc

oh dear. And of course you had the ones who went
"where are they?"
The mother, father, and two children are at the beach.
"what is he doing?"
he is sleeping on a towel on the beach
"what is he doing?"
He is swimming and looking at the shark coming towards him

Oh to have some sort of graded class. I would love to have a class of roughly the same level. It would be so much easier to teach. You would know exactly what the expectations would b. You could plan so many more interesting activities and challenges for the kids or basically go "WHAT IS YOUR NAME?" "MY NAME IS________" and give them colouring in to do.

But of course that wont happen. It would be to much against the whole notion of not being noticed, not sticking your neck out, not being different from the rest. Screw the education just be the same as everyone else.

As markign comes up, I am so tempted to grade accordign to how much I liek the kid. But I don't. I do give them a fair crack. Maybe on half points, if the kid is a trier I will give a bit more leeway but I don't turn a wrong answer into a right one. I will just get them on the report card sections for attitude, behaviour and other comments.

Seeing as how this is the last time we see the kids ( maybe ) a few of us are being really tempted to give a real report rather than a "positive" one. I would love to see the faces of the parents and school when we write something like " Although Somchai can produce high quality work, this only happens when he can shut up for more than 30 seconds at a time, isn't running around annoying the teacher or other students or isn't doing something he thinks is more important like cutting his rubber in half with his ruler. He will make a fine Minister for Education someday."

Our jobs have been advertised in the papers, so if we want to work at this school again, we need to reapply for them. Could be interesting. Anyone who is staying on will be working in the Thai staffrooms next year. Our staffroom is going to be renovated before the start of next term for the EP program teachers who will then take it over. They have in fact started already by demolishing the little store room we had across the way.

The discussion is now when do we need to leave the staffroom and how long are we going to be held to our contract. Depending on what version you hear, the school want us out of the staffroom by Feb 18 ( the last day we see the kids ) or the following week. The agency want us to move to the school library to work on report cards and do marking. Hmmm Is it secure, does it have a phocoto copier to help us copy our cvs and stuff as we are looking for new jobs - note to self, look at ajarn tomorrow - does it have a computer or computers to share amongst 20 teachers, does it have a secure area to store the report cards and papers etc etc

If the agency has their way, they will hold us til the last possible moment. I dare say the school couldn't be arsed one way or another as long as the report cards were done. So anything from March 4th to March 31st could be the release date. And oh yes, the agency is still not officially offering anyone any work for next year. BWAAHHAHAAAHHAAA!!!!!

It has offered work and some have accepted it. But not officially. Enough to make you sick.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Exams & Other Stuff

Well, got a phone call last night from one of the corporate jobs I was after.

Big multinational, looks good. Ish. Go in for the interview today having bought new trews - smart as anything they look. And yes I am wearing a belt with them ( Private joke ). Get to the interview and am given an english test. Right, without looking it up who can give me a sentence in the

simple present tense - easy isn't it.
simple future
simple past No problems !!
present perfect er ok
future perfect
past perfect
present progressive huh?!
present continuous
future perfect progressive
perfect progressive

Yeesh, that had me struggling. I can never remember all of them, never use all of them more importantly. As well as that proof reading, inserting the right preposition, suffix, prefix, describing what the most important things about teaching corporate english are ( I was tempted to say the fat wedge at the end of the month but resisted successfully), give the comparative and superlative forms of words. Ye gads it was worse than my English Higher all those years ago. 9 bloody pages of test!!!

The interview was a bit wild - unstructured and all over the place. Typically Thai I suppose. By the sounds of it, it will be half proofreading and being the pet native speaker and half doing in house training. Hmmm Need to see what sort of salary they offer, if they offer me the job. They were quite cagey about that, wanting to know what I am on and not saying what they would offer.

As well as that I splashed out on a new electric shaver last night, so I don't need to suffer the Jack the Ripper look each morning.

And speaking of tests, the little darlings continue on their merry way to destroying all hope and feeling of humanity I have towards them.

How are you? I say.
Nine years old, they say.


and again I say


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