Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Moving towards Xmas

More odds and sods from the mad house coming up.

We all thought the rainy season had passed and we were now into the safe period where we could walk in complete safety. Yesterday proved us wrong again. With the late afternoon downpour, if you were wearing the wrong shoes you would be slipping and sliding all over the place as though you were on ice.

Most of the school is that typical shiny stone which turns to ice when wet and you see people walking around like they were 70 years old. Of course what really helps matters is that on the balconies the edge actually goes upwards trapping all the water on the walking area.

Add to that the way they contructed the walkway between the new building and the main section is another area of hazards, we should be getting danger money! They have got it set up so that there are two types of ground tiles. One is rough and provides loads of grip no matter what you wear and one is a lovely smooth one which will send you onto your arse if you dont watch out Now guess which stone they chose to make the floor of the pedestrian bridge Yup the shiny smooth one. So if it is raining, we have the choice of getting wet in between the staffroom andthe classroom or walking very slowly on the ice rink and be dry.

When you ask
many people why they are here teaching and not somewhere else they say "its not the money" and yet it seems to be those not here for the money who as soon as they are offered extra work jump at the chance and work evenings and or weekends. Strange that.

As far as teaching goes its been much of a muchness. The same old story of mangement telling we cant do this to the kids and we cant do that. We have now been told we cant issue our yellow cards as often as we have! The original idea was of course one yellow card was a chat with our headie and a red meant a chat with the parents. But of course, that changed when the headie told the kids a red card meant expulsion!! Ho hum.

This week has actually been surprisingly good though. Today I just wasnt up to it so did a quick demo on what I wanted and got the couple of smart kids in the class to "teach". I thought it might be a train wreck but surprise surprise it worked out fine and the kids enjoyed it. Normally I would have thought you could have done it for about p3 maybe p4 up but not for p2. I will continue with the experiment as much as I can and see what happens.

As is common in most of the "better" schools they have a lot of stuff for alumni and we recently had the homecoming dinner. It was really a boring evening with lots of Frank Sinatra songs - doobie doobie doo,do doobi doobie doo...... Why is it he is so popular in these things here? To mark the occasion those who attended got a free tie pin from the alumni. Whoohooo! The dinner itself was the usual thai affair of about 8 dishes all coming seperately and then being shared in the middle of the table. If you had been to one of those before you went to one of the side stalls to load up on the entrees just in case the main meals werent to your liking.

Around the edge of the dining area there were stalls selling various stuff including a Merc dealer. Yup. Oh it must be nice to be connected in Thailand.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Rules & Regulations

Well, the big meeting today was a damp squib in some ways.

The usual story of making it out to be dramatic when it wasnt. But, they are cracking down on some things - some doesnt change things for me and some do.

The boss was disappointed to see that only a couple of people were wearing the full uniform at the directors ceremony. Glad to see they were only talking about people who had the full uniform from last year but even we poor mortals who havent had it made up yet didnt quite escape as we need to make sure we have as much on as possible black trousers, white shirt - no stripes or spots, school tie.... zzzzz

Its funny how they are cracking down in our section so much but other programs get away with so much. I saw a guy come in today with a casual cotton shirt and jeans with no tie! How come he gets away with it but we dont? Hmm

The other thing is that this week, the teachers who werent teaching disapeared off wherever because the classes were cancelled. Unfortunately, it was very noticable in the matayom room so guess what. They are cracking down on it and every fucker is going to suffer now. Thanks a bunch guys. I had only 1 period in the whole week where i could go home for a couple of hours because of a free period around lunch and now, I cant go.

They have said that unless we are having lunch or doing an occasional 30 minute task, we must be in the staffroom. if we want to work in our classrooms we can but we must inform the head or assistant head beforehand!


Also, they dropped the bombshell that we are too have further observations. Now, you may be going observations, big deal. Well, yes, but they are going to do it unannounced. They are just going to turn up and observe you. No notice, they will just be there.

Oh how to make friends and improve moral amongst staff- chapter 3. Like most people, I am nervous at observations but accept them. But unnanounced? Despite them saying its all for our benefit and the school says they have to do it, it stinks of spying and distrust. Even if they gave you an hours notice or something like that it would be better.

And talking about the directors ceremony, it was as boring as something very boring indeed. IT was all in Thai and zzzzzzzzzzzzzz It was quite funny watching our lot against the thai teachers. They all had their heads up watching the ceremony, our lot almost all had heads down playing games on mobile phones, reading books, doing crosswords, marking exams, reading newspapers......

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Time Of Our Lives

Or Not.

For the last three weeks I have been trying to get the little angels to learn how to tell time.

Not an easy job when only about 5% of them have a watch and of that 5% there is only one whose watch is not digital. So this concept of dials and hands and "past" and "to" is usually quite a difficult one for them to pick up. But it seemed to be going reasonable well. But today. Today.. Oh my god, today was just awful.

I was teaching the maximum of 5 lessons today and I came out a zombie. All reason and intelligence had left me. I felt it draining away during the day and there was nothing I could do. I have to finish this unit this week and get a test in, so it was a case of sit down such up and sleep so I could recover or grind my way through it. maybe i should have let them sleep and got some myself.

About which, I caught one of mine sleeping today. Little f***** . He had actually been much improved in this new semester and had been actually seen working - on more than one occasion! But he has now reverted to type this week. I actually let him sleep. i really couldnt be arsed waking him up properly. I just got a bit of paper and dangled it in his ear but that only made him swat away an imaginary mossie and turn over. The other kids thought it was great fun but...

By the way this was in the middle of a practice listening test. A quick 10 minutes at the start of the lesson and then more practice for the test. Quick 10 minutes my arse. 9 examples and it lasted between 30 to 40 minutes in getting them quiet enough to start, for them to get their pencils out, me quickly marking it and completing it. F*** ME!

Now, who invented those self propelling pencils and thought they old be good idea to give them to 8 year olds? Eh? Who was it? Own up! Because if its you, I am going to come round and smack you a few good ones with a basball bat. The amount of time wasted with them in class in unreal. Its funny how they always need to get new lead just at the start of my class. They never seem to do it at the end. I wonder why? Hmm.

And once again, my decision this year to try and get out of P2 have proved correct. Just a shame I wasnt successfull. The end of last week and this week has seen Prathom 4 - 6 and Matayom teach a vastly reduced timetable because of outings trips and whatnot. But, what do we get at the lower levels? Nada, zilch, zero, nothing, nil........... And we were still getting covers, yes, even with teachers not teaching, I still got a cover last week. Unreal.

We got a memo at lunchtime saying that we have a very important meeting first thing tomorrow. Not sure why. In fact it is the talk of the steamie! Is it anything to do with the appearance of the head of the english department in our office today, was it a coincidence? Nobody seems to know. But whatever it is, I doubt it will be good news. And speaking of that, I will need to post tomorrow about the other "good" news we got this week.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Material Boys & Girls

During the weekend, I went to a few different tailors to find out how much it would cost to make up the school uniform. I think my famous last words were I am not that bothered about the cost.

Well, my view changed. I was quoted anything for 1800B up to 4000B for just the making up of one jacket and one pair of trousers. 4000B !!! YIKES! Fortunately, the school is getting someone in to visit the school and measure everyone up. Apparently he does really good work and best of all he is cheap, around 1000B. Which is ok, thats the price of a pair of trousers out of Robinsons.

Unfortunately tomorrow we have one of our out of hours mandatory attendence ceremonies. This one is for confirmation of the new director. no dount it will be the usual opening prayer and blessing and hymn and then speeches saying how wonderful she is and how lucky the school is to have her ya da ya da ya. I wonder how much will be in english? Whoop de whoop. 90 bloody minutes we will have to endure taking us up to almost 5pm, after which there is going to be a buffet thing. It had better be bloody good after sitting through that.

So far this week I have been teaching my little Somchais all about time. Its been one of those weeks where you are sailing along and then hit a brick wall and think once again that the marker in your hand has an iq bigger than the collective iq of the class.

Three parts to the whiteboard. One is a clock with the hands at 3 o'clock then beside that "3:00" and beside that are the words "three o'clock". So the question goes out, whats the time? ( pointing to the clock) 3 o'clock is the reply. Whats the time? ( pointing to "3:00" ) 3 o'clock is the reply. So far so good. So the next question goes out - are these the same time? Are they the same? ( pointing to all 3 ) Silence. The question goes out again, silence. I try asking some individuals, silence, I try the smartest kid in the class. He pulls a stupid face and shakes his head. Yeesh.

So, another tack. I ask them are they the same,yes / no? Put your hands up if you think no. One puts his hand up.
Put your hands up if you think yes. Every hand goes up. Aw for fecks sake. So back to the original question. Are they the same? Silence. DOH!

Why is it every kid is a drama queen when it comes to thunder and lightning? During the storm yesterday every time they saw lightning they all "jumped" out of their seats and of course when the thunder came they all shouted AHHHHH!!! like they were scared. Oh for petes sake, its not like europe where maybe you could see 3 or 4 storms in a year. It more like 4 months worth here. If they are still scared of thinder and lightning at this age, they are living in the wrong country and they will have a miserable lifetime ahead!

And oh yes, I havent had a cover lesson so far this week :)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Confessions of a rambling mind

Got you there! Bet you thought it would be something exciting, but alas and alack, no its not. Just another update at the madhouse.

Back to my favourite subject - cover lessons. Aw gawd, here we go again you must be thinking, he got a stupid cover and he is going to bitch about it, again! Well, no. Not this time. This was the first week in a long long time when I didnt get one. Amazing! We got a memo about covers basicaly saying the common sense things like follow the lesson plan the teacher missing made, use the materials they set up, dont just give them whats easiest for you etc etc.

We have now got a permanent cover teacher. Except, hes not based at the school. It seems to be the usual TIT way of doing things. He is employed by an agency and will only work at our school but he wont be at the school unless he is working. Eh? So, what happens if someone suddenly goes ill? We will still need to do covers until he arrives. Seems a bit pointless to me. If he is "ours", why not keep him at the school? Oh well.

All the teachers who passed the probationary period got a little present. Material to make up the school uniform. Black material for the trews and a lovely shade of bleuuch for the jacket, as well as a badge to be sewn on the jacket breast pocket, brass buttons and tie pin. We have to find a tailor to make it up, that comment drew a few sharp intakes of breath. Why should we have to pay, its the school uniform so they should pay etc etc. To be honest, I am not that fussed about it - unless of course I find out that it will set me back thousands of baht.

In the category of "What??!!" Part 1

One the guys - the LMY was giving it his usual when he got the material and someone paid a little trick by hiding the buttons when LMY was out of the room. He comes back in and immediately starts off Who stole my buttons, what fuckking idiot stole my buttons, its not funny stealing peoples stuff..... then he goes and gets the program director and the assistant director in !!! And starts the rants again swearing left right centre up down and round the bend! Of course by this time the buttons had been put back but under the material so he finds them. Mean time, everyone else is either telling him to calm down or just staring astonished at the view. Then of course, he cant find his badge so the rant continues. Even when he finds the badge he had folded into the material he still rants on and on.

On a scale of 1 to 10 then I have to put this on a 9.5. Its only a 9.5 as there was no physical violence involved.

Now, later on we found out that LMY had his apartment broken into in the October break, so he was a bit sensitive to things being stolen. But...... it was still an over the top reaction to a little joke and as for getting the Director and the AD in?? Come on!!

In the category of "What??!!" Part 2. One of the new teachers decided to work a bit later in his classroom this week - about 5pm - and returned to find everyone had left and the lights had been switched off and doors locked. Now, the problem was that in the staffroom was his phone, wallet, money, keys, bag etc. basically everything. Now, at this point some people might have gone back the ground floor to an office to get a key or to one of the security guards or gone to the main office or gone to look for another teacher. What this guy did was he walked out the school gates and walked the streets all night. He came in the next day and said he had to go home to sleep and change his clothes.

When people were hearing this story the reaction was pretty much the same. WHAT THE F...? Why didnt he ask a guard or anyone for a key? Why did he just walk out? Does he have no friends he could go to? Is his flat that far away that he couldnt walk there? I mean, he did have 10 hours! Why did he leave his money in the staffroom?? That was the biggest point everybody raised. Although we havent had anything going missing so far this year, it is a sad fact that it does happen occasionally.

I think its fair to say that this guy will be the subject of some fairly constant jokes about this for a long long time.

Now, for those who think that Thailand is the only place that the shit happens to EFL teachers, here is a site that corrects the view. Its from a guy back in the UK who suffers just as much as we do though the usual methods - idiotic students, managers and penny pinching. Its quite a good read, so have a look.