Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Melly Cwismass

As is usual in many schools, ( though not all ) things are winding down as teachers near that special time of year when they are expected to perform like seals in front of other teachers and or parents at Xmas concerts or parties.

Some run for the hills, some approach it head on like an inevitable train wreck and some never get asked. So far I am in the third category YIPPPEEEEE.

Its also the time of year we inevitably end up trying to teach something about Santa and Xmas to a bunch of Thai kids who know nothing about the origins of the story and holiday and whose only thought is holidays and presents and ooops there's dad drunk with his Chivas again. Actually sounds a bit like home really.

The school is increasingly decked out with tinsel, Xmas trees and the like with this years slogan ( well, I assume its different every year ) FINDING CHRISTMAS. Why they dont just look in a diary under December 25 or in Google I dont know. But apparently its lost. So if you see Christmas, please return it to Paddington Station, London.

The usual things have been happening, cover lessons given - me getting them, others not getting them. The feedback from the observations has brought on some furrowed brows " how can they say that" " thats stupid" etc etc. and well probably the whole system is stupid, especially the fact that you have to make an appointment to discuss the observation. To my mind that is always the most important to both parties. To see a person do something is interesting but also to see and then find out WHY they did it is vital. Otherwise you are only pressing your bias , your behaviour etc onto another person and putting that into their "teachers record".

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Day of Days

Ooooh, a nice dramatic title but still the same old same old.

Another week another Baht.

Teaching wise the kids have been more or less acceptable with the odd outburst of dissent but nothing too serious but today was just one of those days where it started wrong and just went downhill. The first lesson was one that basically consisted of my waiting for the kids to be quiet and when they couldnt be quiet for them to STAND still.

Of course, this eventually led to them standing the whole lesson. If it wasnt someone discovering that their shoe lace needed tying or that they wanted to dance or move about in some stupid way or play with their metal pencil case and drop it on the floor or something that.. The original intention had been to keep them quiet for a couple of minutes while I took the attendence, that escalated up to 5 minutes then up to them standing in silence then up and up and up to the full lesson. At every stage I told them why, that he was talking, that he was making noises, that he was playing and so on and giving them another deadline to aim for ( and fail to achieve ).

We then get to the end of the lesson and I think, OK, just one more time, telling them that if I say quiet, that means no talking and if I say stand still that means stand still. In the middle of this, one little git - ironically one of the more intelligent ones - decides to pack up all his things and get ready to leave. Aw for fecks sake! Not listening, not taking in anything that has gone on for the first 7 months of the year or the previous 50 minutes. What are you doing? Did I tell you to get your bag ready? Did I? Did I tell you to pack your bag? I think, he will reply with a yes or no, at that point I dont really care,any response and I would have shoved them out the door ( with a quick correction of course ). But what does he decide to do? Just totally ignore me of course, so I repeat the question again in a different way and again and eventually he looks at me. If looks could kill!

At the same time the rest of the kids were putting pressure on him, as I said when he replies you all can go. So the kids round him were telling him to say no ( or indeed yes ) so they could get out and enjoy the rest of the break.

About ten minutes in, I thought I would defuse the issue as he was starting to threaten to punch the other kids. In some ways it was like watching the old Tom and Jerry cartoons as somebodys head turns gradually red and then a steam whistle blows to let off the excess! He started banging the bag against the desk and going uh! bang uh! BANG UH

It was one of these bizarre situations, on one hand I wanted to push it further and see if he would pop and have a stroke or something but on the other hand I was going, dont do anything stupid, he could flip out and hurt me or another kid or himself. In the end, the sensible thoughts won. DAMM! One of these days towards the end of term I am going to have to push it and see what happens.

Then the next lesson is about making a paper folding book but could they cut along the lines of the design? No, of course not. Could they colour trees green and brown? No, they had to be blue or purple or yellow with red stripes. Feck.

Then of course, they ( Der mangement ) decide to choose today of all days to do the surprise observation and oh dear. First of, I realised when I go into the class I had forgotten to bring my books - I thought I had left them in the class but I had taken them back to the staffroom where they now lay, along with my lesson plan and my attendence sheet. Wonderful. NOT! And of course, that knocked me off and them turning up knocked me off so I was really off for the next 10 - 15 minutes. Add to that, the lesson was an activity based on I have no idea what they made of it. I know it wasnt one of my best. As well as that they did not stay for the full lesson. One left with about 10 minutes to go and the other with 5 minutes to go.

As it was with the last observation, the result will be a written report not a chat to discuss what went right and wrong and talk about areas of improvement. It will be interesting to see what they make of it.

Now from the Department of Only in Thailand.

I was walking back to my class in the afternoon to see a scrum of kids on the football pitch. Aw, well, nothing too unusual. Then I notice a pink old fashioned VW Beatle and then some models and a team of people doing a wedding photoshoot! Of course the kids were loving it and were running round in and out of shot. The photographer was going mental but the models did seem to be enjoying it. Whether that good humour was maintained is another matter though :)