Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dont Look Back In Anger part whatever (8)

Just in case those of you who think i am bleating a little hard about my poor victimised life and that its all me me me me me and exaggerating it, I will now copy the Wikipedia entry about it.

By the way, this is actually the polite version of it. Whoever the person in charge ( and despite the claim that the wiki is a peoples encyclopedia, there are people in charge )
is, they keep on watering it down!

In fact, the last set of edits now has the school song, which by the way sounds as bad as every other school song in Thailand!

"Employment

BCC is noted as an excellent institution of learning and one of the top private schools in Bangkok. Unfortunately, its reputation with many foreign teachers is less than golden. In fact, despite its high salaries, it was singled out by TEFLWatch, a TEFL watchdog group, as a school to watch out for. "


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangkok_Christian_College


By the way, if you are thinking the layout looks weird, its fine IN FIREFOX v2.0

Its just you LUDDITES that insist on using Internet Explorer!!!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Coming Soon!

Dont worry, I havent forgotten about you all.

Coming soon, tales of incompetance, internal politics, bitching, threats of arrest and deportation.

ps, it does help if I hit the post button and not "draft". DOH!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Another Piccy


Sorry, for the delay but I am turning into a right lazy bugger and I have other stuff thats taking up a fair bit of time just now.

So in the meantime, here is another picture, this time its from Loy Krathong.




Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dont look back at the pictures continued















Ok, as you can probably tell I have found better things to do with my life than rant about the past. Do not worry, the tale of Assumption it is still to continue!

And even more juicy is the tale of the mob on the other side of Sathorn who have just been in the news.

In the meantime here is a picture of the sports day with the boys in their wonderful manly colours of green and pink!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Dont look back in anger part 6

And here we go again for the next instalment.

After John & Tony as bosses, the next willing victim was a guy called Wayne. I had heard a few stories about him before but sort of dismissed them. Then I read the novella / short story ( I cant be bothered finding out which is actually the correct term but I am sure someone out there will know ) and oh dear. It was either quite funny or deeply troubling. If he wrote it seriously and that was his attempt at deep literature, we were in trouble. If it was a light piece of fluff, it might be ok. Lets put it this way it was the sort of story someone from 6th year would write and shove in all the long and obscure words they knew to make it sound intellectual and deep. The trouble it, most people who read it thought WTF?? I am sure you know what the initials are. It just came over as a lot of pretentious attention seeking. And he was being serious. Oh dear.

Again, I have to say that when you are the farang boss in a school, you cant win. Especially if you are the boss employed by an agency working in a school. You are in an even worse situation. You have the teachers on one side, the agency boss on another and the school on another. Definitely a case of surrounded on all sides.

To a certain extent, how you fill the role is up to you. You can piss off the agency and the school by taking the teachers side, piss off the teachers and school by taking the agencies side and so on. The problem we found quite early on and proved to be the case from then on was that no one was ever on our side. Even if they appeared to be. From a period where a lot of effort seemed to go into doing resources, planning, materials for the teachers, it went one way from here on in. Now the question is, who made that decision? Was there one actually made or did it just start to fall apart from its own entropy?

In many ways the first full year was the happiest for me. I was actually enjoying my job – it was pre blog ! – and overall it was a pretty good bunch of folk. There weren’t too many hassles in the staffroom and most of us socialised together to one level or another. It got to be a little club so to speak. Of course if you were looking from outside it probably was described as a clique. But that’s the point of about groups, there is always the looking in and looking out point of view. Was the group I was in perfect? No, not by a long way but it takes allsorts as they say and more importantly, if you are on your own in a foreign country – especially if you are new – it can be a very lonely depressing experience.

A couple of after school bars quickly became favourites and fell out of favour and back in and so on but probably during this period the one that stood out, sometimes by default later on, but initially by choice was Bobbys Arms. I wish I had taken some photographs of the place but I never quite got round to it. I think it was the age old don’t worry it will be around for ever as will I attitude. So, if anyone has some photos of that golden age, please let me know! Others that became honourable mentions or just mentions were The Exchange, O’Reillys, Bar Dog,

There is a great stereotype and reputation about English teachers that we are all sub human because – in no particular order – we are

Sexpats / whoremongers

alcoholics

socially inadequate – ranging from not being able to get laid in our own country, to being marginally or not so marginally looney tunes

poor

scruffily dressed

etc etc

Now I have to admit that some of the people who I met and worked with did indeed play up to those stereotypes. Of course the question is now, did they come to Thailand because they were those types or did they become those types because they came to Thailand. Of the two camps, I would say that they were either those types before or were destined to become those types.

The poor bit is a bit unfair because the poorest English teacher still earns more ( say 30K all in ) than a lot of Thais but we just prefer to spend differently. And most of the people of who go on about poor English teachers are those on true expat packages at 100K a month plus expenses plus plus Which will bring me onto another rant in a while if I remember.

Anyway, in this group we had quite a range of people, some who had married Thai women and had kids, some who were married and hadn’t had kids, some who were living and were going to get married, some who had no intention to get married and were playing the field, some who wanted to get a nice girl somewhere, some who just wanted to have fun in their gap year, some fully qualified teachers – as in qualified to teach in their own country, some Thailand qualified – as in degree plus TEFL certificate, some with degree and some with errr certificates from that well known university of Khao San – allegedly.

On the whole, the agency appeared to care about standards but on a practical level it came down more to pragmatism and getting bodies in the classrooms that mattered. I don’t really remember too much discussion or division about who had what in the staffroom. There was never any great oh look at him we cant talk to him he hasn’t got a degree or he isn’t a fully qualified teacher like us, we cant talk to him. Of course, if it came out that so and so had a fake, it was talked about or more accurately gossiped about but that was the extent of it if the person was decent. If they were a prat then of course bets were off and a few comments were made or information held for future use as a bargaining tool.

That first year was a bit of a blur in some ways as many people came and went. Someone worked out that we had a turnover rate of about 40% give or take. The problem was the usual story of people being hired and not turning up, turning up and staying a day, a week, a month as they didn’t like the job, didn’t like the school, got a better job, their boyfriend / girlfriend moved home so they had to follow, didn’t want to live in Bangkok, couldn’t get up in the morning, couldn’t be arsed or whatever.

Part of the problem of this little retrospective is that the memories are now fading of some details and the bigger situations and rants have already been written about in the early part of the blog. So if you were one of those fools who have been reading this from the start then sorry, here are some repeats.

In various ways we all have our buttons that others can press and from the mild mannered Bruce Banner we are suddenly shouting “Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I am angry” and from there it is but a little trip down Straws Lane along Camels Backs and the world is suddenly green. On the whole I think I got on pretty well with the vast majority of people I worked with. Yes, some things annoyed me and I have no doubt some things I did annoyed others but mostly they were quickly forgotten about or written about and forgotten about. But, but, but, there are two people that I graded beyond annoying, beyond being a prat into that area of actual dislike.

One is, well, actually they both are American as it happens. Da Daa daa da DAAAAA!

Eric. He is not to be confused with Canadian Eric, who just happens to be even larger – as in both well over six foot and big. This is basically fat yank Eric. If you imagine the worst sort of ambassador for you country abroad and he would be pretty much up there.

Despite having no experience at all, within about a week of arriving he was the expert in everything, he knew how to change things, to make them better. Even when things were explained to him again he didn’t like it. My main beef with him arose when we started doing the exams. The previous year myself, Simon, Blake and John ( in other words all the P1 teachers ) all agreed to test our kids together. Two people would look after the Speaking test, one the listening and the other the Reading and Writing and whoever did the test did the marking. If you did the Listening test, you did the Listening marking and so on. It worked very well in practice as the workload was evenly spread out and was far better than doing it individually. This time I outlined how it would work to the group and suggested we all do the same. Everyone agreed. I said I would do the speaking test with someone else which meant we would do the marking for that. In some ways it was the easiest in that you were doing the marking as you went along and there was nothing to do after the exam. But, it meant you HAD to complete all the tests during the allotted time. You couldn’t suddenly say ok, times up, oh dear we haven’t tested 5 kids so they get zero.

Great, so we start the exams and its going fine then fat boy comes up and says it isn’t fair. What isn’t fair? I say. The marking he says. ? Its not fair. You aren’t sharing all the work. You wont have any marking to do after and I have spoken to the others and they agree.

In other words fuckwit had realised that he had a cushy number during the exams but would have to work afterwards and thought it wasn’t fair. When again the differing amounts of work was pointed out to him again he still didn’t get it. We all had the same amount of marking as each other, we all had the same amount of work as each other, it was just in a different time slot. If those doing the Speaking test started marking the other tests, they would end up doing more work than the others. He still didn’t get it. He said everyone else felt the same and that basically I had bullied them into accepting this arrangement. Now for those that know me, that is a farcical suggestion, I couldn’t bully a paper bag!

When I spoke to the others, it turns out that they weren’t that bothered. It was just fat boy. I stood my ground and that was basically that, we never got on again. He also tried to pull a fast one in the next batch of tests ( that him and Scrappydoo did together ) and mark his kids with a Bell Curve instead of a flat score. Nice one, make his scores look good and better than the rest of his. Not to tell tales, but I soon put a stop to that :)

Oh yes, another reason is that he brought his little university girlfriend in at the end of term time and she actually helped him do some of his work – I think the marking!! Because of this old Wayne boy was persuaded by Eric that it would be ok for the gf to have on her CV that she worked in the school!!! Unbelievable.

And I havent yet started about his teaching techniques which mostly consisted of showing videos almost every lesson. It got so bad that our corridor was showing more movies in a week than SFX! ( a cinema chain in Thailand )


He was the sort of guy who when asked to wait a minute he would be stamping up and down demanding to see the manager for the perceived slight to his americanhood. Although we never got much into political discussions, I would imagine his foreign policy would be basically carry a big gun, do what you want and screw the rest of the world if they want something different – like say, free choice. He was the sort of a guy who would shout loudly in a shop if he wasn’t getting his own way and be proud afterwards that he managed to “talk” them round into giving in. Of course, the local thai populace would be smiling as they were secretly pleased that he did this as he only did what they wanted to do, but were too scared to do it. Yeh right. More like, its too hot to get all bothered, why is that big fat farang shouting and making everyone nervous?

The most amazing thing is, that every time you spoke to him it was very clear that he didn’t like Thailand. He was only there for as long as it took to get his girlfriend back to America where they would marry and live happily every after in a decent country i.e. America. Just about every time someone spoke to him about Thais and Thailand he would always be running them and it down. Every so often we had cultural seminars to cope with during the school downtime but agency up time. On one occasion, we were asked why we came to Thailand etc and he replied to come get my girlfriend to marry me and get the hell out. Well you can imagine the faces of those attending – especially the Thais!

He said he had a background in IT and basically had his own company. But the thing was that when he was going back, he was going back to be a long distance truck driver. I don’t know about you but that seems a bizarre choice and indeed change of careers. Anyhoo, at the end of the contract, they duly departed to the land of the free to set his plan in motion. I believe it was only 4 months or so later than they were back in Bangkok and he was back teaching. I am not really sure how or why, I mean surely its not that difficult to learn to drive one of those big trucks. Is it?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dont look back at the pictures - again!


Well, another picture for you to peruse and discuss since I am still trying to sumon the right amount of energy, sarcasm, disgust, fondness and so on to type up the next section.

This unlikely trio are folk I used to work with, they might recognise themselves, they might not. Hopefully you lot wont!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Dont Look Back At The Pictures


To break the monotony, here is a picture of a couple of my good Prathom 3 kids at Assumption. They still talked too much but at least they listened some of the time, had a few thoughts of their own and used a few brain cells in class.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dont Look Back At Corporates

For the first year and a half I basically needed to make more money.

For teachers this basically means doing privates, more hours in the original job ( only really applies if you are in a language school ), working for a second language school or doing corporate work.

Normally corporate work is done through an agency as it is a real pain to sort out a corporate job for yourself. This does have advantages and disadvantages. The advantages being you dont need to find work, you might be able to choose the general locations you work in and the levels. This is of course dependent on the agency having more than one course running at one time and has lots of work available. The downside being they get a cut and sometimes a large cut of the fee the company takes. Tales tell of 2000Baht an hour being charged and only 450B being paid to the teachers. But some agencies have narrower margins than others.

Doing corporate opens you to all sorts of places that you are expected to teach in. Again tales out of school have people teaching in canteens, storage areas up to purpose built conference areas, boardrooms and everything in between. It also means that unless you are lucky the lessons will be early in the morning or in the evening, there are very few morning or afternoon lessons simply because the employer wants their workers working and not "skiving off" learning english. Unfortunately, this attitude also applies the the morning and evening slots. So basically if the boss has a rush on you might have one person turning up!

Because of the official work permit regulations being so open to interpretation, almost every official says that the address you work must be stated on the work permit. In a sense that makes 99% of all corporate teachers illegal as corporates are almost always the second job! There are a few folk I have heard about that have "various" on the location or are classed as consultants which again lets them to work in multiple locations but they are few and far between.

During my spell I ended up working for only three corporate agencies. Elite, British School of Bangkok and BiTS.

Elite, for all their faults on the school side were fair on the corporate side. I think this had a lot to do with Brendon who is in charge of that side of things. I alsways found him a straightforward guy who called a spade a spade and at least tried to tell you the full story . They never could be accused of being the highest paid for corporate work ( the most I got was 450B an hour ) but at least they paid on time and if something was wrong it was corrected fairly quickly. Another drawback was that they witheld 100B an hour whill you were working and then gave it to you at the end of teh course as a "bonus". A bit of a cheeky description I have to say. They did have lots of work available during the time I was there and basically could have continued up to the end working for them if I had wanted to. But, I didnt, so I didnt.

British School of Bangkok
This shower was one of the worst organised places I have ever worked for and indeed looking the likes of ajarn.com read about. The rate of pay was reasonable - 500B an hour and the location was to be a mere 15 minutes away. Sorted. I should have realised however that it might not have been so good at the interview. Their office was basically about 30msq and piles of paperwork and stuff everywhere. The directions to the office were not that good either and took a few more phone calls to sort out. Then came the lessons. Despite promises no books appeared for the first 5 weeks for the students and no teachers book for me. You can teach out of the student book but its not ideal at all. The teachers book gives you ideas, structures and so on.... Basically it lets you plan the lesson properly. No timetable of lessons was given out which basically meant I turned up on days the company didnt want lessons!

The first pay check cleared ok, the second was a few days late and then the problems began. Oh the accountant is sorting out the check now, the accountant isnt here, the two partners suddenly became difficult to contact. Not answering their phones, not being in their office. Of course once you start working you always get paid in arrears. You have the option of quitting and hoping they will pay you the money owed or carrying on to work and hope that because you are still working they will pay you before those who have quit.

It ended up I was paid all the money I was owed but up to two months late. And it wasnt just me, it seemed to be almost everyone except the partners who got paid late. Obviously they made sure they paid themselves first. It seems to have been that they were not very good at business. As soon as a new course came in, they paid money owed to old teachers. They didnt put any money back into the business as reserves. Hardly surprising when they didnt have the company set up properly, they were still on the wrong visas themselves and had to go on visa runs!

It wasnt just me, they had been doing it to almost everyone and for a long time. I think it closed down about 18 months ago but it seems that all they did was change the name and carried on.

The last one was BiTS
This was a bit weird as it was my first corporate job and not long after I started at Wat Plabachai. In other words I was a green teacher! I had to give a demo lesson to the head man and he seemed quite impressed with it. So off I went to the class in the office and I thought got on ok with the class. I was actually enjoying it as I had a book to work from which was a great change from Plabachai where I was flying by the seat of my pants. I could actually plan! However, I was warned that I was going in halfway through the set of lessons and that the previous teacher was very popular. OK, no problem I thought.

Part of was BiTS does ( or at least did ) is about 3 weeks into the course, they send someone to do a survey to see how the class is getting on. The day after the survey I was called in and fired. Well, ok, removed. The official story was that the class wanted the old teacher back and I would be given another class. But I never was. I never found out if that was the real story or that I was actually rubbish. At least I got one of their black document folders to keep as a souvenir. :)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dont Look Back In Anger Part 5

And here we go for the next instalment.

At the time I was working everyday apart from Sundays and I was starting to wear myself out which was one of the reasons I had left my job in the UK.

So basically I was on the lookout for a new job. The agency I had been doing corporate work for - Elite - had actually offered me a job not long after starting with them, about the middle of June I think. But they offered me about 25k, although that would have increased my income, it meant working more hours. Nah.

About 6 weeks later, I was chatting with the head man and the subject came up again and this time the offer was 28k. More interesting but still not enough to tempt me. Another 6 weeks or so and the offer was upped to 32k. Well, ok I though, that’s a bit better I might as well give it a go and see what happens.

So, off I trot to have the interview with the DOS – Raymond Kerr - at Assumption and he comes across as very competent, very clued up and a fellow countryman. Sorted. The only problem was, this was now October and I wouldn’t start working there until the end of the holidays.

My first day brought a shock as I discovered the DOS had moved on. The story is that it was one of these “mutual decisions” or at least it was mutual from the sense of both parties realised that they couldnt work with each other. The DOS was too outspoken, too knowledgable, too ready to fight the corner of his staff against the agency. In other words the sort of guy you want on the teachers side, your side against the agency.

The set up was a little bit odd in the sense that the agency had a contract to provide all staff to the school. So we were all teachers in a school but employed by the agency. We had in effect two bosses, the agency and the school, this as you can imagine led to some strange situations where communications broke down, were interrupted and in some cases invented!

It has to be said that I learnt a lot from my first six months there. The TEFL course gave me an idea, Wat Plabachai school taught me a lot about self preservation, if not teaching, but Assumption taught me a lot about teaching. Or at least the teachers in my year group did. In a way I was quite fortunate in that I had a “real” teacher in the group PGCE – UK teacher - qualified and all that. That group Simon, Blake, me and John ( or was that the group in my first full year? I cant quite remember ), anyway we all got on pretty well, we co-operated on lesson plans, ideas and it was really good for a new teacher. Something else that was pretty good was that we were all teaching in rooms beside each other, so that if we set tasks for our class and they were quiet we could pop into someone elses’ room for a few minutes or more drastically call for reinforcements.

One of the consequences of the boss leaving was that they had to promote someone to replace him. The choices were to be honest not that successful. One was a decent teacher but the man management skills were definitely lacking, a point which he readily acknowledged himself. The other appointee was a very nice chap who was the other extreme, who took ages to make a decision and didn’t want to upset anyone. Step forward John and Tony. Admittedly they did have the awkward position of being between the good, the bad, the ugly and the downright stupid. You can decide yourself who are the teachers, the school, the management and the agency. Having seen what goes on in all schools over the last four years, it would take a lot more than 60k a month to make me take that sort of job. Moaning from one side, moaning from the other sid, moaning from both sides and all the bitching and none of the credit.

Out of school John was a fairly decent person ( if he brought money for his drinks ) and Tony was a quiet soul who largely kept himself to himself and his wife who then came in as a curriculum development consultant or a similar title.

The other teachers were the usual mix of folk in either Thailand or the school for a year, people with too much alcohol in their blood stream or too much blood in their alcohol stream, people who had been there for years, people there for a week, a day or be the invisible man and not turn up at all.

Just to show my naievity at that point, at the end of the year I had to go home. I needed a new visa and my original ticket was going to expire, so I asked if I could use the sick days that I hadn’t used instead of taking unpaid leave. And the answer was no I couldn’t. Instead of being like everyone else and taking a sickie I was the berk who tried to be honest. I learned that lesson.

The new school year started and a new boss appeared. At first we thought OK it should be an improvement. Ah, the dreams of the forlorn! No it wasn’t. In the end it proved to be the start of the decline of the Roman Empire. Well, ok that’s a bit of an exaggeration but it was the beginning of the end of the beginning etc etc

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dont Look Back in Anger - The Pictures
















While I am still typing up the next installment, here is another photo of the next school. Or is that an assumption?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Dont Look Back In Anger Part 4


Whoops a little longer time has passed than originally intended but what the hell, I just couldnt be arsed to type it all up.

But I am now back scribbling away, so in the meantime, here is a picture of some of my kids from the first school. These were my P1s. Cute aint they in their Scout uniforms?

As it is unlikely this blog will continue on for much longer, I am offering the chance for you dear reader to participate in this activity, this glorious nonsense, this murderation of the english language etc etc. You can send me little tidbits of information, especially if its about the purple soul eaters, little articles and let me link them up a la Stickman or indeed you could have your own byeline. The offer is open to anyone doing a TEFL course, teaching or just bored.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Dont Look Back In Anger Part 3

Like a lot of people who turn up on these shores each year green, na├»ve and lets face it, stupid, I had a few encounters before I got street wise – well ok, street wiser.

Among the jobs I went to interview for were jobs down on Sukhimwit 101. Which from where I was staying would men a minimum of 60 minutes travel – that was in ideal conditions – up to maybe 3 hours if it happened during a downpour. Part of the problem at that time was that I didn’t have a good idea geographically where everything was in Bangkok and around the country.

Another job I went to interview for was a Sarasas school up near the new airport. Basically turn left at Sukhimwit 71 and keep going for 15 miles. That was a day trip and a half to say the least. In the end it was about the fifth taxi I flagged down who took me as all the other drivers turned me down. The fare was just short of 200 baht, which takes some doing and that tells you just how far out of town it was. The guy who did the interview laughingly described it as 15 minutes from Bangkok on the phone and I believed him! I suppose that if you got the road empty and a fast car it would be 15 minutes, otherwise you could be looking at a minimum of 40 minutes up to maybe two hours. The area itself could either be described as quiet and local or boring and dull. Add into the mix that the accommodation that they were offering was a building that was owned by the school and that you were bussed to and from the school in a minibus each day with all the other teachers. So if you lost the job you lost the apartment, he reluctantly said they would give a housing allowance if I didn’t stay there but he said the staff building was great and really friendly etc etc. Even as a newbie, it was a situation that I didn’t really want to be in. Just as well I suppose they didn’t offer me the job.

On another interview - down towards hua Hin - I got on the train assuming the school name was the name of the town and station – they had said the school was 5 minutes walk from the towns station, but they would meet me there and pick me up. I arrived at the train station and waited and waited until one of the station staff said there was a phone call for me. Turns out I had gone one station too far and that I had overshot by 15 miles. Now back in the west that would not be too much of a problem, just get the next train back up the line, oops only three trains a day on this line so I had to be rescued by a teacher who was sent to get me. In the end I didn’t get the job, I don’t know why as it wasn’t a Geography teacher they wanted!

Those two instances did make me realise that to turn up relatively on time I had to start looking at maps to check where the school was when arranging the interview and if possible do a dry run and find out exactly how long it takes to get there.

During the first few weeks of interviews I was actually staying in a hotel as I didn’t want to commit myself to a flat in one area then find a job that took me two hours to get to and from every day, I had enough of that back home.

Other jobs within 2 minutes of the phone interview starting I got bad feelings about, no details being given, vague assurances and so on and so on, others it was a case of sitting through an interview thinking “What am I doing here? I don’t want to be here.” And yet at some point I had to commit, take the plunge and get a job as I was burning through my savings. Granted if I had wanted to, I could have taken three months to live off savings but that was something I didn’t want to do in case I had to buy something big or go into hospital, give up Thailand and move to Korea or…………….

In the end I got the job through someone who was completing the Diploma stage of the TESOL. One lesson each week for 45 minutes. The rate of pay was 400 Baht an hour which I thought was pretty good, teaching 16 hours a week and I didn’t have to be there unless I was teaching. Pretty good package overall I thought.

In the end it was not. As there were only two other farang teachers at the school and we had different timetables I rarely saw them. Between us we covered from Kindy up to Prathom 6. We saw the kids once a week for 1 lesson, which as I was soon to discover was basically a waste of time. We taught the entire Thai class which means I had between 38 and 52 kids in the class. In theory I also had a Thai assistant but if they were there all they did was sit at the back of the class and do their own work. In other words I was on my own.

I very quickly realised that what I was doing wasn’t teaching but crowd control – sometimes riot control. I had a zone of silence about 4 feet round me and outside of that it would be noise at best chaos at worst. One class in particular was just totally mental. I would throw a kid out of class and lock the door to keep him out, as soon as my back was turned one of his friends would sneak up and unlock the door and either let him in or go out himself. The girls weren’t that much better if they were naughty but generally they were nicer to teach as they did at least pretend to pay a bit more attention.

There were only a couple of Thai teachers there who could speak English and the head of the department could hardly speak it all which meant some interesting conversations – or not.

One Monday I walked in and she said today you teach lab. Lab, I thought, what is lab? She lead me up the stairs to a language lab and unlocked the doors and walked off. How the fuck do I use this? I didn’t even know the school had one never mind that I was going to use one. It was truly a case of the blind leading the blind as I didn’t know how to use one, the kids didn’t really know how to use one but we muddled along somehow. I have no idea how much money was spent getting this lab with all the desks, speakers, headsets etc etc kitted out, but it would have been better spent in reducing the class size and getting more native speakers in to teach.

Another problem I had was trying to get legal. I started on a 60 day tourist visa but I wanted to do things properly. However, it was virtually impossible to get straight answers from the school about whether they would pay for my visa and they would provide all the letters needed. In the end I took the plunge and virtually bullied them into giving me all the letters.

The other main problem was trying to persuade them to give me time off to get the visa. No way, so it was all at my own expense, sheesh. Like many others I made my way up to Vientienne in Laos to get my Non Imm B. In theory it’s a simple process, arrive, give the documents to the consulate in the morning and get the visa the next afternoon.

I arrived with few problems to find that my school wasn’t listed in the consulates folder. ??? If it wasn’t in the folder I needed to get more documents from the school. If I got more documents I would get the B, otherwise they would give me another tourist visa. At the time I hadn’t yet got a mobile phone which meant I had to use the ( comparatively ) expensive international phone services there. The only person who I knew the number of was the Greek girl who got me the job. I tried to phone her a couple of times and ask her to speak to the head of department and explain the situation. I figured that as it was difficult to speak to the head face to face and understand the replies it would be impossible to do it over the phone. Given that this was now Thursday afternoon I was getting more and more frantic, a few hours delay would mean I would have to either stay a whole weekend in Laos or return with just a tourist visa. She promised she would speak to the head and sort it out.

This was one of my first lessons in don’t rely on anyone but yourself. After a second phone call to my colleague she turned round and said she couldn’t speak to the head as she was too busy and didn’t want to be involved. Why the fuck didn’t she say that an hour ago when I explained the situation? Bitch. So I tried without success to phone the head myself and I spent the night worried and stressed out.

The next morning I was ready to throw myself on the mercy of the consulate to get my B visa only to discover they had given it to me anyway! After all the song and dance they gave yesterday about needing this and that they gave me the visa. Aw for fecks sake, knowing that would have saved me a lot of grief and worry.

So I duly got back to Bangkok an tried to get the work permit and teachers licence to discover….. the school wasn’t registered with the Ministry of Education so I wouldn’t be able to get either. How a school attached to a Wat could not be registered is one of these mysteries that only Thailand can generate. So basically I needed to do visa runs or move schools. In the end I did both.

A large problem I quickly discovered was that although the hourly rate was good, any holidays or activities meant my teaching hours were cut and of course my pay as well. The first month wasn’t bad but the 2nd month with the trip to Laos and holidays meant I got less than 20k for the month. Yikes. The consequence of that was that I started doing corporate work in the evenings and language school classes on Saturdays. I ended up working Mon - Fri evenings, Mon – Thursdays and Saturday morning to get enough money to have a basic lifestyle. Things had to change, so they did.


Onto the next job.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Dont Look Back In Anger Part 2

Well, it seems that there have been various rumours being circulated around the school about me. Its great to have secret sources :) A top white house aide said today.... :)

The way in which I left probably gave a good launch point certainly. But, unfortunately again I am not going to comment, just yet, to give the school another chance to write back to me and reply to the fax and letters that have been sent about the money they owe me.

So to quote Laurie Anderson

"just pay me what you owe me"

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Dont Look Back In Anger Part 1

I suppose as the time draws near for returning home a little retrospective is called for.

Why did I choose to come here and teach? Well, basically I wanted to work abroad somewhere before I got too tied down, too old, too scared, too trapped. For a lot of people the thought of moving job is scary. It is ranked as one of the most stressful things a person can do in their life. Add in moving – which is also one of the most stressful add in moving halfway round the world and you can see why a lot of people wont do it.

Why did I start writing the blog? Basically I just needed an outlet to get rid of some frustrations. It wasn’t intended to be for a mass audience, it wasn’t intended to please others, it was just a way for me to keep calm. I already was writing on my web site about work but wanted another site where I could say what I wanted and use sweary words without folks at home getting too upset.

Does this tale have a happy ending or did I just steal the Oasis song for the hell of it? You will need to wait and see, as will I, because it may or may not depending on certain people. Cryptic? You bet. Maybe I will tell all, maybe I wont.

Four and a bit years ago, I was looking to see which course I wanted to do I looked around and basically came down to two choices. One was the CELTA which meant Bangkok and the TEFL International TESOL down in Ban Phe opposite Ko Samet. At the time my thinking was that if I was going to do this thing, give up my good job at home and move away from my friends and family, I was going to do it properly. I was going to do the course in Thailand and see what it was like – the country, the work and living there.

I had been to Thailand before on holiday and had an idea of what it would be like, but of course, living somewhere and being on holiday are two different things. So, I did all the research, looked at all the internet pages – just how on earth people research this sort of stuff before the internet? – and got scared. This was the time of the TEFL flame wars on ajarn.com, Daves eslcafe.com and a few other sites. The wars were brutal, I mean no holds barred downright brutal between the two main protagonists, Bruce from TEFL International on one side and Leigh and James from Text n Talk on the other. I ended up asking Bruce to cut out some of this and for both sides to calm down and have intelligent discussion and was basically told to piss off to another web site that was more civilised!

Surprisingly after that, I still went ahead and booked a place in Bruces course. I figured as much as the CELTA name was well known it was based in Bangkok and had and still has a reputation of being a serious, driven course with not much fun. You learn a lot but it’s a slog. The TEFL Int course seemed to be a course that although hard and needed serious attention was still fun to do. Add in the thought that if I stayed in Bangkok the possibilities of distractions at night- ok, yes that sort but I was also thinking of cinemas, pubs, shopping etc etc could deflect my attention from the course. I figured that in a small place like Ban Phe I would be there and concentrate only on the course. Oh how innocent I was. It turns out that there could be just as many distractions in that small town as Bangkok. Oh well.

The course itself was really good and I learnt a lot. The course obviously covered all the main areas like class management, teaching techniques, phonology, grammar etc etc The size of the course was twelve people including me which I think is about the right size. Its big enough to get a decent group dynamic, get lively discussions, allow everyone a chance to take art in activities, a mix of partners ( which if you don’t like someone is very important! ) yet small enough to feel you are a group without splintering into cliques. A big group could mean you never get to really talk to a lot of people, some activities take far longer allowing boredom to creep in and of course there is less attention from the trainer. So twelve was about right.

Of the original twelve, I think I am the last one to actually work as an English teacher. There is still one person working in Bangkok, but they are in a non teaching job. Four went home after a year, one went to New Zealand to do EFL ( yes really ), one went back to Japan and the others I lost touch with directly but every now and again bumped into people that knew what was happening and said they had gone home or moved to another country to work.

The job hunting support wasn’t as big as they advertised – it mostly consisted of a folder in the common area with cut outs of the Bangkok Post and a few faxes from schools looking for people - but it was still enough for me and a couple of others to organise a job while we were still there.

So onto my first job….

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

And thats it. The final week has gone and finished.

In the end all I did was play games and a little bit of a prize giving to the good kids. But to the bad ones all that happened was the Activity Book!

I had decided in my heart, maybe as long ago as November last year, that I would be going home after this year and wouldnt stay for another year.

In some ways, I will be sad to leave Thailand and in others I will be glad. I wouldnt say there is one particular thing that made up my mind but just a gradual increment of various issues. The lack of respect from students, from Thai teachers, from administration, the no fail policy, the everyday hassles of living, family issues at home, personal timing ( sounds a bit strange I know, but a lot of what I decide to do is when something feels right - buying a flat of my own, moving jobs, changing habits, whatever. It just felt the right time to move back.

As much as I moaned about the various kids, I will miss Beer, Oil, Boss, Benz, Jame, James, Big, Ken, Jack, Golf, Pong, Bill, Fond, Ice, Big, Ford, Babe and all the others.

Whether I made as much of an impression on them as they did on me, I have no idea. Hopefully, I have made a difference. Hopefully, I have made them think I was a fair teacher and applied all the rules equally. Hopefully, I have made some kids reach their potential. Hopefully, I have made the kids stretch themselves and start to actually think instead of being spoonfed. Hopefully, they learnt something.

And that is all you can hope for out here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Counting Down The Moments

Jjust like a tropical sunset, the sun is dipping to the horizon and the sands of time slip by faster and faster to the end of term.

The exams have now passed and we are moving into the spare week where we are supposed to be doing "farewell activities" and other exciting things to keep the kids occupied.

Although I have got lessons planned, the reality will probably be that I will mostly play games with them or whatever they and Ii am in the mood for. If they are good they will get team games - english language based and if they are bad, the dreaded Activity Books and worksheets - the original lesson plan.

The exam week was reasonably uneventfull was remarkably little cheating going on. They seemed to have learnt their lesson and became a bit more sophisticated. There was no getting up out of their seats, no trying to open their books in their bags and so on. Of course there was some looking at others answers and quietly asking each other questions but even that was seemingly restrained.

Had I finally got though to them? Where they finally beginning to realise that they could use their brains to think and do it for themselves? Heaven knows. If I could leave them with just one impression, one thing they have learned in their year with me I would choose that.

Now that I have got the marking started, a few patterns are emerging. The smarter ones have noticed that some of the questions were answered by some displays and posters around the room and the err others didnt. Even though the marking scheme is quite relaxed I have quite pleased with the general results and of a couple of kids in particular that have in the last few weeks started taking the smart pills insted of the stupid ones.

Quite why they only started doing it in the last few weeks I am not sure. Maybe they learn a little like I do, sit, observe, think then understand. No matter, from being in the 30% range these two kids suddenly reached up into the 60%s. Good on ya kiddos!

The last week or so has seen a flurry of memos about how to have our end of year partys, how to enter the scores in the worksheets and this that and the other. But basically we now know the timetable for remaining few weeks of term time Unfortunately it seems that its there is a bit of work involved, by that I mean a few of the deadlines are quite tight. By the end of this week we have to mark all the exams and enter them into the spreadsheets and then by the end of next week type out all the reports and then a few days later proof read and correct and then sign. Ah, not that bad I hear you cry but at the same time, we are supposed to be invigilating the Thai exams and then help doing summer camps. So, its going to be a bit tight and more rushed than the end of the first semester for example.

It seems on this occasion I have come out a bit ahead of the game - at least me and my learning group. This week we only have a couple of tests to do fr those kids who were off sick or whatever. But another group have got two full weeks of the normal tests and the exams. It seems that someone somewhere miscalculated or was told the wrong information. Whatever, the end result is the two solid weeks of testing and more importantly - from the teachers point of view - marking and then entering the marks into the spreadsheet.

One of the more interesting memos was about the payments, as usual everything will get back to us at the end of the contract. The final salary, the remaining bonus ( half of which we got In december ), our flight/travel bonus and our runner deposit. All in all a tidy sum assuming we get it all. As well as this, any deductions will be taken off. By this they seem to be indicating the days taken off sick over our allocation, the times we were late, went homm early and so on. The cynical are pointing out that of course by paying it at the end by which time many people would be away or travelling etc any mistakes in the schools favour wouldnt be corrected!

This was one memo that wasnt put on everyones desk surprisingly. After all thats why we work - for the money. Some might love to do the job but if we aint got no money we dont eat! Another reason why it was suprising that it wasnt given out to everyone was that it was talking about the contracts for next year and when they would be issued! A few people have apparently been talked to about coming back but a lot havent.

What is strange is that they seem to be giving everyone a letter about "the invitation" to come back next year. Seems a bit strange. Why give an invitation to someone who is not going to come back? I would have thought that a little chat first of all would have done the trick better. Some already know 100% that they are not. Why bother sending them a letter? ( Of course, this assumes that all the letters include an invitation to return and not one to go forth and never darken our door again! ) Ah well. Whatever. Just another case of TIT and resource management in thailand.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Whats that light...........


at the end of the tunnel?

Knowing my luck its the light of an oncoming train wreck. This week is a review week for the kids to ahem review and revise for the exams next week. Of course in most cases its just the opportunity for me to remind myself of the differing levels in the classes from the finished in 5 minutes and 100% right good kids right down to the end of the lesson and they have managed to write their name at the top of the practice test.

I have absolutely no doubt about who will get the good scores and who wont. I reckon after 2 weeks at the start of term I had got 95% of the classes pegged. There are some who drift in and out, up and down but you tend to know who are the smart kids and who are the waste of fried pork very soon.

One of the constant battles you have is trying to keep the kids just below the middle level doing the work you give them - hopefully on their own - without you standing over their shoulder the whole time. Some teachers like to stand the whole class, some like to sit, some floorwalk the whole time, some dont let the kids out of the chairs and go to the kids to correct, some have them lined up at the teachers' desk. There is no right way as no matter what works one day for one class their is no guarantee it will work for the next class in the next lesson.

Today I was doing a bit of a mix, hand out the practice test, wander at the start to see they were doing it right and then sit when they start to finish and mark / correct and give them new work. Of course, the disdvantage is that the kids sitting think my mind is distracted and start to muck around or the ones on the queue start to push and shove each other and so on. Anyway, in this class is the kid who is beyond redemption as far as learning goes. He just doesnt want to be there and do anything that the rest of the class do, he has been disruptive, unresponsive etc etc. ( this is the kid, I was warned about for being like this at the start of the year so wasnt too worried or surprised ) I looked over at one point and he was asleep, good. I dont mind that in the least because that way he doesnt distract anyone else.

Unfortunately I noticed another kid hadnt yet been up and his head was in a bit of a strange angle. I got up - leaving the queue of kids going "TEACHER FINISHED ,TEACHER FINISHED" sixteen times in my ear and all waving their bit of paper in front of my face in case I hadnt heard them - and walked over. Aha, thats why he was so quiet as well. He was asleep. Sound asleep. I dont see why if I cant sleep, he should be allowed to get away with it. I gave him a little prod in the ribs and nothing. Another prod and he slowly stirs, he rubs his eyes and looks at me and then puts his head back down on the desk to sleep some more! WTF??? One of the other kids actually came over and shook him until he woke up and paying attention again.

If I had done that at my school, I am not sure if my feet would have touched the ground on the way to the headmasters office and from school all the way home. Oh what it is to be a respected teacher in Bangkok. I reckon last year at this time I would have slapped the kid a good one round the back of the head and bawled him out. Today, I just couldnt be arsed. One week of exams and one week of doing something to keep them occupied until we dont see them again. Anyway, what would happen if I did something? At this time of year, nothing in all probability, so why bother.

By the way the little sods are doing not bad, only a couple more dead. So as so many people asked, I have put a picture of them on for you :)


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Grassy Knoll

Well, its that time of semester were we are obviously nearing some bigwigs visit or a football tournament.

Why do I know that? Well, they are relaying the turf on the pitch. Again. At the start of the year, it was in pretty good nick but of course with all the games and functions on it, it started to go bare down the middle. Would they returf or reseed the whole pitch?
But of course not.

The solution was to returf the middle bit. So, afterwards you had this green strip of grass down the middle of the pitch and then the semi bare wing areas. The trouble was the sods they were laying looked as though they had been stolen from a public park a lot of the sods were dead before they had been laid, the actual sods were maybe about 3 feet by 2 feet big, the depth of the sod was barely an inch. This meant holes started to appear when they were being transfered. As well as that you had the usual high tech approach of the workers, instead of putting the sods as closely togther as possible like a jigsaw puzzle they left quite big gaps. The end result was that after only a month or so - which in itself is far too short a time for the grass to lay proper roots - they were playing on it and pulling the grass out. Not only that they had only lightweight rollers which gave the nominally flat surface the same gradients as Nepal.

Within 3 months the effect was that the newly turfed pitch was bare and the original side area still had grass! DOH!!

So they are now returfing it again. Watching the process, you can see why the grass cant hold, the underlying soil is not soil, it looks like either hard compacted earth or an earthy clay combination. I would imagine that to get the pitch right, you would need to import proper soil to get decent drainage and then look after it properly etc etc. Which means obviously it will never happen.

As you can guess, not a lot else is happening just the same old same old.

We are starting to get the papers ready for the final end of year exams that we wont let the kids fail and doing finishing off the weekly tests. One of the kids got my special attention today as I discovered what he did with his test paper. After the class he scrunched it up and left it in the desk. Wow, big deal you think.

Left at that I wouldnt even have blinked but combined with the fact that he had scored out my corrections, marks, and awarded himself full marks just pushed the wrong button. Its bad enough that we have to let them pass - which we think the kids know - but when they display such a total lack of respect in rolling up a test into a paper ball, changing a teachers comments and test score then it just goes beyond the pale, actually beyond the trough and small lake as well.

Friday, January 27, 2006

As time goes by.......

Another week goes by and another week nearer the end of term.

Just 4 weeks to go before we dont see our little ahem angels again until next year or forever. One week of teaching, one week of revision, one week of exams and then one week that is described in the book as "Carnival". Whoop de friggin whoop, what does that mean to kids here? NOTHING! The end result will probably be a combination of giving the kids colouring in, worksheets and videos.

True to form, the mattayom lot stop 2 weeks before we do and they teach less through the year because of camps, trips, cheerleading rehearsal.................... jammy ******.

And then its marking, report writing and down time for some and summer camps for others. After that on March 20, we say goodbye for the last time.

The atmosphere in the office is beginning to reflect that as well with people making plans to go on holiday, go home, get new jobs in Thailand or Korea or Japan, starting to push limits on what they are doing in the office and so on.

This week has been pretty average with a mix of good classes and bad classes. As usual my first and last class of the week ( the same mob ) were among the worst with the Spider Monkey being hit repeatedly by my mental baseball bat. How that kid has survived so far I dont know, he is so fecking annoying.

One of the strangest kids I have is, at times a smart kid, at times totally unresponsive moody little shite and at others totally psycho. He managed to pull a real moody today because I caught him throwing a worksheet he found onto the floor. I asked him to pick it up and put it back in the desk or in the bin, not unreasonable I would have thought but no, totally unreasonable for him. It took about about four tries to get him to pick it up and then he slammed it down on the desk and put the hood of his jacket over his head and crossed his arms. Ooohh boy, now was that the wrong thing to do with me! Three times I took the hood off and he put it on again, a fourth time I took it off I had to physically stop him putting it back up. You should have seen this guys face, talk about a face like thunder! Anyway, finally he seemed to admit defeat and because we were doing a test, I passed the papers out and everyone completedly them ( apart from a couple of wasters who shouldnt be in the program ) except sulky boy. No amount of prodding or reminding or encouragement or whatever you like to call it worked. He just sat there sulking and didnt get past writing his name - even that took 15 minutes.

Ah well, sod him. I tried but i cant force him to do it and after all he is still going to get a pass mark no matter if he did that through the entire year.

Gosh thats a good use of a teachers time, get a kid in your class who will do nothing all year - apart from play games, disrupt the class, annoy others who are trying to learn ............... and then pass him anyway. Why cant they just put all these kids into one class and give them colouring in or videos to watch and do away with all the pretence that we are actually teaching them something?

From the realms of Hmmm thats a bit strange. For a long time we had been complaining that no one was coming into our rooms to clean them and finally after months, we got cleaners in at least once a week to sweep the place. Not as good as a proper clean but at least a start. Now the thing is that I have normally had a bottle of water in the class - for the usual reasons - and then kept on refilling it as needs be from the various water fountains in the school. And then a few weeks ago, my bottles started disappearing. Ok, I thought, I had left them out on my desk at the end of the week and the cleaner thought they were for the bin. Then I put it on my shelf and same thing - gone. Then I put it in a box and left it on my desk, gone. Then
I put them in a box and put some paper over them and it still disappeared. What has she got? A magic bottle detector!!?? This is costing my 6 baht a week buying a new one!!!!!! I wonder if she will find it if I take it back to the staffroom :)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Yup

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Whatever

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Another week crawls by

And so another week starts. Its been the usual start after a holiday, the kids were all hyper and chatty and not wanting to listen. So it was the usual quiet! Quiet! QUIet! routine until they settled down somewhat. We've started doing a unit about the home and things in the home. I had quietly steeled myself for all the laughs and comments about the toilet but surprisingly only a couple. Maybe they were growing up? Of course not. For some reason they focused on the kitchen - especially one class in particular. The kitchen became chicken which became chicken room which became chicken little room. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

What does chicken little have to do with houses and rooms!!!!!!!!????? Add in the random shouts - you know the ones, the ones where the kids just shouts out an english word at random. Sometimes its because they dont know the right word and think if they shout out something its better than nothing, sometimes of course they do it deliberately just to see the reaction of others as a joke and maybe even to wind up the teacher. Of course sometimes you just cant help yourself and bite the bait. Even when you know its bait, you bite. So some of the lessons were frustrating to say the least and others went smoothly.

I just wish if they werent interested they would shut up and let the ones who are interested get on with it. It must be so frustrating for the kids who want to learn - as well as for me of course. If only we could put all the trouble makers into one class. Then again, there is no way in hell I would like to teach that class!

Continuing on from the Childrens Day activities, all the kids got special t shirts to commemorate the day. Unfortunately they dished some of them out before lunch. Pristine in colour quickly turned to grubby and in need of a good wash with various ketchup, ice cream, saliva, dirt stains...! You would think that with the amount of practice these kids have eating, that they would have perfected the art of putting the food actually into the mouth rather than the shirt or hair or whatever! But obviusly not.

To quickly reply to some of the comments.

Yes, it sometimes feels like a factory swiping in and out but all the staff do it and we had to sign in and out in my old school so no real biggie. At least for me, I know some get really upset about it but different strokes and all that. Yeh, it would be nice to go home after the last class or when you have a big break to bog off somewhere for a few hours. On the other hand it does mean I get up to date with all the necessary paperwork and lesson planning. And as for grassing folk up to the bosses, nahhh, its just not worth it.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Onward ever onward

One of the things that we were told at the start of the year were virtual sacking offences was swiping in a time card for someone else. ( this of course is done so people ‘appear” to be working when they are tucked up in bed sleeping or whatever)

But of course, its happening. This week I saw someone swipe in 3 ( in addition to their own ) cards, now that’s what I call totally taking the piss. Ive seen someone swipe 2 before but 4???? Ive even seen Head of Years do it. One rule for them and one rule for us.

Sometimes you really have to wonder about the level of respect these kids offer the outside world. Of course, its different if their parents are there but on their own they are little shits. Outside of most classrooms there are displays of student work, to mark special occasions like Xmas, the King & Queens birthdays etc. But you can guarantee that within hours of someone putting it up, parts of it will be hanging down, ripped off or pulled off by these little freaks. It wont matter how it was attached, thumbtacks, staples, glue….. whatever

They just dont think, as they walk buy they run their hands, their rulers and even sometimes their bags over the displays and every time they are amazed that it falls apart. That is if they even notice that they have damaged it. Of course, normally they are so bound up in their own little bubble of existence that they have no clue. Its even got to the stage that some teachers effectively laminate anything that goes on a display board by covering it with sellotape.

It now seems that a few more folk are taking the casual dress approach as the lesser spotted training shoe is becoming less and less rare as well as the total ignoring of the required uniform of black trousers and white shirts on Mondays. It will be interesting to see just how far it goes in the next few weeks as the bosses are still clamping down on some stuff as much as they were at the start of the year.

You would think the point of having a cover teacher is that he will be able to cover the Teachers who are absent. But the guy we have seems to be absent more times that he is here. He was off again this week which meant, yup you guessed it, another cover for me and yet another week where another person received none.

Well, next week is a short week as Monday is a holiday. Someone mentioned that we have only something like 5 more weeks to suffer err........... I mean enjoy the kids company before its over and the decision making over whether we are retained for next year or not. I wonder when that will happen. I know a few folk are definately not coming back, a few are humming and hawing, a few want to and a few are saying they will only teach higher levels and if they don’t get them, they will walk.

Friday, January 06, 2006

New Year New Minds? - Censored

Naaaa

Course not. They are still as thick as ever. And thats just the teachers :)

The kids? Well, lets be honest, if 6 months of teaching didnt get them to realise the difference between what is the day today and what is the weather today then there is no hope a few days off over Xmas.


It seems that we are finally getting our uniforms to wear for the remaining 6 or so weeks of teaching, which could mean that we get to wear the full rig out twice. By the full rig out I mean the white shirt, the tie, the black trousers - which most people wear anyway - and the horrendous jacket that will be kept in the cupboard somewhere in the dark recesses until he HAS to be worn. Well most people, there is a select number that dont bother with even a white shirt and black trousers. But then, hey they are likeable folk with smiles on their faces so it doesnt matter if they dont follow the rules or dont get many cover lessons.

Its not so much the style of jacket, its the colour. At least the women could wear their uniform outside and mix and match, even with the jacket. But the guy? Nah!!! Maybe about 0.05% of the male population could carry it off and almost all of them would be gay - even if you took the school badge off the jacket.


The saga of the id badges seems to be finally remembered as we are getting the uniforms. Apparently it wasnt enough just to pass probation, we needed the uniforms as well to get the proper school id badge. So again we are getting something that we should have had back in June but will now use for only a couple of months. Why they could have had a couple of stock jackets and ties the guys could borrow and use I dont
know. The photo is only 1 inch tall and its a head and shoulders shot anyway!! Same idea for the ladies.

Censored censored censored the censored censored!?! Censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored. Censored censored censored censored proper censored censored censored censored censored censored Friday censored censored censored, censored censored a censored censored censored censored censored, censored censored censored censored the censored (censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored ) censored censored censored censored. :)

Monday, January 02, 2006

End of a yeara

Well, the last couple of days at school went by without too much hassle as basically no one was trying too hard. Almost all the teachers were giving the kids Xmas activities or letting them run around in "English focused games" ahem.

Me? Well I was hard at work slogging away at the Xmas section of the book trying to teach them Xmas vocab. Like Santa, christmas tree, presents ( hint hint!) and so on.

Well, sort of. One period out of 4 and the rest was spent letting them choose whether to do a wordsearch or colouring in some cartoon picture off the internet. At least I didnt write up on my whiteboard when to bring presents in.

On that subject, again it seems to be the lower Prathom who are missing out in the present list. The older kids are smart enough to get the hints or know that giving their teacher a present at Xmas is what you do. Until Thursday I hadnt received one! Others were waltzing in with scarfes, ties, biscuits and the rest.

The last "work" day was a doddle as it was a basically a case of going round the individual home rooms and saying hi to the kids then going away. Now, hands up those of you who want McDonalds hamburgers at 9am? Pizza? KFC? crisps, biscuits, cake, ice cream and the like were all on offer. I have to admit I did eat some of it to be polite, after all when you get it shoved into your hand by a parent or kid you at least have to try - just not too hard though. I was tempted to pocket a few things for eating later but my pockets werent big enough :)

Oh yes, I picked up my first presents, a clock ( obviously a freebie from daddies bank ) and a pack of M & S Jaffa Cakes. Oh well, at least the Jaffa Cakes were nice.

The main reason for not eating so much was actually that we were going out for lunch paid for by the bosses. Now to be fair, the meal was nice and we got a Xmas present too - a pen. Whooo. The pen was just stupid, it spoilt the meal as it just reminded us of how high in regard they hold us .

And the hits just keep on rolling in!

It seems like over the holidays that the other program in the school got mentioned heavily on thaischoolwatch. Unfortunately, by the time I got there all the juicy posts had been deleted with a very strange change of opinion by one poster. I wonder if there was any behind the scenes pressure? Without that I couldnt see any reason why he would change his mind 180 degrees.