Where do I even start to explain how amazing this experience has been!? When I found out I had eight year two classes for two weeks, I knew that learning all of their names was most definitely out of the picture. However, I did not anticipate how easy it has been to get to know each of the students’ personalities. Some struggle to understand a single word that I am saying, where others know so much English, you would think they were from Australia! No matter what class I have, they always appear to be engaged in the educational games I play with them, even asking if they can play it again and again and again!
It has been so helpful to hear feedback from Kim and to watch all of the other students at my school teach a lesson. This experience has definitely developed my own professional practice. I feel like I have already improved my teaching abilities in the short amount of time that has been provided to us.
Last night (Tuesday 19th June), we got to experience an amazing lounge bar called Sky Bar. This is one of the highest buildings of Bangkok. The sky cleared up just in time for us to travelled up fifty-three floors and then walked up glass stairs to get to the top. The few people who were afraid of heights hanged on to the rail very tightly for this part! The view was amazing! All of the city lights shinned around us as we laid on the lounges with our drinks, watching the lightning make beautiful patterns in the sky. It was a great bonding experience. I am so lucky to be on this trip with such an amazing group of people and I’m sure the friendships that have been formed will continue back in Australia.
A fun day was had by all at the Makassan School today. The morning was filled with a long assembly to celebrate ‘Teacher Respect Day.’ This gave students an opportunity to pay respect to their teachers and us as guest teachers.
Proceedings started with presentations of education scholarships from a Monk to some of the school children. It was interesting to see the respect held for the monk as both students and teachers bowed down to the ground in front of him and wouldn’t face their back to him. We were then greeted with warm hugs from smiling faces and felt like royalty. The students gave us flowers as they bowed down to us too.
After we ate lunch, we had one final practice of our performances for the afternoon. We came outside to all the students sitting in class and year groups and led our farewell assembly. We sang the Australian National Anthem after they sang their Thai National Anthem and then the fun began. With Matt “MCing” and Jesse on guitar, it was a real hit. We performed Waltzing Matilda, Old McDonald, and Home Among the Gumtrees and our classes sang the songs they had learnt throughout the weeks. This included the Hello song, Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, and Days of The Week in addition to the Hokey Pokey with the staff. Claps for all. It then felt like the last day as our classes bombarded us, we posed for photos and received gifts from our teachers.
After nearly 2 weeks here, it was good to see another side of our school and the Thai culture that differentiates it from schools at home.
Today was our final day at the university school and it was a sad, but fulfilling finish.
The day started with a presentation at the morning assembly. We thanked the school in Thai, wrote an acrostic poem with the word ‘Thailand’ and sung the Australian song ‘Home among the gum trees’. After the assembly, we all taught our final lessons, took lots of photos and gave our students and teachers presents. It was so sad to say good bye because it had been such an incredible experience and the school had looked after us so well.
After lunch, we returned to the hotel and freshened up for the function in the afternoon. The function brought a good sense of closure as thank you speeches and presents were given from the university and from all three schools. Many teachers from the school attended and we enjoyed chatting to them and reflecting on the two weeks passed.
The whole trip went so quickly and was very worthwhile as we all learnt so much.
Today marked our third day of teaching, and it was with a mixture of excitement and tiredness that we all met in the hotel lobby at 7:30 am. Despite the heat and humidity, it really is fantastic to see all the other teachers passion and enthusiasm as we share what we’re going to teach that day. After waving off half the group to the Makkasan school, the teachers heading to the University crammed into an extremely crowded train and made our way towards school.
Our school looks like a mixture of Disneyland, and a giant cubby house, mainly due to the wonderfully colourful striped buildings and the slippery slides that run down the stairs. It’s quite nice to know that when we’re tired, we can slide down five stories, rather than walking! I think that all Australian schools should have something similar. The Thai teachers are all so welcoming and accommodating, are all going the extra mile to make our time at the school easy, whether it is interrupting everyone else’s photocopying to get ours done first, or making sure that we’re eating enough at lunch time!
When I asked one boy what his name was, he seriously turned around, and replied ‘I am Iron Man!’
I was lucky enough to teach the same class twice today, and so was able to get to know the students a little better. Having a class of fifty is certainly a challenging and interesting experience! My behaviour management skills are definitely being put to the test, and I’m learning a lot about being very flexible and very patient. First we learned to introduce ourselves in English, including saying ‘My name is…’ and ‘I am … years old.’ When I asked one boy what his name was, he seriously turned around, and replied ‘I am Iron Man!’ I couldn’t help but laugh, and soon I had a whole table of boys who were all clambering to be superheroes. After each lesson, all the Australian teachers meet together and talk about what went well, and what we struggled with. It’s wonderful to have such as great group of people who are so willing to help each other out.
Thailand has been a wonderful experience, and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to teach such amazing classes with a great group of people. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of our time here will bring.
After a 9 hour plane trip we finally landed in Bangkok, yay!! We were all very excited to finally land and were welcomed with 100% humidity outside the airport. We gathered onto the bus and endured a two hour bus ride through peak hour traffic, amusing ourselves with Nathan’s mind games. Upon arrival at the hotel we were greeted by the acting dean of education Ian and his lovely wife Rita, we quickly settled into our rooms and then made our way to dinner. All very tired from a long day of flying we had a quick dinner at a local restaurant and then headed back to the hotel to get plenty of rest for tomorrow’s adventures.
“…we cannot wait for tomorrow…”
Saturday started with a beautiful buffet breakfast at the hotel. In the morning we were treated to a tour by Ian that took us on our very first adventure on the local sky train and finished with a hike to the schools where we will be teaching for the next two weeks. The group will be split in half, so that there will be eight teachers at the university school and eight teachers at the temple school. We were all very excited to see our schools and were even greeted by some very enthusiastic students, they all seem so lovely.
For dinner we were treated to an amazing all you could eat buffet and a traditional Thai show that took us through the history of Thailand and the process of reincarnation.
Overall it was a very full-on and very exciting first day in Bangkok and we cannot wait for tomorrow where we will be treated to a local river cruise, How exciting!!
Day 6 – Thursday
Sa-wad-ee-krap from Teacher Matt.
7:30am: We met in the foyer and after a quick head count we all piled into our taxis eager to see our students again and teach. The previous night we experienced the power of Thailand’s rainy season and as such the streets this morning are drenched making for an interesting taxi ride. Despite the conditions our driver made good time and we arrived at Makkasan School at 8:00am, giving me time to prepare for my first class 3/2 starting at 8:30.
Day 2 – Sunday 9th June
Once again we all gained a bit of a sleep in, not having to leave for our day out until 9.30! To start our day we caught the Sky train down to the main river in Thailand that runs out to the sea. There we hopped on a skinny little boat and took a 1.5 hour boat ride. Ian (the Dean) informed us to keep our mouths shut because we did not want any of that water going into our mouths! After seeing some beautiful temples, mansions, so many disadvantaged homes and plenty of people were soaked from the brown river water by the time we were back at the dock.
From here we caught the sky train to Siam, where we saw a beautiful flower display and visited the MBK; a HUUUUUGE shopping mall with 2,000 shops inside! We were given some free time and allowed to go where we pleased. Most of us went to visit the magnum restaurant and play on the musical staircase. After this some people went shopping, others went ice-skating, while the remaining people went to the Aquarium. For dinner we went to Bully’s, an Irish pub. We enjoyed some pool and ‘Western’ food, before we had to return back to the hotel to plan our first lesson!
It was a great day seeing some amazing places. It was a little confronting seeing such low socio-economic status and then right next-door people living in mansions. We definitely saw the great gap between lower class and higher class, with no middle area; it a massive divide.
Day- 3 – Monday 10th June
First day of our practical experience, everyone was feeling a little nervous but excited at the same time. We all could not wait to meet the children and teach but were all concern at the level of the students understanding of English. We had another group photo before separating to go to the different schools.
Day- 3 – Monday 10th June
On the first day of our practical experience, everyone was feeling a little nervous, but excited at the same time. We all could not wait to meet the children and teach, but we did have concerns about the level of the students’ English. Yet another group photo was taken before we separated to go to our different schools.
We took a ride in a taxi, which dropped us off at the university instead of the secondary school. We had to try and walk to the school, only relying on our memories from our tour on Saturday. We were greeted by a lovely teacher at the gate, and were then taken to where the rest of the group was waiting, all with exciting stories of their taxi experiences.
The group was then divided and Kim Mckeen, the primary students, including myself, were escorted to the primary school where we were given a tour. The school was amazing. A new undercover soccer field had recently been built with synthetic grass with a large pool nearby for swimming lessons, and a new playground. The size of the grounds, and the height of the colourful buildings were amazing. All the teachers were lovely and welcoming as they helped us settle in. They had even set up an office for us to use in preparation for lessons. We were then given an opportunity to sit and observe an English language class, and we learned a lot from the experience.
Later that day, we went for dinner at a local shopping centre, Terminal 21, where each floor represented a different country from around the world. Most of the group walked back to the hotel after dinner, looking at the street market stalls along the way.
Day 4 – Tuesday 11th June
Today started with leaving the Noveltel Fenix at 7.30am. 8 of us headed off in 3 brightly coloured taxis to the Makkasan School with Robyn. This trip cost 50 baht. The traffic was good today so we arrived within 15 minutes. Today was our second day of teaching at the Makkasan school. We love our school. The students and teachers are friendly and very welcoming and they are excited to have us.
We have a staffroom set up for us where we do our lesson prep while not on a class teaching. Classes started from 8.30am and are all 1 hour blocks. We have received individual timetables with most of us teaching 2 lessons per day. We get called teacher and then our first name for example, Teacher Peta. The classrooms are small and usually are organised in rows. The class sizes range from 19-40 students. All the classrooms have a white board and or a black board.
Student’s are given lunch in the cafeteria from 11.30-12.30. The Thai teachers eat in the cafeteria also. Our lunch break was from 11.30 -12.30 and we ate with the students and teachers. The food was delicious Thai dishes. Yesterday was pad Thai and today was rice, chicken, cabbage and vegetables. After we ate we mingled with the students in the playground, talking English, having photos and just having fun with the kids. We all really enjoy this mingling time and getting to know the students.
Today was a great day and our group is really enjoying the experience even though the language barrier is difficult. We are working hard on classroom management plans and learning fast from each lesson we teach.