It’s Over

The current teaching job, that is.

I’ve been “invited” to resign, and I’ve gladly taken that opportunity.

I get a month’s notice ( legally mandated ) , which I’ll work out during the best possible month, October, which contains two weeks paid holiday.

It’s a resolution to the doubt and intrigue that’s been hanging over my head recently, and it’s a relief, to be honest.

I’ll chalk it up to experience, which will look good on my CV, and aim for better wages and conditions in my next contract. Much more on that when I’m outside the country and thus safer to say whatever I want.

At the moment, the plan is to go to Vietnam at the end of October.

Onwards and upwards.

The Ice Queen Cometh

More dubious news on the job front this week when a mysterious unsmiling stranger ( pictured ) began turning up in my classrooms.

Which would normally be no cause for alarm, except that she was clearly not a student, and said not a word. Not a nod, not a smile, not a hello, not a name.

I assumed I was being blessed with a new Thai co-teacher, and so it proved.

Now you might assume from the charming photo that the news was bad, but not so. It was worse. When I introduced myself it became clear that my Thai is better than her English.

Ulp. This is bad because this is the person who is supposed to do the following;

  • relay the orders from On High
  • help in teaching the class / giving students directions in Thai who might not have fully understood my English
  • perhaps give suggestions as to classroom management and / or lesson plans.

And maybe I’m seeing things through Western Eyes, but I would have thought basic courtesy dictated at least an attempt to introduce herself to me. No matter which culture.

It seems not. I know better than most that ‘just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you’.

But it looks suspiciously like this outfit’s track record of keeping NES teachers in the dark and guessing continues unblemished.

The statue co-teacher has twice now moved my deadlines for exam setting and sitting forward with no notice.

It almost  as if fostering a state of permanent fire-drill (hypervigilance if you must ) serves their purposes…

English Program Teachers

Eep, just found this English language page ( choose ‘Englsh Programme’ Dropdown ) with mugshots of all ‘RayongWit’ English programme teachers.

It looks as if they’ve ordered the mugshots first by seniority ( first two ) , and then by age.

As you can see, it’s an odd bunch of loners and ne’er-do-wells. Of the Causasian faces, all are American except myself, Rosie ( English ), and Edoardo ( Italian ).

The rest are Thai teachers, and about half a dozen Filippinos, many of whom have been at the school since Forever.

There is, apparently, a lot of enmity between the NES and Filippino teachers. Both cohorts teach in English, but the NES teachers are much better compensated.

Below is the original version of my mugshot. This is my attempt at looking professional in a pass-around school jacket three sizes too big.

Teacher : Registered

Apparently this document means I’m now a registered teacher. In Thailand.

I think this is the second-to-last hoop I have to jump through in the Byzantine Thai bureaucracy.

The last isn’t so much bureaucracy as it is the school giving itself, and its students, an ‘out’.  In case a teacher suddenly begins sniffing glue in the classroom.for example.

That is the student review, due after three months. I passed the 3-month mark yesterday, as did most other NES teachers who began this term.

I’m not sure how much of a formality this is. I have heard dark whisperings about somebody who failed the student review, but that’s only hearsay.

As with many other goings-on at the school, one does one’s best with the murky information forthcoming, and keeps one’s head down.

It seems to be working thus far.

 

Cruise Control

Easy days here right now, and none too soon.

The stress of setting and then supervising exams is over. I’m officially at work, but there’s nothing I have to do today.

Time to futz about with my new install of the Linux mint operating system on the laptop. Hydrating. Warming myself. And suchlike.

Exams – Setting

Setting exams was a drama. I’d earlier set tests for some classes, so assumed it was just rinse and repeat, with extras.

Wrong. After the first drafts, my Thai co-teacher tells me the fonts, format, and nearly everything else is wrong. I’m given a list of requirements.

Take two. I rewrite, to be told that the HOD has vetoed the exams for reasons which remain fuzzy.

I’m due for an in-class assessment by the HOD, so I assume I’ll be able to clarify things then. But when the HOD doesnt show for the scheduled class, I start job-hunting as a backup.

TWO days after I send a detailed explanation of events, and basically asking ‘what now?’, my Thai teacher tells me my exams have now been approved.

Apparently, there were machinations in a department meeting. It’s all very mysterious.

But that decision gives me the impression I’m a truckload more secure in the job than I been.

So my exams will be held in my scheduled class times ( easy work ), as compared with …

Exams – Supervising

The past three days have been spent cooped up like chickens watching students sit other exams.

Two days of four-hours a day in a room with no air-conditioning, swilling water to try to compensate. One day of the same with air-conditioning.

Light, tunnel

Today, I’ve done my time supervising, and get my rationed relief.

Tomorrow is a day of supervising my exams with my regular classes. The same for several days next week.

And Monday is a holiday. It’s the King’s birthday.

Long live the King.

 

 

 

 

Head down, arse up

So one of my old teachers used to say, back in the previous Millenium.

And that’s the situation at the moment, with mid-term exams coming up, and certain fools ( me & the other foregin teachers, for example ) having to write the questions.

In a case of small mercies, I’ve been told they should be multi-choice, but it’s still a truckload of work. Fifteen-plus classes spread over 6 yaers ( grades ).

Not to speak of needing to mark all the assignments I set via Google Classroom so that we can belch out a mark for each student. And then matching the Thai names with ones I can actually read.

So this is where I earn my keep.

But in the words of a late great Uncle — “buy the ticket, take the ride.”

MR. Pedant to you

In the work outfit for teacher’s registration mugshot. Another bureaucratic step. Today I also got a form for the landlord to sign confirming that I’m a resident alien

Embedded

Just noticed this on my desk this afternoon. Does this mean I’m embedded? Or ensconced? And like the other ( native English-speaking )  teachers, it’s spelled out in full.

Day 2 Teaching

Much better today – better prepared, with a clearer idea of subject. Plus I got to pad out the lesson with a 15-20 minute introduction, using Google maps and images to talk about myself and NZ.
Five classes today, all of them the first time with that particular bunch of kids, so I did the intro in each. I met with Thai teacher Film before each to confirm lesson subject. Some of them were repeat lessons with the same grade, but a different stream, so just repeated and honed a previous lesson. Plus getting used to projecting the computer onto the whiteboard, and using apps within Google.
Relearned an old lesson – bribery works. They have a credit system whereby they earn academic points for good class performance. So I give them away for good answers, and suddenly there are a lot more hands up.
Another beginners trick is to avoid spending the entire lesson talking, instead include an activity or get them talking.
Most Thai kids seem to know a combination of these things about NZ – sheep, and kiwi ( birds ). No-one knew about the All Blacks ( Thailand it seems is a football nation ). One class knew a helluva lot including Maori being the first people,the dairy industry, seafood, etc,etc.
That class was older, year M4, about 15-16. The school is M1 to M6.
Film ( Thai teacher ) is always there in lessons, so he’s a good safety net if I start fumbling the ball.
The kids are really well disciplined and respectful, so easy to keep class control. I did have to raise my hands with a loud ‘thank you’ class to close off a paired group discussion session, but all good.
I also discovered that the school canteen is dirt cheap. Bought 6 hard-boiled eggs for 40 baht ( < $2 NZD ). I can't cook in the hotel rooms, so a wee stockpile never hurts.

First Day teaching

Not to put too fine a point on it, this shit’s hard!!

Five classes ( @ 50 minutes a time ) today. Brilliant support from Thai teacher ‘Film’. Without him I would have been pretty much clueless as to lesson plans. He knows the syllabus, and I don’t. To soften the blow a little, I took the opportunity ( following advice from another NES teacher ) to use a part of each lesson to introduce myself, and talk a little about NZ, with the help of projected Google maps and images.

After work, I treated myself to a first swim in Thailand. The big rock groynes they use have created at Seang Chun beach produce large and shallow tidal pools. Good for wallowing in, but to do  any real swimming you need to go out beyond the groynes. It was getting dark, and I had all my valuables in a bag on the beach, so I didn’t risk it. I donated a couple of teaspoons of blood to the really vicious wee sandflies, or mites, in the roadside sand. But it was a small tax to pay – the water was beatifully warm at 7pm, and of course, I always feel better after an  ocean swim than before.

One more day of work tomorrow, then the main weekend mission is to find some permanent digs. Tempted to take up the Mae RamPhung beach offer after tonight’s swim. Watch this space.