I was really hoping that I would be able to report back something more positive than yesterday’s post. Unfortunately, that just is not the case. To give some indication of how FUBAR this morning was, I was back home by 10:30. I still have no idea when I will begin classes at this school nor, anything at all. The only thing I got out of the trip to school was a free ride home on the back of a motorbike… in the pouring rain.
Before today, I had been promised that I would teach in the Intensive English Program (IEP) for Upper Primary and Lower Secondary classes. I was really looking forward to this as you can hold “real” conversations with students who are motivated to do well. These classes would have been quite similar to many of my adult business classes with a higher than average level of English comprehension.
While we were waiting to meet with an administrator about our schedules, I was told by one of my agency’s staff members (three of them met us at the school this morning) that I would be teaching Upper Primary grades M4, M5, and M6 only (equivalent to grades 10, 11 and 12 in the U.S. and elsewhere). This staff member wasn’t sure if that was in the IEP or the regular English Program (EP) or the General Program (GEP). The latter tends to be full of students with rather poor English skills but the classes are much smaller as many leave school at the M3 level. I always assume the teenagers in those grades are much better students due to their not departing for technical school or work. Most schools do not even have those grade levels available. Perhaps not as great a spot as the IEP but this sounded pretty good to me.
We waited some more. Several Thai teachers remembered me (I have a long history of fill-in and semi-permanent assignments as well as English camps and other activities at this school) and greeted me warmly. They commented that they were thrilled I was returning and were looking forward to working with me once again. One of the foreign teachers in our group received his schedule (the one I’d originally been promised). Oh, well. By then I had talked myself into being motivated by the Upper Primary whatever program they were in.
After some more time passed, the two Filipino teachers were sent home as they would teach Kindergarten which hadn’t started yet. The other remaining teacher and I were then escorted over to the Primary level IEP classrooms. We were told we would “split” the classes in P1-P6 as each are taught multiple times each week. After quite a bit of discussion in Thai, the other teacher (from South Africa) was given a hastily drafted schedule which he immediately balked at. It seems he was taking all of the P1-P6 IEP classes and had a tremendously full schedule as a result (including some lasting until 5pm which is outside of contract hours so he was worried about being paid for all of those).
That teacher then left the room in search of a place to set-up for an impending online class. The Thai teacher in charge as well as my agency’s staff members began gathering their things, preparing to leave. “What about me?” I asked. “Oh, you not teach now. Not sure when start contract.” OK, but can you give me some idea of WHO I will be teaching? I was shown a schedule with the caveat that “this not official” and there were some twenty class periods on it, ALL in various subsections of P1 and P4 (going up to P1/7 and P4/7). In the GEP. Those levels tend to be the worst of the worst. Most GEP classes are HUGE (60+ students is quite common) and discipline can be a problem.
So, if this is what I will end up teaching, I am really not looking forward to it. I am sure I will have to spend half of my time yelling over the din of all those kids fighting and playing. I really don’t like raising my voice but there is often no other way to heard unless I invest in portable speaker system and microphone (which some teachers actually do).
On the plus side, if I am only teaching these two levels, there will not be much prep time involved with two different lessons taught ten times each (just slightly adapted for each individual class). I think I would rather have six or more different lesson topics to prepare each week than just two.
Thinking about preparation, perhaps I can find an old curriculum and start making some lesson plans. At least, I will have something prepared in advance. Because, the decision will surely made with no advanced notice. This is, after all, Thailand….