Welcome to Sunday Summary, the meme in which I attempt to summarize the week that came before. The BIG NEWS is that my Lovely Lady Kanchana finally touched-down last night in Phuket following a separation in distance but certainly not love that stretches back to mid-August. Something that has been here for quite some time and still shows no sign of leaving is the rain. I don’t recall a wetter period in nearly twenty years living here than we have seen in the last month-and-a-half. I used to be a big fan of dark and dreary days but not any more!
My week started out a bit hectic as I tried to clear anything I needed to do workwise so as to have a nice holiday weekend. As tomorrow is Thailand’s National Day and yesterday was my birthday, I cancelled my weekend classes and spent the latter part of last week creating materials for two weeks’ worth of lessons. Unfortunately, on Monday I realized that I needed a few more flashcards so designed those during breaks at school so I could print and laminate them afterwards at home. While working on those, I received a message asking me to create some online videos for the K1 students. They’d been sent home following the morning flag ceremony due to an outbreak of COVID-19 and they won’t return until this coming Tuesday.
The school wanted two videos, not more than 10 minutes in length, with some instruction and a song to reinforce the topic. I have been using audio of “The Hello Song” by Singing Walrus at the beginning of each of my lessons for the past couple of years and still had a “Teacher Mark”-branded version of the video from my online classes of the early part of this year. I put that at the beginning, filmed myself explaining the flashcards I’d already made — video one was the phonics lesson (letter “J”) while the second clip was a review of colors with the answer to “Do you like____?”. The last step was to find a musical video clip for each topic, edit it to put my branding on it, and combine the whole kit-and-kaboodle into the two videos. I finished all of this by 10pm and I think I shocked my agency contact when I sent her a text telling her I had finished them.
Tuesday morning, I was informed that I would have to do some activities for Christmas on Friday, the 23rd and the school wanted me to teach the kids to sing Christmas songs. I know from past experience that this is difficult for even the best ESL students and didn’t relish the idea of doing this in Kindergarten (the OLDEST of my kids are around six years old). I was very appreciative, however, that the school is thinking ahead and that I have about four weeks in which to attempt to teach the K1 students “Hello Reindeer – Goodbye Snowman”, “Jingle Bells” to K2 and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” to the kids in K3. Well, three weeks for K1 given their lockdown last week.
Again, my first step was to find a good video with an easy to sing version of each song. Two came from Super Simple Songs and the other from Singing Walrus. Once again, I added my branding (designing a new “Christmas with Teacher Mark” logo that I will use on all of my holiday flashcards). The Singing Walrus song (“Jingle Bells”) already had on-screen lyrics but I needed to create those for the other videos. Once that was done, I took screenshots of the videos with the different lyrics, printed those and laminated them to make cards the kids could learn the songs from (and for me to remember what part we are learning on any given day).
This was a lot of work — between classes and at home — but I was finished with this prep in time to start teaching the K2 and K3 students their songs by Thursday morning. Some of the classes did really great but most were a real struggle as I tried to explain we needed to learn songs to sing for a show. The classes that did better were largely aided by their homeroom teachers explaining the task at hand to the children in Thai. Many of the kids still have not learned to repeat words or phrases after I say them. I might get one kid per class who will say “nose” after I say “nose”. To get them to say/sing any part of a song back to me sometimes seems to be an impossible dream.
But then another class will completely surprise me such as K3/3 who repeated the whole of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” along with a bit of choreography after their first 30 minutes of instruction! In contrast, all of the boys in K3/1 just run around screaming at the top of their lungs and launching themselves into each other whenever I try to play a portion of the music. Both days I tried to work on the song with that class, it looked like a mosh-pit at a Metallica concert. In fact, any given lesson in that classroom feels like that!
I kept telling myself, “We have enough time! We have enough time!” This is my mantra when all looks bleak.
With the rainstorms reverting to a late afternoon/all night “schedule”, we had a few hot sunny mornings during which I absolutely roasted during Gate Duty. We managed to have the flag ceremony outside three days this week but had to retreat inside the other two days when the rain returned to its morning slot. Thus, I still have not been able to present the Word of the Day (part of the supposed routine on Tuesdays and Thursdays) although I have prepared a new flashcard and speech for each missed day. I should have a nice stockpile once we finally start doing those.
Thursday afternoon, I began decorating my cubicle by putting holiday window stickers on the glass facing the hallway. Watching the reactions of students and Thai teachers alike was a lot of fun. I have one more sticker set remaining that I will put up sometime this coming week. I also ordered a small Christmas tree which arrived at my Phuket Town apartment yesterday and I will pick up tomorrow when I go to pay my rent.
I had to drop off something at my agency’s office on Sunday prior to returning to Kata so I decided to walk. It takes nearly an hour each way but there is a lot to see enroute, so it doesn’t seem so bad if the weather is pleasant. On the way home, I made a detour to take a few shots along Th. Phang Nga in Old Town. This was my only real walk all week other than hustling to 7-Eleven in downpours of varying intensity.
I was too busy early in the week to do much at-school blogging other than a couple of Christmas Postcards articles Sunday evening and Monday morning but was able to crank out a number of blogs from Wednesday onwards. I wasn’t inspired by any of my remaining unblogged holiday cards so I wrote-up one featuring Kit Carson’s house in Taos, New Mexico. I spent much of my free time Thursday putting together my first “Thainess” article in more than a month — trying to describe the 13 distinct smiles that Thai people give — and later writing about Netherlands’ 2022 holiday stamps, finishing that one Friday morning. Friday, I also dug up some memories about the old Opryland theme park in Nashville, Tennessee. Yesterday, I wanted to blog about the background behind the name of “December” that I had learned while doing research for my “Word of the Day” spiel at school and ended up with a lot more about the month than I intended. I had to do SOMETHING while waiting LL’s arrival on a very rainy day.
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According to MusicBee, I only listened to 43 songs for about two-and-a-half hours total playtime. This was a bit of live Bob Seger early in the week and then the first EP and two albums by The Cramps yesterday morning. The latter was inspired by discovering a video clip of a dance scene by actress Jenna Ortega on the Netflix series Wednesday that uses “Goo Goo Muck” from 1981’s Psychedelic Jungle.
I am about halfway through reading Lawrence Block’s The Burglar Who Met Frederic Brown.
I watched the final two episodes of 1883 early in the week as well as S05E04 of Yellowstone. Intrigued by the aforementioned dance scene clip, I downloaded all eight episodes of Wednesday yesterday and hope to watch one or two with my girlfriend this evening if she is willing.
I watched one movie this week — Michael Bay’s Ambulance starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Eiza González.
Nothing special. Mostly just the usual 7-Eleven food. I had planned to have another go at New York Burger but it rained every night I wanted to walk that way. Madame Burger was closed the one evening I remembered it so I still have not tried the closest restaurant to my Kata Beach apartment. Kan’s flight was late getting in last night (and I didn’t meet her until she’d spent another hour-and-a-half on the airport bus) so the planned “special birthday dinner” didn’t happen. I’ve been wanting for us to eat at a “real” steakhouse for months now so we will try tomorrow night as we have a couple to choose from in Kata — Two Chefs and Buffalo Steakhouse. This evening, we hope to feast on some street food at the Lard Yai (Walking Street) in Old Town.
She’s back! Enough said….
Photo of the Week
And that is my Sunday Summary for November 28-December 3, 2022. I hope the week to come is just how you want it to be. Cheers!