Sunday Summary #26

Welcome to Sunday Summary, the meme in which I attempt to summarize the week that came before.

Ah, Valentine’s Day is coming up this Tuesday. Or, as we call it in Thai schools, Sticker Day. Rather than exchanging cards or candy hearts, the students here plaster each other head to toe with heart-shaped stickers. But given local adhesives, the majority will fall off the kids’ shirts and pants before the day is through and fall to the ground where they will inexplicably adhere to the floors and roadways of the Kingdom for months to come. At least the outside ones have a chance of being washed away when the monsoonal floods once again cover the land but the others are taken care of low- (or no-) cost workers armed with putty knives. I feel for the floor cleaners of Thailand at the time of Saint Valentine like no other time of the year.

We also have Super Bowl LVII to look forward to, at least us fans of American football. I’m not really a fan of the game itself as I only watch a single team — win or lose. Thankfully, for the past few years the Kansas City Chiefs have remained firmly in the W column under the guidance of Coach Andy Reed and superstar Quarterback Patrick Mahomes (not to mention Travis Kelce and so many other talented members of this team). In February 2020, at the dawn of COVID, the Chiefs went to the Super Bowl — the championship of championships — for the first time in 50 YEARS. And they won it!

Having won the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship two weeks ago (scoring the winning points with just three seconds remaining in the game), the Chiefs will play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Kickoff is about 14 hours from now as I write this. For me, that means 6:30 Monday morning on a school day. I arrive at my school at 6:30 every morning and have a non-stop schedule from 7:30 until 11:30. I might be able to listen to snippets of the game as it happens (the AFC Championship game was only broadcast here in Spanish) but I likely will be alerted to a win or a loss by a text from my sister. Whichever is the outcome, I will remain a supporter of this team (although I hope I can add a new Championship jersey to my wardrobe!).


This was quite the whirlwind week with the only real difference being that the daily presentations by children at the Morning Flag Ceremony and Assembly are continuing. I think that the Thai teachers are using the rehearsals and performances by the kids as a way to give them assessment points as the school year rapidly approaches. Most of my photos this week were taken of various mini-shows and I shot video of most of them.

We found out this week that the end of the school year is once again being shortened. Rather than finishing on 30 March as our contracts stipulate, the last day of school will be on 17 March. No word on what that means to our salary but I think they will be reduced to reflect the short month. Prior to that, the school will be closed from 27 February until 7 March so there is another week lost (more than likely unpaid). Worse than that, if we hope to review for final exams we need to do that prior to the school closure as the tests will begin the day that the students return.

That really is not as bad as it sounds. My exams will be spoken only and I have a system in place that I hope the Thai teachers will assist with. The 30-minute class periods will be a problem if they change to an “exam schedule” but if the regular weekly schedule remains in place (two lessons per week in K1 and K2, three in K3), I can test a small number of kids per period. I like to set up a desk in the hallway and have the teacher send the children out one by one in numerical order (they are each assigned a number within each of their classes). With an oral exam, I have a laminated sheet with the questions (mostly images at the Kindergarten levels) and a score sheet pre-labeled with each students’ number and name. I score as I go and they usually run fairly smoothly; sometimes the kids clam up or some other unforeseen event occurs (such as last year when there was a fire drill while I was giving tests, complete with smoke bombs tossed into the classrooms; I was told to keep my kids upstairs to complete the test but we were all soon coughing from all of the smoke!!).

At any rate, this will be my last week for “new” vocabulary and the lessons on Monday and Tuesday will be all about Valentine’s Day. I have been integrating colors and numbers review into almost all of my lessons for the past couple of weeks in addition to identification of the letters. The kids are still struggling with the latter but know the basic colors and can count to 12 without any problems (13 and 15 always throw them!). For some reason, few ever remember “brown”.

I really felt bad for this group of kids who rehearsed their hula hoop routine for a couple of hours each day last week and this week during the afternoon naptime (I am not sure how the other kids could sleep for the loud music either). The teachers were brutal and strict and you could read the exhaustion on the kids’ faces.

More rehearsal footage…

This video clip is seven minutes of snippets of the full 10-minute plus routine which was done under the hot sun during Tuesday’s assembly. Mistakes were made and I could hear the teachers screaming at these kids as I went back upstairs afterwards. They have to do this in a competition soon but one needs to remember that these kids are five and six years old!

The theme of Recycling makes its appearance at Thai schools once every year and is quickly forgotten. I can recall seeing sorting bins in use at only two schools in nearly 20 years of teaching in Thailand. At this particular school, there are few trash bins (let alone those for recyclables) and every morning I see the monks picking up trash blowing through the temple grounds as it is just tossed aside by kids, parents and teachers alike.

The Chinese teacher — Lily — gets her moment under the sun every Wednesday and Friday with her Word of the Day. I think today’s word was “cookie”.

Every school has at least one class filled with “problem” kids. At our school, that is K3/1. The ringleaders are two foreign children — the boy is from Ireland while the girl is from France. Both speak excellent English and so are bored with the material that is presented to the class (not only in the English lessons but also Chinese and Thai). They cause constant disruptions and the other kids have joined them in their mayhem. Their homeroom teacher is a first-year educator and ineffectual at commanding the children’s attention. There are a few kids that try their best to listen to me but the din usually overpowers my voice (I rarely yell). The Chinese teacher constantly complains at how bad they are. At least half of the students are running around screaming at any given moment; other Thai teachers have come inside to yell at them (usually to HIT them!) to little or no effect.

During my Tuesday afternoon class with this “problem” class, I decided to shoot a bit of video, just to show the Chinese teacher that they misbehave during my lessons, too. There are some really good kids in there as you can see but also some naughty ones. The Thai teacher was sitting at her desk during the entire time. She used to tell the kids to “be quiet” and to “listen” but they just ignored her so she’s stopped trying. You can see at the end that the kids began sitting down, probably due to my video-recording.

When I started working at this school, I was told expressly NOT to give the children anything on paper. Our lessons together were to be “Conversation” only and that the Thai teachers would teach them to read and write in English. Ha! That certainly hasn’t happened. At other schools, I have always relied on a mix of teaching methods and materials to put some variety into the lessons but the curriculum at this school is pretty much all presentation of new vocabulary and no time for games (or fun). The few times that I have attempted games (and that is difficult given the 30-minute per lesson timeframe), have been met with the Thai teachers yelling at the kids to sit back down just as I am getting started on a find the flashcard or match the card game. The kids are expected to sit there on the floor in their rows and not move a muscle as they look my way during the entire 30 minutes! Of course that doesn’t ever happen (nor do I want that).

But this week, I decided to try a little experiment in the “problem” class, K3/1. On Tuesday, I gave them the week’s vocabulary (we are at the end of the alphabet — words that begin with X, Y, and Z) and the video above is what most of that lesson was like — yet another boring session of Teacher holding up flashcards as the kids repeat and spell. Wednesday morning, I gave them “forbidden fruit” — a worksheet containing some practice using the words we learnt the day before. While I could tell who listened the day before and who didn’t (most of them), they were intrigued at getting to do something different and they suddenly formed little groups in which they helped each other complete the two-sided worksheet.

Most did not finish the second side of the worksheet (writing the words for two objects they then had to color) so we did that for most of the lesson on Friday afternoon. The end of that lesson was a review of the words which they all paid complete attention to. Well, you can see the change in these photos and video clips.

Look at how happy the boy (Nin) is! He is one of several students who always struggled with the naughtiness of the other students. Sometimes he will stop by my cubicle on the way to the restroom and ask if I will teach him something “quiet”. Of note, their homeroom teacher was not in the classroom for much of my lesson with them this past Friday (she was lurking in the hallway). Now that she has seen that they can behave, perhaps she will be able to take a short break from the room now and then (she really does deserve it because these kids really can be a handful!). In spite of their “problem” status, this is my favorite class in the school as I do really like the kids, Odd how we feel sometimes.

This is my view most mornings as I open the front door of my front door to begin the four-minute walk to work.

Another day, another assembly.

The last kids’ performance of the week and the only one that I couldn’t figure out what they were trying to teach us about. Oh, well. They were still cute.


I blogged a lot this week — again — just not here. Since last Sunday, I posted ten articles on the rebooted Philatelic Pursuits site; I will soon purchase a new domain (probably a .net or .org as my old .com is still unavailable). Not sure if the old links will redirect or if I will need to go back and physically change them here. We’ll see. I still have some plans for the future of this personal site but have not had time to start any of them other then a few cosmetic tinkering here and there. Perhaps the upcoming school holiday will see me add some of the content that I have ideas for. Time will, once again, tell.

Latest Posts on Philatelic Pursuits:

The companion Facebook group now has 83 members which is pretty good for a week’s tally. I haven’t really promoted it around social media yet.


This week, I listened to a lot of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (including most of the first concert of the new tour — recorded in Tampa, Florida, on 1 February) as well as Steely Dan from Aja onward, XIXA, and a quite a few early recordings by Los Lonely Boys.

Still reading a bio of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Very interesting.

Didn’t watch anything at all (other than the video clips shared above). Not even a single YouTube video.


Go Chiefs, go! Let’s win this Super Bowl!!

And that is my Sunday Summary for February 6-February 12, 2023. I hope the week to come is just how you want it to be. Cheers!

And, no, I didn’t forget…. Here’s a trio of shots of my Lovely Lady Kanchana, still up in Bangkok. She video-called right after I transferred my photos from my phone for this week’s “Sunday Summary”” and I also include an older photo of Kan with two of her “sisters” at the beach….

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