Mark Beales

Expect the unexpected

Sometimes it’s better to go with the flow and stop asking questions.


Staffrooms vary from school to school and from country to country. Some local teachers will go out of their way to show you around; others may barely acknowledge your existence.

Sometimes everything can seem a mystery. During my first weeks as a teacher I shared a staff room with Thai workers, who did their best to speak some English from time to time, but generally conversations didn’t extend much beyond ‘good morning’. 

Lessons on tourism?

One afternoon I looked at my schedule and noticed two extra classes had been added on Mondays and Tuesdays. My assistant explained these were lessons about tourism, and that I didn’t have to do much. That was understating things a little; it turned out I didn’t have to do anything. The first lesson consisted of some children reading out a little English, and then my assistant took control and spoke Thai for the remainder of the class. After 15 minutes of standing at the front expecting to be called upon, I took a moment to enquire exactly what I should be doing.

‘Oh, in this lesson you don’t do anything, you can sit down if you like,’ my assistant said.

‘Maybe tomorrow I should bring a book,’ I joked.

‘Yes, good idea.’

For the remainder of the lesson, and subsequent ones, I was no more than a bystander. And if they happened to have lessons outside and it was a bit hot, I could skip those and stay in the nice air-conditioned staff room. The school hadn’t allocated me as many lessons as local teachers, so they tagged these ones on so at least it appeared I was doing the same amount of work.

The urgent meeting

In addition to phantom classes, you may well come across the request for an ‘urgent’ meeting that transpires to be as crucial as having enough teabags for the staffroom. 

Before my second day at school I was told to get in by 7.30am, 20 minutes earlier than normal. Keen to please, I was there at 7.15am and waited as 7.30am passed, and then 7.45am came and went, and finally assembly began and there seemed to be no good reason for my early arrival. 

The only reassuring thing was that everyone else seemed to have a purpose and know what was going on, and I felt confident that eventually they would think to let me in on the secret. Sometimes it’s better, no actually essential, to go with the flow and stop asking questions.

In my next blog, I'll share some teaching anecdotes from my years in a Thai classroom.


- Above blog adapted from 'Teaching English' (How to Teach English as a Second Language)

Links

Visit Mark's website (lots of stuff on Mark's travel adventures, photography, etc)

Buy Mark's book - 'Teaching English' (How to Teach English as a Second Language)

Browse Mark's Amazon author's page for publications he's written for.

Follow Mark on Twitter

Read Mark's Hot Seat interview on Ajarn.com



Comments

Totally agree! This was my experience in my first school! I just learnt to not stress out at the unknown and went with the flow ☺️

By Marvin, Kalasin (15th January 2022)

Post your comment

Comments are moderated and will not appear instantly.

Featured Jobs

HS Math Teacher (Calculus, Algebra, Geometry)

฿90,000+ / month

Thailand


Elementary Teacher

฿50,000+ / month

Nonthaburi


NES Teachers

฿40,000+ / month

Thailand


Academic Tutors

฿1,200+ / hour

Online


English Conversation Teachers for May 2022

฿35,000+ / month

Thailand


Full-time Native Chinese Teacher

฿43,000+ / month

Bangkok


Featured Teachers

  • Jerome


    Filipino, 31 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Nolan


    Canadian, 39 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Kail


    Filipino, 24 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Anamaria


    Romanian, 42 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Emily


    American, 27 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Suu


    Myanmarese, 49 years old. Currently living in Thailand

The Hot Spot


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.