On your marks, get set, go!
The legendary school sports day
They loved me and I mean loved me, out of my 562 pupils at least 350 have told me so! All genders, heights and attention spans were transfixed and I was a hit. Yes their attention spans were lengthened due to the fact that I was a foreign grown girl and a further 3 minutes were accrued due the fact my hair was the same colour as Thai girls but my chest wasn't. It took me two weeks to admit to myself that I was the class freak, but as most Hollywood teen flicks prophecy the popular girls get pay back, so took it as compliment from the universe that it had decided to go easy on me.
My unique and shiny newness appeal of distraction fast began to wean as the weeks passed, the teacher's book accompanying the class text books became my crutch. Devouring the (complex) Arial pt 10 font filled pages I craved the advice, re-wrote and memorised lesson plans to the point of Rain man delirium. Nothing was working, they weren't listening which meant they weren't learning.
Guilt. The teaching comedown. Thus I enrolled in the S.A.S influenced teacher aid training course title - Quick think of something fun fast that will keep their attention, help them understand superlatives and make that god damn big hand move faster.
No support materials or refunds were provided but viewing of past Rolf Harris television shows was recommended for time effective drawing. Teacher just doesn't cover it. Perhaps the job title section of application forms should include a drop box section titled ‘ Secondary job titles' inked, recorded and processed evidence that teachers are not a one word entity. As a reference I believe that some of the following could be used - a dancer, a singer, an athlete, a juggler, a comic, a target, an artist, a punch bag, a climbing frame, a referee and an aerobic instructor.
Yes aerobic instructor - you try doing 3 successive classes teaching head, shoulders knees and toes, including the mute and backward version and then have the audacity to tell me that your glut's did not get a Fonda style work out! And in a room without air con I might just well add.
The circus master required skills were tricky to get, but the rookie mistakes passed me by and I started to get results. Points began to be made and the understanding light began to ‘ping' and illuminate their faces. And then that's when it happened. The date for Sports Date was made official.
A panic seemed to hit the school, 50 minute long lessons were cut by 10 or 20 mins, teaching days were completely cancelled. The children HAVE to practice for Sports Day. Banished to our staff room we increased our coffee intake and discussed heatedly the necessity for the time cuts and casually bragged about our own sport day glories. Intrigue grew, what was going to be happening on sports day?
When I asked my students what they would be doing, they all answered ‘cheering and running'. The cheering I knew about as different groups of children sat out in the court yard on rotation (one practice spot was outside our office and I believe that certain war courts would declare thi s as a form of Chinese torture) shouting trance inducing repeated flat motivating chants, again, again, again, and yes you guess it again. But surely they would be doing more than running?
Naturally I caught the enthusiasm of the impending day, yet I began to become anguish ‘ What colour are you teacher?" Realising that my caramel cream complexion had become a mute U.K autumn colour, white was my answer. Confused looks were explained away by my head of department. The school had 4 houses, with 4 colours so the kids wanted me to declare my telly tubbie coloured allegiance. Would this be the only time that wearing tye dye would be acceptable? Next thought - how long is my resignation period. Dramatic? Err...hello TYE DYE!
My style scarf ice was saved...well no not saved, just not as deeply tarnished. Apparently teachers had their own unique colour - dull purce. Exactly style was being more than comprised and when I tried on my xxx L top, it was being down right ,mocked. But at least I had a coloured fence to perch while I could cheer all the coloured teams.
Shirt on, accompanied by Jackie O glasses (the universally accepted glamour-band aid) sports day was about to begin. Naively I was expecting to be whisked off to a near by stadium or at least directed to a gigantic auditorium that I had not yet found. Erm......nope. Under canopies opposite the outside basketball court I watched a parade that would have Willy Wonka feeling under dressed for. Electric, neon, Vegas and then came the dancing girls. From the ages of 4 to 18 the girls were clad in rubber, lycra and every hookers favourite trick magnet - fishnet stockings!
This not anywhere like the apparel that Nike scientist spend 16 years developing. Oh and then came the music and least this was thematically linked to the day - relay. Madonna followed by Britney, Britney and Madonna dueting and then Britney followed by Madonna blared from the sound system with the girls shimming in unison in their painters paletted costumes. Not yet recognised as a main event and worthy of a gold in the Olympics, the best dancing group, those with the killer-kick-fall change were awarded medals.
As for the boys, well they spent the day running in straight lines various lengths, the longest distance being 200 m's and the real skilled runners had to run bare foot? That day the only tan lines I had were on my forehead. Where was the javelin, disc, long jump or even the shot put event? This is what has had all the pupils so determinedly preoccupied with?
Preparing for sports day in England for most involved rain, Tiller the Hun sports knickers and humiliation as you feebly attempted each event. In Thailand, hours in front of MTV was the compulsory training attendance. I was so born in the wrong country.
But I was inspired. Put on a show and keep the children entertained - teach Thai style.
All I had to do was chorography impactful lessons behind a pink camp curtain of sequenced entertainment. At last I had an excuse to wear sequins before cocktail hour!
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