Rob Newman

Act professionally please

Why don't teachers act like teachers for a change?

There are loads of people out there who for whatever reason want to teach in Thailand. There are though, only a few who realize what teaching is really about. Most teachers come here from a non-educational background, and as such don't really know what is involved in working in a school.

Let's start with the biggest problem: Hours of Work.

Thai schools are notorious for thinking they own their teachers, body and soul. This is due in large to the way they treat their Thai teachers; six or even seven day weeks, one or maybe two weeks holiday a year, if they are lucky, start at 06.30 or 07.00, finish at 17.00 or 18.00 or even later. Why should foreign teachers be treated different? Don't all scream at once, it isn't my point of view it's the Thai administrations.

Teachers in Thailand really fall into two categories, school teachers and language school teachers. As language schools tend to work outside normal business hours the biggest problem for teachers is getting enough hours to make a living. Corporate clients all want the hours between 5 and 8 pm, with very little work before this. All other work is on the weekends. There is always private work, but usually not enough to keep the wolf from the door.

Schools on the other hand fill the big gap during the day. A typical day in a Thai school starts at 07.30 sign in, there is then an assembly with the playing of the national anthem and some words of wisdom from one of the teachers who can't put the microphone down. This could then be followed by a mass berating for some unknown fault of the students. This is normally done in Thai so the poor English teachers stand around thinking what a waste of time; they could be somewhere else having a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper. But such is the life of a teacher. Assemblies are part and parcel of being a teacher.

Teaching hours do vary from school to school, but on average a foreign teacher will be expected to teach between 20 - 25 fifty minute periods per week. A Thai teacher will on the other hand teach around 10 - 15 periods per week.

Pastoral care of the darling little children under your care is nearly all done by the Thai teachers. Most school don't trust foreigners to take care of the wee ones. Any foreign teacher who volunteers to do pastoral work will be very welcomed by the Thai teachers, but looked at suspiciously by the admin, except at a few of the more enlightened schools.

Your down time between lessons is not for drinking coffee, but for checking your pupils' work, creating lesson plans, arranging interesting activities for your lessons, marking homework, preparing tests and exams, keeping records. All the things teachers do. The hours of work are there to work, not shirk.

When you go home at 16.30, or even earlier, the Thai teachers are still working.

I can hear your screams, "They don't pay enough to keep me at school all day." "What's the point of sitting around when there isn't any work to be done?" "Why can't we go home when we have finished teaching?" "What's the point of starting so early when my first lesson isn't until after lunch?"

Start looking at things from an employer's point of view. Start thinking like a teacher, teaching isn't a 9 - 5 job, it's a profession taken up by people who want to educate young minds. It isn't about money, but about teaching. Teachers all around the world start early, finish late. Most take work home with them. It is a way of life, not a way of getting rich. If you want to get rich working, don't be an employee. If you don't want to do the hours of a teacher, don't become a teacher.

Before you start a job you are told the hours of work. You have the choice to accept or decline. If you don't like the hours in a school, look at language schools for employment. You can have a lie-in in the mornings, work hard two days a week, and, maybe earn enough to pay the rent a buy a few beers. The choice is yours.


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