Sam Thompson

Back to reality

The new school term starts - and not without problems


Well, the break is over, and schools in Bangkok are starting back soon. Back to reality. And by reality, I mean scheduling issues, visa troubles, and other generally Thai school dilemmas. It will take a while to get re-acclimatised to structure (or lack thereof) after having reign of my own schedule for the last month-ish.
Well, I say month. Actually, my school had me do two different summer schools: the first was an English camp three weeks long right after school ended. It was relatively fun, short (two hours per day plus activities in the afternoon some days), and I got to visit Safari World with the students (see an earlier blog entry).

The second lasted two weeks, and was meant to help Mathayom 1 students get used to life in a high school. It was also fairly fun, only four hours per day, and neat to get to know the new students. However, typical of a Thai school, on the last day of the program, the day of the test, we found out that everything we taught them (English) and the tests we wrote for them to take for their M1 class placement was for nothing; the Thai teachers decided to give them their own test instead of ours.

I have no idea what was on that test, but I can guarantee I didn't teach any of it. All they had to do was tell us this up front and we could have taught whatever they needed to learn, but as is common in Thai schools, that didn't happen.

If my students learned how to pronounce the letters R, L, and V correctly, I still feel accomplished. I drilled it in them enough that they ought to remember. Still, it will probably look to the administrators like I am a terrible teacher; all of the students likely failed.

Another frustrating issue that comes with working in a Thai school: I was assured by multiple people at the school at multiple times that I would have the paperwork needed to change my entry-on-arrival tourist visa into a non-immigrant B visa before my tourist visa expired. Of course, this ended up not happening, so now I have to go all the way to Laos again to get another visa, and will miss the first week of school to do it. Naturally. Again, a lack of communication.

If I was just told up front that this would be the case, I would have taken care of the visa situation before coming back. But now, I have to spend 8,000 baht to get another visa and miss school to do so. Typical.

One positive note here: I did get observed by a panel of ten administrators and teachers during one of my summer school classes teaching English (keeping in mind that I typically teach science), and they seemed impressed. So that's good. My science department head later told me, in broken English, that she wants to learn English with me. So, even among all of the ridiculousness, there are little things that make it worth all the hassle.

We found out our schedules a day prior to the semester starting this term! I'm highly impressed; last term, we didn't have a schedule until two days into the semester.

Much of this may sound negative (and to some extent, it is), but in all honestly, it's par for the course. I love Thailand, and generally speaking, I love teaching in my Thai school. Even so, there are little things that crop up all of the time, and you just have to take them in your stride. Why worry, right? It's not like it will accomplish anything...

The way I see it, there are American and other English-speaking countries that are entirely too structured on one side of the equation, and Thai and other Southeast Asian countries that may be too little structured. Maybe one day, we can find a way to meet in the middle. But until then, mai pen rai!




Comments

Have you ever taught in a school in The US or Europe? An inner-city school in The US or Europe? Or a private/international school in Thailand? I think you are making generalizations and romanticizing your home country and it makes you kind of sound not so smart. But hey...mai pen rai!

By Tyler, Bangkok (4th June 2013)

Welcome to Thailand, buddy !

By jackthornton, BKK (24th May 2013)

Also taught in Cali. The union contracts were rarely followed (class size). I was limited in the amount of copies I could make. Spent a lot out of pocket on supplies for my class. Had undocumented workers children show up and then leave after a month or so. Can't say I miss it.

By JLR, BKK (24th May 2013)

I assume you need the Non-B for your work permit. If so then you can get a normal tourist visa changed to a Non-B at immigration here in Bangkok.

I had mine changed a few years ago and other teachers from my school have had theirs changed as well.

By Kenneth, Lad Prao, Bangkok (23rd May 2013)

You keep saying 'Thai schools' and 'Thailand.' During my nine years as a credentialed California teacher, my class loads and schedule changed during the first 6 weeks of every semester, notwithstanding the union contract. Textbooks often didn't arrive until 1 or 2 months into the term, and administrative problems in California were far more aggravating than anything I've experienced in my 8 years in Thailand. Having said that, you should ask your school to pay for that 8,000 baht visa run as they reneged on their agreement for visa 'assistance,' which is a major fail on their part. And have a great year.

By Guy, bkk (22nd May 2013)

Post your comment

Comments are moderated and will not appear instantly.

Featured Jobs

Lower Primary Teacher

฿47,000+ / month

Bangkok


English Teachers for Adult Students

฿90,000+ / month

China


Language School Management Support

฿54,000+ / month

Bangkok


English Conversation Teachers

฿33,000+ / month

Buri Ram


EAL Teacher

฿80,000+ / month

Chon Buri


EAL Teacher

฿80,000+ / month

Bangkok


Featured Teachers

  • Ronald


    Irish, 51 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Excel


    Filipino, 25 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Kenan


    Filipino, 32 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • William


    British, 63 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Mercy


    Filipino, 30 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Joann


    Filipino, 30 years old. Currently living in United States of America

The Hot Spot


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.


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?


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

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


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Walter van der Wal from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.


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.


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?