Sam Thompson

The end of an academic year

It's a hectic team for teachers especially

International schools are approaching the end of the year now, and for both teachers and students, it's among the peak stress periods of the year.

Just within the last week, for example, my school has had prom (which was more like a banquet, if you ask me), a huge school-wide spring concert (featuring West Side Story and several other bits), middle and high school finals (almost two weeks prior to the end of the school year), and senior graduation (which, for some reason, also at occurs two weeks before the end of the normal school year).

Simultaneously are end of the year student projects and portfolios, grading finalisation and comments, and school accreditation/department/event meetings.

Advance planning for a change

On top of these "typical" things, teachers have been generally told what courses they are to teach next year (wow, in advance!), and are thus having to organise book orders, syllabi, and "schemes of work" providing general year-long plans of what is to come next year. This is especially difficult for teachers that are getting many new "lines" next year (like me); although I still crack a grin every time someone asks me about my "lines" (lingo for courses, not cocaine),

I've thus far been set up with five different classes (three of which are new, thus unplanned, for me), and planning-wise, there's no grinning to be had. Unless I can convince the headmaster otherwise, I'm currently slated to prep and plan for grade 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 courses, and because of the vertical nature of my assignments, there's nothing I can really duplicate between any of them. Cue the violin.

Mayhem. And how do I deal with it? Well, I write a blog posting, obviously.

When I used to teach in a Thai school English Programme (EP), the end of the term generally consisted with... well, writing and grading finals the last week of school (one of the few times when a Thai school makes more sense than an international school), and being forced to sign in for no apparent reason the month after. Sure, there was some amount of stress, but the feel was far more sabai sabai (chill).


I've noticed that the end of the year stress also brings on a stronger ‘office gossip' mill too, which has a nasty habit of getting in the way of doing all those finalising tasks that are far more pressing. One of the things I miss most about working in a Thai school is having no idea of what office politics were going on, nor having to care (not speaking Thai has its advantages), whereas working with a bunch of farangs (foreigners) means there's little way to avoid it all.


Still, even with these negatives and high end-of-the-year workload in a different style school in Bangkok, I do at least get to find some solace in seeing a more tangible level of progress with my students than I've measured in years past. Oh, and I can have a coffee maker in my room. Does this fully counter the exponentially higher workload?

Ask me if/when I survive the end of the year.

I hope you enjoyed my blog. If you would like to get in touch or perhaps e-mail me with a question, I would love to hear from you - All the best, Sam Thompson.


I partially agree with Liam's comments, jobs with higher salaries can actually pay a lower effective hourly rate once extracurricular hours are taken into account, they certainly make you work for it. However, private classes also require some form of preparation and you spend time and money on travel unless you work from home. I think it balances out in the long term, especially when private class cancellations are taken into account.

By John, Bangkok (5th June 2016)

Not to sound like a lazy bastard, but I'd do a lower paying job over a international school any day. I've been offered a job that was 60k and the workload was insane. The way the schools see it is that if you're earning a 'whopping' 60k, you're downright gonna work for it.

I now earn a base salary of 48k. I just teach. I have 22 periods a week and I'm done at 3.45. Sure there's some marking, but that's about it. I can then go on to teach privates for 600-1000 Baht an hour after work.

I average about 70k a month. Not massive, but I pretty much only teach. I have no stress and don't have to deal with other people and extra curricular activities. No dealing with admin and director and their harebrained ideas.

It's commendable teachers work so hard, but education is an ugly business here. People are exploited left, right and centre. My advice for any teacher would be to take the lower paying jobs where you only teach - and then go on to teach adults etc for extra cash. It's a way less stressful life.

By Liam Gallagher , Republik of Mancunia (26th May 2016)

So the over worked international school teacher is not in my head. I was a part of it for a while and am now back in the Thai government system.

Once again Thai education is leading the world. Seriously, after reading this it now sounds as though international schools are spending much of the educational time doing this for entertainment instead of creating students with the ability to question and think for themselves.

I am also earning the same money i was earning when in an International. No it just clever on the part of my Thai bosses.

The rest of the world seems to be following Thailand in that all the correct pieces of paper must be presented before any time can be spent with the students. They must learn to fill in the boxes with 1 correct answer.

Oh and by the way. The signing in at a Thai school during when on holidays is for accounting reasons. The correct paper work must be accounted for so the ministry of education does not lower the schools budgets. It is just like immigration. If you do not have the right paper work you do not get the visa.

Good to see the neo liberal fascists continue the race to the bottom. Lets fly more flags and be scared of everything because our education is failing us.

By t mark, chantaburi (25th May 2016)

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