Today was my first day of school. There are so many kids– about 700, many of whom are bused in from other towns. I’ll have a ton of students– I’m teaching anuban 1 (preschool) and prathom 1-3 (1-3 grades), with 3 classes in each grade, and about 30 students per class. It’s going to be challenging for sure, but I’m hoping it will be fun and interesting too.
The first order of business was the school assembly. I was impressed to see that the school has its own marching band, and they are quite good. After many prayers, songs, and announcements, I was called up on stage to give an impromptu speech. I… er… uhhh…. yeah. Then they gave me a present and a ring of flowers, which is supposed to be good luck. Many of the school officials came up and gave me speeches, mostly saying that they hope I will be happy here. The teacher I am replacing left mid semester, and I had the opportunity to see her goodbye ceremony… the children wrote speech about how they were sorry. It was heartbreaking; they thought she was leaving because they were bad students, and they seemed genuinely downtrodden. I hope that I can pick their hopes back up.
I got a lot of different reactions that first day. Some students were very curious, and would follow me around the school. Some were very friendly and would yell “hello!!” and wave to me everywhere I went. Others looked positively terrified when I walked past. I figure I will let them come to me for the first few days– the ones that are scared can have some more time to get used to a new presence in the school.
I spent the day shadowing the other English teacher at the school and seeing what the students/classes were like. Let me tell you, we have our work cut out for us. This semester is the first semester EVER that there have been native/foreign English teachers at the school. Many students struggle to even say “My name is _____”. I just wonder how I’m going to go about teaching a class that has no background language to even understand basic instructions or explanations. I guess I will have to learn some classroom Thai quickly. Tomorrow I’ll be thrown into the gauntlet!