Finally– the part where I start teaching!
Our way to Chon Buri: basically just a big, blinding headache. We jumped from our tour bus from Khanom, to a crammed minibus (after stuffing our tons of luggage in the back of it), to a tuk-tuk with a driver who got lost and asked for help from a passing by Thai woman (who spoke English!) on a motorbike.
Then, finally, we arrived at our apartment building. It was called the “Ing Swiss” and had very pleasant and welcoming workers, who were notified by our agency prior to our arrival that we would be showing up in need of an apartment, took us to our room. After climbing four flights of stairs (yeah, no elevator. Super unfortunate, I know), we arrived at our room. It was basically nothing more than a hotel room, really. There was no kitchen, which I noticed first, since I thoroughly enjoy cooking. But, that’s apparently the way it is here. You’d have to pay significantly more if you wanted an apartment with a kitchen. However, it had a queen-sized bed, a small resin wicker table with two matching chairs, a closet, and hey– a bathroom with a Western toilet. That was a huge plus!
This is our apartment at the Ing Swiss
We decided to take the apartment, especially because it was only a five minute walk from the school. …That, and we were exhausted from our travels and were not about to go apartment hunting.
Monday, November 17th
Our first day at our school! And our first day ever as teachers!
When we arrived to our school a little before 7:30, we didn’t know where to go or who to talk to. Fortunately, we ran into another foreign English teacher, who knew where to go (it was also her first day). We were to report to our boss’s office, which was the MEP Office.
Just some info on our jobs: we were hired as MEP teachers. MEP stands for Mini English Program, where the teachers, who are native English speakers, teach English once a day every day, then Science, Math, Health, and P.E. once a week.
The three of us went to the MEP office and spoke with our new boss, who we were supposed to only call Khun Kung (pronounced “koon koong,” which basically is the polite name for a teacher, who told us to just go to our classes and teach. This was a bit disconcerting because none of us had a clue as to where our kids were in their classes, considering it was the beginning of the third week of school for them. But, we went on ahead to our classes anyway!
My first class was English in second period. When I nervously stood in front of the class, I introduced myself as Teacher Marilyn. While introducing myself, I wrote three things about myself on the board: I am 22 years old, I am from America, and I have an orange cat.
After that, I had them all write three things about themselves. Unfortunately, a lot of them started copying what I wrote, but after I better explained what I wanted, they got the gist of it and wrote about themselves.
After they finished that, I decided to continue on to my next plan of action: People BINGO!
Classic ESL game. I handed out BINGO boards that I made before going into school. In each box on these boards, I had phrases such as “tallest student in class,” “has a dog,” “has a cat,” etc. In each box, my students had to find someone in the class that fit the criteria of one box and have them sign their name.
Too bad a majority my students didn’t quite understand the phrases I had written on the sheet, so they just scribbled random names all over the paper and handed them back to me. Then, time was up and their next teacher came in!
The view from my desk in my classroom
I sat down at my desk, waited until third period was over, and got up to teach them science during fourth period. Science, by the way, has always been my worst subject, so I didn’t know where to start or what to do. I asked one of my students where they were in their textbooks and he told me “Photosynthesis.”
So, I turned to the Photosynthesis chapter in the textbook, ready to just improv my way through the lesson, but all of my kids were running around with plant seeds and water bottles, saying they were going to grow plants.
I was entirely confused and overwhelmed, fearing I had to teach kids about growing plants in plastic bottles. Fortunately, the Thai science teacher showed up and did everything with the kids, since I shrugged at her in a plea for help. I just kind of waltzed around for the rest of the lesson and said, “Cool!” to all of the seeds they were planting in their water bottles.
After fourth period, I had lunch with Matt and sat at my desk for the rest of the day, which was fine because I figured out what I was going to do the following day.
When school ended, I was exhausted, although I’m not entirely sure why, since I only taught a total of two hours. Throughout the rest of the week, it was pretty much the same thing, only a bit easier because I knew what to expect: 30 confused ten-year-old Thai children who were adorable and excited to get to know me better.
At the end of the week, Matt and I were completely drained, but we were ecstatic about our new jobs and, of course, our students. All of our students were kind to us and approached us and attempted to communicate with us as much as possible. We had an outstanding first week and, despite our exhaustion, couldn’t wait for the weekend to be over so our second week could begin!
Thanks so much for reading, guys! I hope you enjoyed! Remember: you can leave any questions/comments you may have below. 🙂
Next post: Hell Garden in Bang Saen
The view of early morning Chonburi from our balcony (please excuse my fingertip in the second photo)