It’s been just about six weeks since I had my first day in the classroom and I feel just about as clueless as I did on day one…kidding. I’ve definitely come a long way since I had my rather eventful first day (you can read more about that day here), but that’s not to say I’ve got it all figured out. I teach eight 30-minute kindergarten classes a day. Some days 30 minutes goes by in the blink of an eye. Some days 30 minutes feels like 5 hours and I catch myself counting the seconds until the class is over. I have some really great classes that I look forward to everyday. I also have some really awful classes that I dread. I have favorite students. I have least favorite students. I have days where I want to pull my hair out. I have days where I want to walk out in the middle of class. I also have days where I love every second. I have days where I feel like I could do this forever. And I have days where I don’t think I can do it for another second. Bottom line is that, just like most jobs, there are good days and bad days. But for your entertainment, here are a few highlights from my first 6 weeks as a teacher:
Every time I walk into class, the first 5 to 7 minutes are about the same. I’ll play the “hello, how are you” song and I’ll take roll. In the beginning of the semester roll would take about 5 minutes alone because I couldn’t pronounce a single name and the students thought it was hilarious to listen to me try. Now that I can finally (somewhat) correctly pronounce each name, this process is much faster. However, in my 2/4 class I have a student named Asia (pronounced A-see-uh). Every time I get to his name and say A-see-uh, every student starts cracking up and says “A-seeee-uhhhhh”! Even though I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I just said, I repeat the name. This exchange happens about three times until a little girl named Clean gives me a thumbs up and says “okay, okay good”. And then, and only then, can I move on to the next name on the roll sheet (which btw is Monkon).
2/6. Ohhhhh 2/6. Remember when I was talking about classes that I dread? 2/6 would fall at the top of that list. Most days, I walk into a quiet classroom with all of the students sitting in a circle and a seat for me at the top of the circle. About two minutes into class, there are only about 10 students still listening to me and the rest are jumping off of tables or punching each other. I’ll start on vocab until there’s only about 5 students left semi-listening to me. Throughout this process I’ll yell “Nip!” which means “quiet” in Thai. The room will go silent for about .2 seconds and I’ll feel a small sense of accomplishment. Until every kid starts cracking up and yelling “nip, nip, nip!”. Four year olds are mocking me. New low.
Without fail, one student is bound to cry in my 2/2 class. It is honestly a very big day if we can get through the 30-minute class without someone in tears. This is normally how it goes down: I’ll be starting on the vocab words and most students seem to be engaged and listening. I’ll start to explain the activity or pass out a coloring worksheet and someone starts bawling crying. I’m not meaning watery eyes or a few tears. I’m talking full on floods of tears. I will normally hug the child and ask them what’s wrong (which is a task in itself because, you know, I have no idea what they’re saying). The child will usually say something in Thai and point to another student, who will then begin bawling crying and then point back at the other student. Now I’m just confused. Why are they crying? No clue. Will I ever know? Absolutely not. This usually ends in a high five and about four minutes later they’re happily rolling around on the floor.
There are plenty more stories I could share with you all, but I think I’ll leave it at that for now. At the end of the day, teaching is hard. It is much harder than I imagined it to be and it is much harder than I was prepared for. But, it is also much more rewarding than I thought possible. It brings me more joy than I ever thought I’d get out of a job. Will I be a teacher forever? I honestly have no idea. But for now, I’m happy and I’m learning just as much from a few four year olds as they’re learning from me. Here’s hoping this is one of the easy days!