For those of you who are curious about what I have been up to these past couple of months….
|Bpratom 1 (First Grade)|
School officially started on May 14th. On Monday through Thursday I am at my school from around 7:30 in the morning until 5:00 or 5:30 in the evening. I teach two hours before lunch and two hours after lunch. I have two co-teachers, one who teaches bpratom (primary) and one who teaches matayom (secondary). I help teach both of the first grade classes, both sixth grade classes, and both eight grade classes. Each class has about twenty children average, which is paw-dii (a good amount)! I really like that all of the classes I teach have two groups, because I am able to lead the first group (while my co-teacher provides support) then my co-teacher leads the second group (while I provide support). It gives me the opportunity to model new teaching strategies during the first class then allows my co-teachers the opportunity to try to lead and implement some of the strategies with the second group.
|Matayom 2 (Eighth Grade)|
I am grateful to have two co-teachers who are really supportive and try to humor me by giving my crazy ideas a try. They are also both really great about devoting time each week to planning our lessons together and brainstorming ideas. Communication is difficult at times, but with each passing day their English improves and my Thai improves (I think!) as well. Even though we were warned in PST, I am still blown away by how much our teaching is interrupted. It’s not unusual to be called in for a meeting with the principal right in the middle of teaching a class. Classes aren’t held on scouts (boy and girl scouts) days, and Thailand seems to have a lot more national holidays than America does. (Including substitute holidays, which give us an additional weekday off if the holiday happens to fall on a weekend…) There are also trainings held during the week that my co-teachers like to attend sometimes.
When teachers are not at school, generally class just isn’t held. When this happens, the students are often just left in the room by themselves. Some of them try to work and learn independently, but for the most part they just socialize with one another. I have had to set my boundaries early on that in order for me to teach, my co-teacher must be present. It’s really difficult for me to do because I would much rather be teaching than sitting at a desk, but I have to keep in perspective that my main goal in my community is to focus on the sustainability of through working with a counterpart rather than independently. The Peace Corps staff has encouraged us (TCCS volunteers) to set these boundaries so that we do not fall into becoming a substitute teacher. Even though this could potentially help students short-term, it would miss the point of our program, which is to work closely with Thai teachers to make a larger long-term impact that will continue to benefit students long after we leave. For more information about my (and Zack's) program goals, click HERE.
|A session on healthy relationships|
Helping with camps also takes me away from my site/school sometimes. Zack and I have been really fortunate to be able to attend and help facilitate several English camps, a life skills camp (Zack only, see post titled “Teacher Zack”) as well as one sex education camp. One of the English camps was for school principals (see post titled “Picture Update”) and the other most recent one was for the entire teacher staff at the school of one of the principals who attended the English camp for principals. We’ve learned so much from these experiences that we hope to be able to apply here in our own community. Helping at these camps has also given us the opportunity to travel a little bit on the weekends and observe other volunteers at their sights. It’s been a really good experience and has allowed us little breaks here and there when we are feeling overwhelmed and just need to get away for a little bit.
|Zack facilitating an activity at a local school|
To give more of an update on Zack, he is working really hard trying to visit all of the schools in our tambon regularly. He works with teachers at the schools to facilitate English and life skills activities, but it is difficult to find the time to truly collaborate with all of these teachers. He recently connected with a music teacher at my school who seems like a really great potential counterpart. Zack is excited to be able to engage youth in our community through music and have music be a regular part of his life again. Not having music as a part of his daily routine has been really difficult.
Stay tuned for updates on our new rental house that we just moved into! After nearly six months of living with host families, Zack and are a beyond excited to finally have our very own place!
Click HERE for the Sex Education Camp pictures.
Click HERE for pictures of my first weeks of teaching, Zack working at the local schools, and the teacher English camp we helped with.