Wai Kru Day

Last week at school we celebrated Wai Kru day, also know as ‘Teacher’s Day!’ Wai Kru day is a ceremony celebrated amongst schools in Thailand where the students pay respect to their teachers to express appreciation and love.

No classes took place periods 2 or 3 at Thida on Teacher’s day, instead all students and teachers proceeded to the domed area where ceremonies took place. The Sisters, teachers and students sang numerous songs and read several prayers to commemorate the special day in the Thai school year calendar. It was a joyful and heartwarming morning where representatives of each class showed admiration for their particular teacher by acknowledging them with a flowering plant.

The students at Thida are amongst some of the most kind and loveable children I have ever met. Days like these really make teaching in Thailand a unique experience.

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MEP Restaurants

This semester I’ve been trying to do a lot of projects. I have a very difficult class of prepubescent girls and motivation and positivity is not their strongest attribute. I’ve found that doing a lot of projects and independent work has improved the students English as well as motivated them.

Here’s a rundown of my current English Project:

Teacher Dave (P6) and I are working together to coordinate this project. Students from both of our classes will work in groups of 4 to create their own restaurants. Each group was given a cuisine to learn about. Each group will think of a restaurant name and create a menu with 5 meals, 2 appetizers, 2 drinks, and 2 desserts; the students will also need to include descriptions and prices for everything on the menu.

Cuisines include countries such as Italy, Korea, Japan, and Greece; 15 cuisines in total were given but Thai food was excluded. Students work together in class and at home researching their cuisines on the internet.

Once the students have finished creating their menus, they’ll write, rehearse, and record short 30 second long commercials for their restaurant. Commercials should be funny, yet informative. Teacher Dave and I will record and edit the commercials. Once the commercials are finished, we’ll have an in-class showing so the students can see each restaurants’ video.

Next, we’ll have the P5 and P6 classrooms turned into mock restaurants. Students will operate their restaurants by taking orders, describing dishes, and delivering meals to the other students who will be playing customers. This is meant to be a fun activity that gives students the opportunity to use meaningful language in a pretend restaurant environment.

Finally, once the project is completed, we’ll have a food day in our classes. Groups will be awarded extra points for bringing real food into class. For example: The Italian restaurant group should bring a dish found in Italian cuisine, while the group with Japanese cuisine should try to bring a Japanese dish. This is of course not mandatory and only for fun. This will give the students an opportunity to try some of the different cuisines we have been discussing. It’s also a fun way to finish the project. Teacher Dave and I also plan to cook some American food and bring it in for the students to try!

Extra help

In the last few months teacher David and I have been helping some of the students prepare for English speech competitions. It’s been fun getting to know students with a bit more 1-1 time. It also makes you proud to see them do well with something they’ve worked really hard on. One student, Vanessa, got 3rd place in a speech competition with 30 different students.

Currently, I’m helping Dave work with Vanessa again, as well as a student in my class, Ploy, who’s also going to be competing in a different speech competition. As of today, I started helping 3 students prepare for an group English quiz competition, in which they’ll be asked Science, Math, and English questions.

It’s been a lot of extra work but I’m happy to help the students and see them succeed.

Vacation!

There are 2 days of school left before the October break begins. Everyone is excited for their vacations and having some time out of Surat and away from school. A lot of teachers are traveling around Thailand or going to Indonesia.

I’m flying to Singapore to visit a friend who I worked with in Korea. From there, I’ll be flying to Sri Lanka for some solo travel time. I don’t have much planned but I’m hoping to get out on a blue whale watching tour, which is apparently one of the things to do while visiting. If nothing else, I’m just looking forward to some time to relax and read a book on a beach. Unfortunately, I think I’ll be fighting with monsoon season. Either way, I’m happy to have some time to myself in the near future.

Camp Games

I have a camp coming up soon so I’ve been perusing the internet for some fun games to play at my station or during one of the assemblies. Here are a few that might help you if you have a camp coming up, or might deserve a go in the classroom.

Evolution

First off, I realize some of us work at a Catholic school. Maybe calling the game “Evolution” is a bad idea. It could be called “The Change Game,” “Intelligent Design” or “Denial?” Your call.

Have everyone start out as an “egg.” Have them place their hands over their head and together to make a circular shape, like an egg. Once you say “Go!” each egg will pair with another egg and play Rock, Paper, Scissors. The winner becomes a chicken, then placing their hands on their ribs to create wings. Encourage them to cluck and peck. The loser remains an egg.

Say “Go!” again. Now, chickens battle other chickens and eggs battle other eggs. The winner of a chicken vs. chicken match becomes a dinosaur, making T-Rex arms and roaring/screeching. The loser goes back to being an egg.

On “Go,” dinosaurs will battle other dinosaurs, chickens other chickens, and eggs other eggs. A winner in a dinosaur vs. dinosaur match becomes the Ultimate Human, placing their arms, fists made, out and straight like Superman. The losing dinosaur goes back to being a chicken, etc.

On one more “Go,” Ultimate Humans battle other Ultimate Humans, dinosaurs other dinosaurs, etc. The winners remain Ultimate Humans and the losers go back to being dinosaurs. The remaining Ultimate Humans are the winners. I suppose dinosaurs can be second place winners.

T-Shirt Relay

You’ll need one extra large t-shirt for each team and one judge for each team. The judge should make sure the shirt is pulled all the way down on each camper and no short-cuts are taken in the heat of competition.

Have the teams line up in single file. The shirt is given to the first student in each line. On “Go”, the student puts the shirt on and then holds hands with the next student in line, facing that student. All the other students work the shirt from one camper to the next so he or she is then wearing it. He or she then turns and holds hands with the next student, and so on.

Teams need to have the same number of players or some need to put the shirt on twice.

I doubt they’d ever forget the word “shirt.”

Frisbee Dodgeball

It’s the same as Dodgeball, but with durians.

Twister

I’m thinking about making a Twister game, buying one, or simply taping colored paper on the floor. Ambitious teachers will make a spinner, others might write “left foot,” “right foot,” “left hand,” “right hand,” “green,” “blue,” “yellow,” and “red” on pieces of paper and put them in two different bags to be pulled from.

Long Weekends

In this, the first and longest semester, long weekends are very important. They’re important because they allow you to rest and travel a bit outside of Surat as well as for your mental well-being.

This upcoming weekend is a 4 day weekend thanks to her Royal Highness, the Queen’s birthday, which also happens to be mothers’ day. We’ve had a reasonable amount of long weekends this semester but this 4 day weekend is coming at a perfect time and I couldn’t be happier to have a few days out of town.

Everyone has different plans. Some teachers are going diving, some are going to Bangkok, some are even staying home (crazy), but I’m off to Koh Phangan. A few of us are going to explore a new side of the island we have yet to visit and avoid the full moon backpackers.

I’m crossing my fingers for a few days of sunny weather.

Teachers and Tourists

One thing you quickly realize, or I did rather, is that you want to distinguish yourself as a local and not a tourist in Surat. There are quite a few tourists wandering through Surat waiting on a bus or ferry to their next destination. If the locals confuse you, a teacher, with one of them, you’re very likely to get treated differently.

If you want the local price and the local treatment, you’ve gotta make it known that you aren’t a tourist. What’s the best way to do that? Well, it isn’t saying “hey! I live here!” or “I’m not a tourist!” Usually, speaking a bit of Thai, frequenting the same shops/food stalls, and not dressing like a backpacker will help.

Once you’ve lived here for awhile it’s pretty easy to pick out the backpackers. If you see a guy walking around town with his shirt off, which is exceptionally rude in Thai culture, you know he’s not a foreign teacher and you want to distance yourself from this guy as much as possible. If you see someone paying a tuk tuk driver 400 baht for a quick ride down the road, you know they’re a tourist.

I once got a tuk tuk home after getting off a night boat and had an interesting experience. In the little Thai I can speak, I told the driver where I wanted to go and didn’t ask the price. Typically, if you don’t ask the price for a tuk tuk and you speak in Thai, they know you know the ropes. After telling the tuk tuk driver where I needed to go, I watched him haggle with 3 Swedish girls, who he ended up charging 400 baht for roughly a 1km ride. How much did he charge me for my ride that was easily 3 times as far? Well, I gave him 30baht when I got out of the tuk tuk and he knew that he couldn’t argue; I was a local.