Amy Salmon's E-Mail from Thailand (Part 9)
The biggest thing that struck me about the whole weekend spent outside of Chiang Mai was how much more attention I seemed to attract just by not being Thai. Not only was the level of English markedly lower, but there were many hotel and restaurant workers who just stood and stared at me. It was a little unsettling, but I found it interesting more than anything else. They were transfixed by me, because they hadn't seen many foreigners.
My kids. I love them.
I have so many
different classes that I haven't been able to get to know the children
individually yet; I'm still trying to remember which classes are
more of a
handful than others. This seems to depend a lot on the teaching
of the Thai homeroom teacher, and also on how much English she
makes a huge difference in how much I can get done in the class.
takes twenty minutes to explain what I want them to do, that only
minutes to do it, and that leads to problems. Especially since
kindergarten classes are subscribing to something known as "TBM", or
"Teaching With The Brain In Mind", which emphasizes very strict time
schedules. Quite ironic given the concept of "Thai time", but
that's just another day in
The kids have at least three different uniforms that they need to change into, depending on which activity they're currently engaged in. Hula Hoops and Fun With English require different uniforms. All are equally adorable, by the way. My favorite is either the little red smock with the center pocket (perfect for crafts!) or what they change into when they all go to take their naps, which look like scrubs for mental patients. Seeing several hundred kids all parading through the halls, pillows and blankets in tow, on their way to and from naptime, is priceless. They are just so cute you can hardly stand it. And, although it'll probably be a good long time before I learn their names, they all know mine. We have huge ramps that go between the various levels of the building, which is centered around a large open courtyard, so if I'm walking to my office from one of the classrooms and the kids are on their way down the ramp to the room where they sleep, they can all see me. This results in many waves and choruses of "Ajarn Amy! Ajarn Amy!" or "Good Morning!", depending on how awake they are. It just doesn't get much better than seeing that many little faces smiling at you and so happy just to see you at the same time.
At the moment, I've settled into a routine that is
well where I teach the kids a song, and then have them do a craft
somehow related to the song. This allows me to teach them some
without teaching them to read and write, which I'm not allowed to do
their parents aren't paying enough money. (Don't ask.) By
crafts up into steps which I explain and show and then have them
follow, I get
to work with them on following directions and generally get them
little more with me on an individual level.
It's good for me to gauge where they are, particularly the
ones who won't sing, and it gives them a little
be one-on-one with me when their friends are busy doing
things. And seeing them smile when they understand, or
them really start to belt out "If You're Happy and You Know
It" with confidence that grows every week, is so rewarding.
I like the repetition of it
combined with the
fact that it gives me a little continuity within the lesson --
with related craft -- but with similar steps from week to
that the kids can start to know what to expect. I'd
like to do
a big, overreaching project with "Arky Arky" resulting in
learning new verses each week and having some big