Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Raw INFJ: 2-18-14 Another Day In The Life Of A Farang Teacher

     It’s 4:45 PM, I just purchased my Thai iced tea, and I downed about half of it within a minute. Yes, it’s one of those days. My original plan was to stay after school, mark some books, and then come home and read, but after staying after school for merely 10 extra minutes, I broke and just decided to leave.
     Every week has been an uphill battle to learn my kids’ behaviors and fine-tune my teaching methods to fit them. Some days, I feel like I really make a difference with them, and I feel so proud of them and myself for finally making it through. I often smile on those days and come home wondering why I ever felt like giving up or asking myself if I was sure I really wanted to leave Thailand. But most other days, I remember why I feel like I’m just wasting my time and effort, wanting to move elsewhere where I feel like I can have an actual impact on others.
     As unbelievable as it may sound, especially when I go on rants like this, I love my students; I wouldn’t trade them for any of the other classes, even if they behave better than mine. They are adorable, I love their personalities (although a few are questionable), and I really want to help them grow as English language speakers. Maybe my goal for them is too lofty, seeing as my class is completely different from how I first imagined it was going to be. I saw myself--before all this--creating fun learning games all the time for kids that would be eager to learn from me.
     Every time I’ve tried to do something fun though, my students ruin it. Just the other day, I tried to bring in a science experiment to illustrate the concept of sinking and floating. Half of my students just spoke over me when I tried to explain the terms, even as I used simple and broken English and gestured wildly with my hands. The other half kept getting up from their chairs and coming over to drop things into my giant tub of water or sticking their hands in. I yelled, I demanded for them to sit down, I even took the experiment away, and yet they still continued talking over me, standing up, and completely taking advantage of there being something occupying my hands. I ended up shutting off the lights, yelling at everybody to copy down the table I had put on the board, and allowing only a few good students to come up to do the experiment. I found this extremely sad because I really thought they’d enjoy doing something hands-on and would follow directions if they knew they could really get involved.
     That is not an isolated incident. Sadly, it happens almost every day, so I’ve had to rely on worksheets and packets to get them to actually do work. I never wanted to become that type of teacher that screams and throws packets at her students, and I know I wouldn’t be this way in a better-controlled classroom environment. What I walked into, however, was this, and try as I have to fix everything, I honestly can’t do it on my own. My Thai teacher, whose responsibility it is to help me control the students, is so frustrated with them herself that she leaves during my teaching periods. 
     Anyway, today, toward the end of the day, I realized yet again that my students only respond to me letting them work with their friends on worksheets. After working for an hour and a half, I asked for our little cleaning team to clean up the classroom, erasing the whiteboard and sweeping the floors. Two of my boys decided to puncture holes in their water bottle caps and spray the floors with water. Noticing this, I was very angry and told them to clean the floors, but one of them ran around, slipping and sliding with a broom, screaming at the top of his lungs. The other stayed across the classroom from me so I couldn’t grab him and continued to spray water when he thought I wasn’t looking. I was miserable and I knew this would look horrible to my Thai teacher when she returned. I knew I had no control over them, so I took the broom away from the screaming kid and told him to sit in a corner for 10 minutes after school. The other student who refused to help clean up the mess, well, I made him sit down in another corner too. 
     I wish I could say that I handled that the best way possible, but I know for a fact that I didn’t handle that well at all. What I can say though is that I handled it the best I could what with the students ignoring my commands and thinking it hilarious to disobey me. Thankfully, the Thai teacher returned, and like a tattletale brat, I immediately pointed at the two students and tried to mime what happened to her. I was so embarrassed because it happened under my watch, but seriously, I wanted the students to be accountable for their actions more than I cared about how irresponsible I looked as a teacher to her.
     With all that mess taken care of because the students jumped to do her bidding at once, I just slumped down at my desk and tried to get work done. I couldn’t even begin because I was so disappointed in the students and myself. My mind still races to find solutions all the time, but there is pretty much one and a half weeks of school left, and I’m running out of time. I think part of me is just going to stop caring really soon, which means I’ll just let them talk over me as long as they’re seated in the classroom. Well, if they fail, it’s not my fault. 
     I hate being this teacher. I still come to school every day with hope in my eyes, and I feel that every time I leave, I’m disappointed, frustrated, and plain exhausted from trying so hard. I’m definitely glad that I still have some energy left to try, but there’s only so much energy I have left for these particular kids before I’m sucked dry.
     Speaking of being sucked dry, another issue that has arisen is the multitude of mosquitoes taking over our school. Every classroom teacher is battling with them, especially as they like to hide in the kids’ cubbies, the bags the teachers carry to school, and they fly in from the outside when our kids go to the bathroom. It’s disgusting. As I was leaving, I picked up my backpack and literally 20 flew out. Already so frustrated from my students who were basically creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes with all the water they poured on the floors, I can’t even begin to tell you how much stress that added onto my shoulders. Ugh! Tomorrow I will make sure to bring my spray bottle of Off! to school to try to ward them off. 
     But anyway, this is my very quickly-written rant, so I apologize for any strong or hateful messages I may sound like I’m sending. The truth is I don’t hate my students in any way, I still love teaching, and well, I still hate mosquitoes. Not much has changed since I moved to a different country in those areas, but sometimes I just have one of these days and I need to express my frustration while I’m feeling it the strongest. I hope with all my heart that they’ll behave a bit better this next week and a half or so, but I highly doubt they’ll surprise me. I guess I’ll just have to cross my fingers and wish for the best, but if not, a week can’t be that long, right? 


***Actually, I forgot to add that my students made me feel a bit bad, but also inspired, by this male substitute that was in my classroom when I had to get my work permit. They asked for him to return for a couple of days after I came back. It reminded me that I needed to up my game as a teacher and be more entertaining. 

However, he subbed for me yesterday and my boys were so bad that his yelling at them was heard through all the walls and down the hallway. Two of my teacher friends actually entered the classroom and offered to pull some of my students out because my sub was livid at them for running and being out of their seats during class.

My students didn't ask for him to return today; one of my girls told me that they all called him mean. Anyway, I'm glad I'm not the only person going through this with my class because I honestly thought it was my fault the kids were acting like this, but apparently it's not. Still, though, I wish I could have some form of control over them. :( ***

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