It’s 7:25am and I’m sitting in my classroom on the first day of school. While choking down my second cup of instant coffee/dark brown battery acid and something occurs to me: I hadn’t really thought the act of actually teaching children. On this trip I planned travels and adventures and hiking and eating delicious foods and visiting thousand year old temples but not actually teaching students 5 days a week for the next 10 months. Come on, Dan.
Suddenly all I can think about is how much I miss Dunkin Donuts coffee. I can almost feel the 20oz cup in my hand, like an amputee who sometimes gets an itch on his missing leg…
So instead of English, about which I know a lot, I’ll be teaching Science (about which I know very little) to 1st through 3rd graders. So far, it’s not too bad. I get to do fun stuff with the kids like play with magnets, put celery stalks in dishes of water with food-coloring, and talk about dinosaurs for hours at a time. Also searching youtube for Bill Nye the Science Guy and Magic School Bus videos is an important part of my job.
There’s one small problem though. And by 1 problem, I mean 43.
First Graders. If you were to list the most horrible, atrocious, and detestable groups of people on the planet in order starting with the worst, it would go as follows:
1. SS soldiers of Nazi Germany
2. Ku Klux Klansmen
3. The children in my 2 first grade classes
(fun fact: Microsoft Word 2011 edition for Mac has the word ‘Klansmen’ in its dictionary, but not ‘Juggalos’- see, you can learn something important from this blog too.)
All I can say is, if the urge to strangle 22 six-year-old children has ever struck you, don’t feel bad – you’re not alone.
But my principal instructed us to “avoid hitting” the students. Like, if possible, try not to do it…
I don’t currently have any photos of the little guys because I’m on serious crowd control the whole time. If I stopped to take a picture, the kids would throw a coup of the classroom and I’d be overthrown. But below you’ll see some great picture of my other classes listening intently and following instructions.
Compared to the first grade classes, all the other students are basically saints. They generally do as they are told and for some reason, when I start counting, they just shut their evil little mouths. Almost instantly. I don’t even understand. Like something bad will actually happen if I get to 5. Honestly, I don’t even know what I would do.
There is a Thai teacher in every classroom and the kids are really scared of them. They’ve got this tone down and even the little kids do what they say immediately. There’s a flag ceremony every morning and all the kids are lined up according to height exactly 1 arm’s length apart and singing the national anthem without even being prompted.
They just know that something bad will happen if they piss off the Thai teacher. I don’t like to snitch, but I had to rat out one first grader to his Thai teacher for being absolutely horrible in my class. He was BEGGING me not to but he had derailed my whole class (screaming, throwing clay, hitting kids/me with a ruler, turning the lights on and off, messing with the projector, etc.) so I had to do it. Hopefully she bodyslammed him or something. I also made 2 kids cry by telling them I would call their parents. They’re too young and naive to realize that I don’t speak Thai and their moms probably don’t speak English. Hopefully they won’t catch on to that one.
One of my favorite parts is that kids in Thailand all have a legal first and last name, then they have a nickname that is semi-official. This nickname is how the school recognizes them. So it’s how I refer to them. Some of my favorites are as follows:
- Champoo (pronounced like shampoo)
- North (sorry Kanye, but this kid is 6 years old)
When I have to yell at them, I have trouble not laughing to myself.
“MEOW-MEOW! GET BACK IN YOUR SEAT!”
“PANCAKE, PUT THAT AWAY OR IT’S MINE”
Also I like to think that Fluke was a “surprise” to his parents. That would bee too perfect, I guess.
My other favorite thing is that the kids are so little that if one is making noise while my back is turned, and I turn around with a mad face to see who is making the noise, there’s usually someone who will rat out the culprit. Part of me wants to say to them that if they keep doing that someone is going to kick their ass, but I’ll just let nature take it’s course. One day little mister perfect will narc out the wrong kid and he’ll put him on his on ass.
Overall, I really like the school. The little kids are assholes but otherwise it’s pretty great. The school day is long. I’m there from around 7:15 till 5 most days, but I only have students for 18 hours a week. I get all my lesson planning done at school so once I leave, I’m basically done. They put me in charge of the chess club so I get to embarrass 11 year olds once a week with my world class chess skills.
Maybe it’s just the growing pains of a new semester and new staff but the school seems fairly disorganized but they give us free lunch and snacks and milk so it’s not so bad. Also, I like to think that I thrive in situations with this little accountability so I’ll mark it down as a win.