I have officially made it through my first week as a first grade teacher in Thailand!
Not a whole lot has changed from my first day... there are still many challenges that are mainly related with the language barrier. It is difficult to keep the attention of the children because if they don't have a good grasp on the words that I'm speaking, it's easy for them to tune me out all together. My other challenge is trying to teach students that are at all ends of the spectrum in regards to their learning levels. I have students that are eager to learn and are leaps and bounds over the lessons that I have planned for them (not to mention the one American missionary kid in my class who gets bored with learning a language he already knows), while there are others that don't know a single word of English who i have to physically put a pencil in their hand and help them to write one letter of the alphabet. Trying to appropriately challenge all of my students is keeping me on my toes.
Here is an interesting thing that I have learned about Thai school systems. Grades and assessments are highly stressed, and I will even need to give homework and tests to my 1st graders. Yet at the same time, failure is such a great shame. So basically, even if my kids receive all F's on their tests and assignments, they will all go on to the 2nd grade next year. Many of the kids are not ready for the 1st grade, but nonetheless they are here, and so I have my work cut out for me.
Below are some pictures of my classroom!
My kids are cute all right. A handful, but cute. :-)
When I'm not teaching, and when I'm not preparing lesson plans (which doesn't leave a whole lot of time), I have been finding new ways to enjoy myself. I can't just hop into my little Honda that i have in the states, and go out driving, but i can always hail a taxi and hope that the driver understands English or my very broken Thai. One of the highlights of my week honestly was going to church.
Last night (Saturday night) I attended a church that i had not been to yet. It's called New Song, and after a long taxi ride with 5 passengers plus the driver piled into one little car, while stuck in traffic, we finally got out on the side of the road and decided to walk the rest of the way. It was raining, but i had my umbrella, so all was well. We walked all through the different allies of Bangkok, following our fearless leader, Nookie, a high school student from Kansas who is half Thai and can speak the language!
We finally came to a flight of very steep stairs nestled in between a row of shops that had closed for the day. At the top of the stairs was such a beautiful sight. There was a room filled mostly with people my age, American and Thai, singing praises to God. I stood there in awe... There, I could hear familiar songs of praise and worship to my Father, sung in both English and in Thai. I was truly beautiful. The fellowship and encouragement with other believers was exactly what i have been needing, and i cannot begin to express the joy i had in being able to sing to my God with other believers, in many different languages.
After church we were hungry... So we went to McDonald's! Haha, yeah, we did. And in Thailand, Ronald McDonald knows how to properly Wai (a polite greeting, involving placing your hands together and bowing slightly. Demonstrated below).
And of course I have to mention... I was able to enjoy one of my most favorite things that I have been wanting ever since the last time I was in Thailand. Do you know how at McDonald's in the States, you can get little apple pies? In Thailand, you can get Pineapple pies! And they're sooooo good.