Morning Assembly and Your Shine
The morning assembly is part of the school’s culture and you get to be a part of it if you are teaching English at a public school in Thailand. It is a morning gathering of all the students, teachers, and other faculty members that occurs daily. It is a tradition you grow accustomed to and get to embrace. It will inform you of anything important that will be coming up but can also add a smile to our face depending on the activities presented. The information they provide can be very useful because it may affect your classes and/or schedule modifications.
Morning assembly starts at 8 a.m. when all the students are already lined up by class and mathoym. My school consists of over 3,300 kids ranging from 11-18 years old (mathoyms 1-6) so, the students usually arrive around 7:50 a.m. to get in place. After they are all in place, the front student usually takes attendance. This may occur before or after the Thai National Anthem. The Thai National Anthem is a highly-respected tradition as part of the culture and is sung daily.
When they start singing this, no matter where you are, you stop walking and talking and place your hands to your sides until it is finished. Following this ritual, there will be a Buddhist chant done by either a student or teacher. During this time, you put your hands in a prayer stance and bow your head after each chant is completed. Follow the kids lead if you are unsure what to do and I know some of you may not be Buddhist, but most Thais are and it is a significant part of their belief system so, out of respect, I would encourage you to entertain it and follow along.
After the Anthem and Chant
After the Buddhist chant is completed, there is usually a teacher or student that will discuss what has been going on or what will occur. This part can include any upcoming activities, changes to the schedules, new faculty, and award ceremonies. The morning activities can be entertaining and really puta smile on your face, along with the kids. As part of this daily routine, the English teachers get to present on random subjects once a week.
At my school, this happens to be Tuesday and is known as Tuesday Talk. During Tuesday Talk, we perform a skit and encourage students to participate by either asking for volunteers to help us or by repeating some of the English words in the skit and demonstrating their meaning. We have also danced and sung which was funny to see but the students loved it by laughing and then following our lead. Thai students love to sing and dance so if you can incorporate this into your lessons, then you should. I understand that not everyone enjoys speaking in front of a larger crowd but, this is all a part of the wonderful package that Thailand offers and honestly after you do it a few times, you get accustomed to it just like teaching.
Some great examples of fun morning assembly talks include talking about the Olympics and asking the students about their favorite sports, singing You are my Sunshine and having them sing it with the motions too, teaching manners by saying please, thank you, sorry, excuse me, or I forgive you, and holiday festivities by singing Jingle Bells or showing the love that is shown on Valentine’s Day by demonstrating card giving or the love of a friendship.
These morning English talks were successful in the way of getting the students to talk during the assembly and in the way of them remembering it and using it later on when they see you. Generally, the morning assembly and Tuesday Talk is a tradition that engages the students and teachers to come and start the day together and to let us all know of any important events that partake. It is moving to see the anthem sung and interesting to see the surprises that arise with each morning that I attend the assembly.