So Now You’re a Teacher or Are You the Student?
What Do You Teach?
It’s easy to look like a teacher. You wear the ensemble, the black shoes, do your hair in a professional arrangement, pull your shoulders back, teeth displayed in a friendly manner, and voila, the students address you with the coveted title of “Teacher.” And what do you teach, Teacher? The answer, my friend, is the best part.
Teaching in Thailand has many benefits, but my favorite benefits are the students. Their entire society is based around balance; the pendulum swings between work and play each and every day. The student body is accustomed to having a lot of days off, camp days, assemblies, and meditation time. These activities take place during school hours and will often impede class time. This does not minimize the strictness of the teachers or the importance of curriculum, it’s all there to enhance each student’s mind, body and soul.
The students and faculty want to like foreign teachers, they want to be friends and show them their homes, favorite places and make them special foods. Likewise, the people of Thailand want to glean information from the foreign teacher’s world. Teaching as a foreigner is a chance for two worlds to collide and everyone to become all the richer for it.
Uniqueness of Teaching in Thailand
In this way, Thailand is particularly unique because the students are accustomed to fun. I have taught programs with students from other countries and they are much more difficult to teach in some ways. Many students abroad are afraid to guess at answers because they are punished for inaccurate guesses, or aren’t allowed to make eye contact with the teacher. Some students aren’t even allowed to interact with the opposite sex, or that isn’t a normal part of their lifestyle. All of these variations can have their pros and cons, but one particular con is that these students don’t participate. That is not the case with Thai students.
The youth of Thailand love to be silly, they love to shout and act in charades. They love to laugh at you, each other, themselves. Everything is a big game, joke, comical moment waiting to happen in Thailand, for children and adults. They have a lot of energy and while that can be challenging as well, if you can harness that energy, they will do anything you want. They are slaves to rejoicing.
Teaching Isn’t Just in Books
This is a great aspect of life for new teachers because your job is not to teach perfect grammar every day, or have lesson plans that are meticulously dissected. You are not in Thailand to create little robots that speak perfect English at the end of your term. Your job is help the children of Thailand grow, learn and enjoy doing it.
Your personal fulfillment is a big part of this lesson. You too will learn how to harness abounding energy, and access your most silly side. You will live like a ten-year-old again, and it will drain you, like it does them, but you will have more fun than ever before. Pretty soon, you will be looking to your students for inspiration on lessons, both in and outside of the classroom. You will find yourself seeking celebration and avoiding activities void of pure happiness.
In an alternate universe where people sing without fear of what their voice sounds like, and people dance like no one is watching and those around you cheer no matter how ridiculous you look, Thailand and its people have saved a tiny spot in the world in which everybody belongs.
So, what do you teach, Teacher? You teach students; and you all have a lot to learn.