I get up at 6am, feed my three lovely Siamese cats, then shower and prepare for school. Despite the volume of traffic on Klong 4 (the road is heavily congested as about 2,000 students make their way to school) it only takes me a few minutes to get to work on my scooter. When I arrive, I meet parents, pupils and fellow teachers all fired up about the school day.
I've been teaching maths at Yamsaard Rangsit School in Pathum Thani, Thailand, for many years. The school offers three programmes to suit the needs of pupils. I teach in the bilingual programme, where the main subjects are English, maths and science. My weekly lesson plan includes foundation maths and classes that use iPads and educational apps.
My first class is with 18 Year 5 pupils (aged 10-11); I meet them once or twice a day. As soon as I walk in, Beng-Beng tells me about a game he has discovered on his iPad. "Teacher, this is the best game ever," he says. This makes me laugh because he says the same thing about every new game he finds. The whole class greets me with "Good morning, teacher" and the wai, when they put their hands together as a sign of respect.
Every day I remind the pupils to clear their desks, because children pay more attention when their hands are empty. Sometimes I have to abandon my lessons on fractions and decimals to deal with petty quarrels or misbehaviour. I believe that a negative attitude in class stops the children being productive. But a smile, kind words and an accepting outlook go a long way towards helping them. When they leave the classroom, the pupils wai once more and one of them helps me to carry the books back to the common room.
Next is my Year 4 class of 24 pupils. This group is full of strong characters: at times they can be a handful, but mostly I have a wonderful time with them. We're busy with hands-on activities, collaborative projects and educational games. I remind them why mastery of basic multiplication and division is essential to progress.
My third lesson is with 12 Year 6 pupils. This class is a bridge from primary to secondary, so I encourage higher expectations and self-reliance. The first big change to the children's schedule is extra classes to prepare for secondary entrance exams. When we do word problems, I remind them about underlining key words and double-checking the answers. Sometimes I convert these tasks into games; one of the pupils always insists on getting 5 baht (10p) for every correct answer.
If I'm not teaching, I'm coaching, marking or preparing the next day's lessons. Marking can be tedious, but I'm working hard to make this year a wonderful opportunity for my pupils to grow and for me to learn more as a teacher. At 4.30pm my day is done and I head home along the congested road.
On reflection, although every one of my days has the same structure, they are in fact totally different. This is what I love about my job.
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