By Arabella Freeman, ESL Kindergarten Teacher in Tak
How are your students?
Working in the kindergarten means that my students are between the ages 3-6 years old. This age are super excitable and have a lot of energy for lessons and learning, which is great and makes teaching super fun! Although there is more classroom management needed (plus, some younger children still have issues controlling their bladder!), generally they are a wonderful group of children that I greatly enjoy teaching, because they match the energy you bring into the classroom.
How are your colleagues?
The colleagues at my school are super nice and very friendly – the first week was a blur of meeting new faces and learning people’s names. Many teachers reciprocate when you say ‘good morning’ and Wai them, but you do usually have to be the first one to do this. This is because many staff do not speak good English and are worried about ‘losing face’ by attempting to speak with you. The co-teachers in the Mini English Programme (MEP) are very helpful and supportive, giving us advice on how to improve our lessons and manage the children if needed.
Is it difficult to manage your workload?
The workload for kindergarten is definitely more than I had thought it was going to be, but this is very dependent on the subject you teach. Since I teach ‘Experience & Educational Game’ in English, I need to prepare lesson plans, find videos and songs related to the topic, educational games, raw materials (e.g. flashcards, artwork), worksheets and workbook content for each lesson I teach. This can be difficult when teaching broad subjects like ‘Safety’ or difficult subjects like ‘Sufficiency Economy’ to a bunch of three year olds! And it definitely differs from working in an English nursery – where we solely play and paint with the children for the whole day!
Is classroom management an issue?
Classroom management can be an issue when the children are particularly hyper or very sleepy in the afternoons. I have been taught some strategies to help combat this first-hand by some of my co-teachers, who have been teaching kindergarten for many years. One particularly effective method is the “one clap” strategy, where you get the students to repeat your actions until everyone is sat quietly.
What is an average school day like?
The average school day is 7.30am – 4.30pm (unless you are doing gate duty in the mornings, in which case your day starts at 6.30am). The day mainly consists of lesson preparation for the week ahead, teaching pre-planned lessons on a topic (e.g. Wintertime), and helping out your co-teacher with practical tasks (e.g. helping to prepare lunch, packing away sleeping bags after naptime, etc.).
What is the most enjoyable thing about going to school?
The fun you can have in the lessons, for sure. Because the students are so young, this means that you can’t take anything too seriously and this results in you having a good laugh in the classroom and having a great time with your co-teachers. Lots of high energy, lots of laughter and lots of fun!
What is the least enjoyable thing about going to school?
It can be difficult when you’re having a rough day, dealing with homesickness or just feeling down – particularly on days where you have to teach (for me this is every day!). Bringing high energy, happiness and excitement can be tough when you’re feeling tired or a bit sad that day. The children can pick up on the teacher’s emotions very well, so if you’re not putting in energy and effort then they won’t either. It’s always good to let your co-teacher know when you’re having a difficult day, so they can step in more for the high-energy parts of the lesson/s that day.
If you could change one thing about school, what would it be?
I would ensure that all the classrooms have air-conditioning! This may sound like a small thing, but only the MEP classrooms and offices have AC and this means in the regular classrooms it can get very hot very fast – and we are currently in the Thai Wintertime! I am worried for the future Summertime in Thailand (February-May) when temperatures will soar to 45oC and higher in my city.
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