Naughty students, new cleaning techniques and timetable problems.

My students have a habit of coming to my classes at the wrong time; they turn up an hour late, an hour early, a day or even a week late… It can be a little hard to keep track of not just who is supposed to be where, but who is actually there or not.

Today I had one of my best classes so far. I split the group of thirty students into two; one group did writing and comprehension activities from their workbooks individually, and the other group gathered round in one corner of the room and we did a bit of reading out loud together and singing as well as answering a couple of simple questions about the texts we had in front of us. This seemed like a much better way of doing things as because the group was that bit smaller it was easier to hold their attention and get them to be responsive as individuals and not just part of a large mass of children. After half an hour we swapped activities, so everybody got to do everything. I felt that it went quite well, and for the first time in a while rather than feeling frustrated felt pleased and excited.

However, the class that followed did not go so well. By the end I was so frustrated, especially by the boys in the back row who were doing no work whatsoever and were disrupting the rest of the class that I wanted to rip up their jotters. A dictionary I lent one of them was handed back to me with no front cover; the culprit had already been moved seats twice so he was well away from his friends, but his big personality managed to find itself all the way to the back with the others. I gently ‘whacked’ him on the head with it in a way I have seen many Thai teachers do; it made the others laugh and didn’t hurt him whatsoever, it was just a way of showing my frustration. Definitely less offensive than ripping up somebody’s jotter.

By the end of the day I was tired, frustrated and hungry and aware of the long unplanned evening that lay ahead. As a remedy I have learnt that rotis with condensed milk from the stand on the main road work a treat. I cycled along and after getting a few vegetables at the market I stopped by the roti stand. Each of them cost 6 Baht (very little) and I skulked off with them to sit on the bench by the post office as not to be spied by any (or not too many) pupils or staff from the school. I live in a comically parochial place and am often gawked at passers by, I usually don’t mind, but sometimes it is hard to maintain a constant and genuine smile at EVERYONE. The rotis did the job and gave me the energy to cycle home and cook up some dinner. I had planned to have aubergine, okra, and onions stirred in with rice and soy sauce- but the rice cooker was occupied with a meat dish so I opted for a sandwich with this mixed vegetable filling which sated me.

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As usual the mosquitoes found me quite attractive and tempting. The feeling was mutual. Sometimes when I get home in the afternoon I retire to my bed for a little nap, but I found that there were more than 8 mosquitoes that had found their way into my ‘safe zone’ inside the net… as had various large bugs and moths. Due to this I decided that it would be best to vacate the building and found peace at a bench by the front of the school where I was able to sit and read in relative peace. A lizard defecated from above and it landed on my phone, as did some kind of bird- but hey, nothing that couldn’t be wiped off. The book will be finished by tomorrow, and then I won’t have to worry about damaging it before returning it to its true owner. Maybe sitting inside is a solution to keeping it in tact. It is working well, so far.

I have discovered a new method of ‘showering’ or more specifically, washing my hair. Rather than chucking a small bowl of water over my head repeatedly to relatively little effect I fill a large red bucket with water and plunge my whole head and neck into it whilst pinching my nose. It’s not the most pleasant way to do it, I’m sure, but it does the trick and leaves no dry patches. Doing this in the evening is advised because in Thailand, rumour has it that if you go out in the morning with wet hair it means you have had sex the night before. Even though this is clearly not true it is quite nice to avoid the sneers or laughter from students and teachers alike by coming into work with dry and clean hair.

Well done if you made it this far, as you can probably tell, today was not so eventful as normal. Maybe tomorrow will have something new in store! Here is hoping.

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