Thailand University Teacher Extraordinaire

The trials and tribulations of a young English teacher

Weary on a Wednesday

on Wed,Feb,2011

This semester, my busiest day of the week by far is Wednesday. My first class is basic writing for Economics, which begins bright and early at 8.30am. After two previous days with early starts, getting to work in time for breakfast before this class is impossible. I refuse to drag myself out of bed before 6.30am, so I have to settle for a bottle of water and a handful of biscuits from 7/11 before class begins.

After class is over, I then have half an hour to dump my books in my office, pick up handouts for the next class, and then hike to the other end of campus to teach my Art students. Today was a landmark day as we didn’t get through all the materials for one unit in one session. My Art students aren’t the most enthusiastic learners, so I have to use a lot of energy in this class to get them moving.

Next is an hour off from teaching for lunch. This usually involves another long hike across campus to scoff down a meal as quickly as possible in a huge canteen filled with hundreds of students, before retreating to my office for 40 minutes. Most of this time is spent answering emails, going over my lesson plan for my afternoon class and harassing/being harassed by teachers who teach the same courses I teach.

My final class of the day resembles something like a marathon. I have to teach international business students grammar for 3 hours. Students in this class are a joy to teach. None of them are afraid to ask for help, which makes a pleasant change from most other faculties. They’re an energetic and enthusiastic bunch, and hours seem to pass in an instant. So far this semester, I’ve walked away from this class exhausted but happy.

This class is followed by another hasty retreat to my office, where I usually have about 50 minutes to get things done before the building closes at 5pm. Much of this time is spent reading news online or catching up on the latest gossip with Ajarn Aey. She’s a Thai widow in her mid 40s who knows everything interesting about the majority of teachers working in my faculty. Today I spent almost the whole 50 minutes working on a question for next week’s international program Science exam. Teaching an international course for 3 hours a week effectively doubles a teacher’s monthly salary, so much more time and energy is required when putting together materials, preparing lessons, and writing exam questions compared with Thai program courses.

As the warning bell is sounded to announce that the building is closing and that everyone should quickly leave so security can go home, I stumble away from campus to the underground train station to be assaulted by noisy adverts for the half an hour it takes to get back to my neighbourhood. I walk the short distance to my apartment, happy that another hectic Wednesday is behind me.

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