Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A tough lesson

Throughout my service, teaching at the schools has been one of my favorite things to do.  The kids are excited, want to learn and it's rewarding for me to see positive outcomes.  As much as I love it, sometimes it's difficult as I'm teaching in a language that is not my native language and to say that discipline styles in Thailand are different is an understatement.  It's more accurate to say they don't exist here, so when I discipline (again in Thai), it can be very challenging.  I believe if a Thai teacher were in the room with me to help manage the classroom it'd be easier, but rather than working with me, they leave as soon as I get started as that gives them some time off.  So, I'm at it alone.

Typically, I can handle my own and we always end up reaching the ultimate goal of learning and having fun, but today I struggled with a particularly difficult class.  I was constantly disciplining, the students were hardly listening and talking throughout.  I attempted to tell 4 boys to leave, but they were in utter shock and we ended up having a staring contest for about 1 minute.  I cut the lesson short and told them it was because they had behaved poorly and I was not going to teach that way.  I told the students that there would also be no prizes today, as I use those for positive reinforcement, and well, there was nothing positive about any of this.  So, when I went to my bike, 2 teachers came out to send me off.  They asked me how things went and due to my frustration, I was honest.  I told them I was unable to teach because the kids behaved so poorly.   But I told them I'd continue next week.

Two of my village kids came over my house tonight and they shared something that broke my heart.  They told me that after I left, the teacher used corporal punishment and hit many of the students in the class because of their poor behavior.  I am aware that this is not uncommon in Thailand, especially rural Thailand, and because of this, I always tell the teachers that everything was great for fear of this happening.  I think a part of me leaving the school today, knew that this would happen - I felt bad the minute the honest words fell from my lips.  And tonight my fears were confirmed.

One of the worst parts was that the kids told me that the other students and teachers heard me struggle to discipline them and even heard me try to kick 4 of the students out and they did nothing to help me.  I'm not a teacher at their school, I don't speak Thai as fluently as they do (obviously) and you could hear it in my voice I was struggling, yet none of the teachers came to my assistance.  I was more shocked by this because the teachers are typically very helpful.  I believe my overall disciplinary nature today made them uncomfortable and nervous to come to my aid.  Either way, frustrating, sad and reiterated my gratitude for having received my primary and secondary education in the Long Island suburbs.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to hear about that Erica. I had a similar situation with the kids two weeks ago when I stormed out of the Grade 5 class due to poor behavior. Even though it's hard to shake off this bad feeling, rest assured that you are a good volunteer and despite the results of today, you'll be back again next week for another go <3