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With under a week of real teaching under my belt I'm already being farmed out to teach at different schools.  Actually, Kajonkietsuksa's original campus — Kajonkietpattana — was in desparate need of an English teacher to fill in from Monday to Thursday this week since the regular instructor had to go to Bangkok unexpectedly.  Since I've been "co-teaching" with Timmy it was natural that one of us would be the substitute and I was given the opporunity; they asked me on Friday if I could do this.

All weekend long I dreaded going to work at the other school.  Afterall, I'm still a complete "newbie" and still trying to figure out the routines at Kajonkietsuksa.  I needn't have worried as today was a piece of cake.  I do have to go to my "home school" in order to clock-in each morning and return in the afternoons to time out but that's the only real annoyance — since we live so close to Villa 5 we don't have to drive too far out of the way.

I do have to be at Kajonkietpattana each morning before 10am but the first English class isn't until one in the afternoon.  Upon arrival this morning, I was given a stack of lesson plans to choose from each following a different theme.  I chose "water" and then spent an hour expanding on the given outline — I began with a brainstormer of different uses for water (drinking, bathing, swimming, etc.) and added vocabulary for different forms (liquid, frozen, hot, cold, etc.) before throwing in a word search using most of the vocabulary.  Anyway, the remainder of the downtime before my first class was spent checking email in the school's computer room and perusing various books looking for games and other activities I could do.

I also spent some time talking to the other teachers in the English Program office — there are four Filipina ladies and one gentleman from England.  Teacher Jeff has lived in Thailand for nine years now and has taught at Kajonkietpattana for the last three.  He told me how laid-back the school was compared to Kajonkietsuksa and the ladies kept asking if I was going to stay there for next term rather than going back to Villa 5.

I'm not even sure of the level of the class I taught.  Judging by percieved ages I'd say the kids were about as old as my P3's at Kajonkietsuksa but I do have a difficult time telling ages of Thai children.  The big difference came in the level of their English comprehension.  Where my home school is bilingual and the kids receive four or five lessons in English daily and only one of Thai, the kids at this school only have two English classes each day.  I'd planned to use the first 50-minute period talking about the different uses for water and then given them the wordsearch during the second lesson.  But I lost them with "drinking"; although I recovered a bit by mentioning the Thai word for "swimming" (wai nam) I decided to just hand out the wordsearch.  This brought forth a big cheer from the students (all 30 of them — another difference as I only have eleven in my class at Kajonkietsuksa when they all show up); I'd been coached that they really love the wordsearch sheets.

This kept them busy for the remainder of the period although the second half brought forth plenty of cries of "teacher" as they begged for help on the few really elusive words.  Luckily, I had an answer key that help enormously.  They went on a break at 2:00 and I searched through my backpack looking for an idea for the last period.  I found a wordsearch I'd printed out at Kajonkietsuksa and even though the subject matter was aliens and outer space I decided to use it.  Unfortunately, I didn't have an answer key and couldn't find all the words before the kids returned from their break — this was a really difficult puzzle as many of the words were backwards and upside-down.  But it did keep most of the kids occupied until about fifteen minutes before the end of the period (it was a major victory once I'd found the last few words myself).  I did let the noise-level get a bit loud at the end as I helped the few stragglers and allowed the others to play at the back of the room.  Right before everybody ran out of the classroom, I did get them seated and they yelled a "Thank you, teacher.  Have a nice day" in chorus (the first period began with "Good afternoon, teacher.  How are you today?" to which I said, "I am find.  How are you?" and they all responded in unison, "I am fine, teacher.").

Even though I relied on the wordsearch puzzles, I think my first day at Kajonkietpattana went very well.  It was much easier than I'd thought it would be and the "crowd control" was much easier than at Kajonkietsuksa (poorer parents equals better behaved kids, perhaps?).  Also, my four days as substitute is really just two days of work — the kids are going on a field trip Wednesday and then they have a end-of-summer-course party on Thursday.  I'm sure Timmy and the others will be jealous once I report back to them...