Reflections On My Teaching Experiences
I am relatively new to Thailand – I arrived on 25th September 2009, actually to get my teeth done in Bangkok. My brother in Aussie has a girlfriend here, and he has had a number of visits to the dentist 'Bangkok Smile'. So I took the plunge and came over. I was on the BTS one day and saw an electronic banner advert 'The Christian University of Thailand' so I found their website and sent away a few emails to different people, one of whom replied. I've been working here since 16th November – just short of two months.
I'm 42, with a masters in communications and about a year's full-time teaching experience in the Polytechnic sector in NZ (though that was back in 1999). I don't have a CELTA although I have been meaning to do the course. I do have an Intro. Cert. in Adult Teaching, gained as a Polytech tutor in NZ.
The pay is 32,000 baht per month, and they have looked after me, only requiring me to teach 6 hours per week. I do have to clock in 5 or six days a week and work 8 AM – 4:30 PM regardless though. I take a few liberties and spend a lot of time trading the markets during the day (a few hours) but I have given quite a bit of voluntary time to the college of management and accountancy next door, helping with the English for Fun programme and also just simply doing lectures for other ajarns so they can have a bit less to do. They all seem to have about 15 hours per week of teaching and are on about 15,000 baht / month. Here there is no way I can get paid for extras above the 6 hours I teach, but I don't mind giving something back.
I have found the resentment a little difficult to 'process' mentally / emotionally speaking. When someone averted their eyes recently I gave them the finger. I later went and shook his hand, but it would have done a lot of damage to my reputation
by means of word spreading about it I would think. I'm a bit dismissive about it (mainly to take some power back – the "I can always go and teach in Korea") but I am not proud of what I did.
I don't really mind the students – one time at the dorm cafeteria a student in a group at a table deliberately and loudly imitated a chicken bok bok bok sound. I don't know the significance of this metaphor in Thai culture (if there is a link) but obviously it was a mocking.
I don't mind the actual work at all. I teach business English and a course of doing oral presentations. They leave me alone to get on with it. What I find difficult is 'snubbing' by some of the Thai staff, and gruff voice used sometimes. It seems very blatant and completely unprovoked – is it just the sight of me and their perception I am earning heaps of money? My student loan in New Zealand is equivalent to 1.8 million baht. Admittedly I can save 20,500 (about AUD$600) per month as living on campus here is very cheap.
I have witnessed a Filipino teacher here striking a female student twice – on the shoulder and the buttock (briskly – but it was only her fingertips that brushed the girl). The girl burst into tears (at which point the teacher asked, "why do you
cry like a baby?") as she was being berated for not informing the teacher of an exam clash. She had to leave the room to console herself then right there and then come back in and do the exam, after being humiliated in the environment of
the office where all the teachers are.
I felt I should have complained about this but the vice-dean was present at the time (to be fair she was doing something on her computer so may not have seen the physical striking) so I didn't bother taking it further. I would have thought a Thai lady would have rebuked a foreigner for this kind of abuse towards a Thai student.
I work in the International College – there is no laser printer in the office. There is a very old and noisy dot matrix printer right next to my cubicle. You have to feed in one page at a time. The students pay for their own photocopying or material can be uploaded to the e-course website for them to print out.
The college of management and accountancy next door have a laser printer in their office for all to use. I'm pretty disgusted at the following:
– mattress in dorm room not suitable (it would be a good base but not a good mattress) and a request for a new one was declined.
– no hot water in my dorm room.
– not allowed to read my employment contract outside of the HR office.
– not given a copy of my employment contract.
– name mis-spelt on my Immigration letter (that they had to provide to Immigration).
– having to clock in – although everyone up to and including vice-dean level has to. I would think this is more suitable for admin staff as their work stream is continuous. Teachers just do whatever needs to be done anyway so I would have thought clocking
in is not going to make teachers much more productive.
These are some reflections on my experience to date anyway. I appreciated your 'hard-nosed' approach and reflections on teaching.
Thank you so much for your interesting report which simply vindicates my decision to leave the slave trade. Surely someone with a Master's and experience tutoring at a Polytech in Kiwiland could do much better than 32,000 baht a month in Thailand? OK, so maybe it is a lifestyle choice but…