Falling off the Boat

I’ve fallen off the blogging boat, or blog train, or blogging bandwagon. Whatever you want to call it, I’m very behind in my blogging.  My life in Thailand settled down into a routine: wake up at 6:45, stare at the ceiling not wanting to go to work, get out of bed at 7:00, check for ants, get ready for school, leave for school at 7:30, arrive at school at 7:45, sign in, go to morning assembly at 8:00, get breakfast at 8:30, teach classes where the students don’t pay attention, leave school at 4:00, try to find something to entertain me until bedtime at 10:00 sometimes 9:00. It was boring to write about and I’m sure it would have been boring to read.

Finals weren’t very interesting. The school remembered to put my name on the schedule for proctoring exams. This time the other teacher I was overseeing exams with couldn’t speak any English so he had me sit in the back of the class while he did everything. You could argue it was nice for me not to have to do anything but it was boring.

After finals were done it was time to grade, which was as horrific as it sounds. The grading site they use is used by every teacher in Thailand so it was slow and would sometimes crash. It took a lot of patience to deal with the site. Not only did we have to input the students’ grades but we had to give them a grade for critical thinking and how good of a student they were. My coordinator told me to just give everyone a 3 which is the highest grade. I know for a fact most of these students are not well behaved and did not deserve a 3 but I gave them all 3s anyway because it was easiest.

After we were done inputting all the grades and scores, we had to put the English for communication classes into booklets. The booklets contained every printed grade and score sheet for all the classes, along with other forms. Each teacher was in charge of a grade, I had M6 so I had to make the special cover and statistics chart. Then we gave the booklets to another teacher who looked them over and gave them back to us with corrections. Each time there was a correction, I had to reprint the page with the correction and redo the cover page and statistics page. I redid the cover and statistics pages six times before she said it was okay.

The students who never showed up to class got a special waiting grade so it didn’t show that they failed. When I was doing the statistics page, I noticed I was the only teacher with failing students. One of the other teachers had a few As, a lot of Bs, and some Cs. Another teacher had a few Bs and everyone else had Cs. I wish they had told me these tricks earlier.

While we were working on grades, we had to fill out unofficial failing forms. These forms went to the students’ advisors to say who was failing. The advisors sent these students to the teachers for extra credit so the students wouldn’t fail. For The students who didn’t show up and actually failed the class, we had to fill out official failure forms and give them to the advisors. Then the next week those students had to go see the teacher for extra credit so they wouldn’t fail. If the students still didn’t show up, my coordinator said the advisor would go to their house and bring them to school or they would have to do the extra credit the next semester.

The end of finals was March 4, the end of grading was March 11, and the students who officially failed came in the week after (March 14-18). I was told my last day was March 11 and they put March 31 on my visa so I could travel. Then the said I had to stay until March 18, then March 31, then March 18 but I couldn’t collect my salary until March 31. They were doing a good job of confusing and frustrating me. The other teachers were staying until March 31 to work on their lesson plans for next semester, however I’m not teaching next semester. I had to write a letter requesting permission to leave early, but then they were going to cancel my visa, so I had to write another letter requesting unpaid personal leave. It was overly complicated but everything worked out in the end.

One day during grading we had CAT camp, communicative authentic training camp. Many of the monster classes were there, the English program teachers had to run part of it and it was interesting. Many of the games the teachers had planned didn’t work well with 250 students. After camp we had an English department party. They made me and another teacher give a speech since we are both finished teaching. Fortunately, they gave me a five minute heads up before the speech; they didn’t tell the other teacher anything until they called him up for the speech. The next week there was a whole school party. It started at 5 and those of us who arrived on time started eating at 5:30 because my coordinator was hungry, everyone else started trickling in around 6/6:30. I left at 6:30 to go to Pattaya for some scuba diving. During finals and grading I went diving a lot, it kept me sane. I saw lots of shipwrecks and some turtles and I was happy.

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