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January 2005
Its been a few weeks since the last entry but here are some of the things I have done.
Muay Thai

For the first time ever, I ended up going to a real Muay Thai evening last week. Ah well its only taken about 8 years of holidays and living here ( I am not counting the pretend ones in the beer bars or gogos you sometimes see ), I am talking about the great Mecca of Muay Thai – Lumphini Park.

Got to tell you though, I was quite disappointed. I don’t know if it was just some romantic notion or what, but I had always thought of the stadium being pretty big – I am not talking about football big but as big as say the indoor arena next to the national stadium BTS station. Err, no it wasn’t.

Walking along Rama 4 from the beer garden ( which this year is a measly Asahi area compared to last years Asahi, Carlsberg, Singha…. collection ) you can’t actually see the stadium at all. You could, apart from the people hanging around at the front to pull the tourists in, miss it altogether.

So up to the gates and you see the windows marked as FOREIGNER - 500B, 800B, 1200B and then whoops, what’s this to the left in Thai script? Oh dear, it wouldn’t be the lets put the Thai prices in Thai to stop foreigners getting the cheap seats ploy would it?

Yes, it is. Not only are the tickets a different color but you also enter from a different direction and then your ticket is checked before you go in and ( at least in the “foreign” section ) you have someone showing you to what is laughingly called your seat. And also, guess what, they don’t have any of the 500B seats.

I use the term in the loosest possible sense of the word as it is basically wooding shelving or to the Brits terracing. I was in the UK at the time of the Bradford City football disaster. Basically, the cause of this fire was accumulated combustible rubbish ( paper, wood etc ) accumulating under the terracing and looking under the wooden seating, there was indeed a fire waiting to explode. I doubt any human has been under there for decades, I say human as I thought I saw a few rats and definitely a few cats on the lookout for rodents or other food scraps.

It is also surprisingly claustrophobic with the corrugated roof only about 10 feet above you and another surprise, the view is not that terrific considering you are only 20 yards or so away from the ring. The problem is the number of supporting columns, no matter where you sit, there seems to be at least one to block your view.

As well as the different colors of tickets, there is also a lot of fencing separating all the different classes of tickets. You had the thai section, the farang section, the VIP section – obviously all sponsors or high ups in the Muay Thai with their shirts and ties and the ringside section. In some ways, this was the funniest of all. It was quiet obvious early on that this is almost all tour groups. You saw them wandering in with their guide and most tellingly of all, their little sticker on the shirt to keep them in the herd and not get lost.

Well, ok to the fights themselves. They had 10 fights on the card and it was a mix of Muay Thai and what they called International Boxing - in other words normal boxing. The fights themselves were not of the highest quality but all the same where still pretty damm good, even the younger kids who started the card off. They looked about 14 or so but would probably still be able to beat the crap out of 3 falang. The thais themselves took a little while to warm up and a lot don’t arrive until about a third of the way through as the quality rises the later the start. But once they were up for it, they were up for it. The crowd was probably about 500 or so and their was space for, I guess, about 3000 with people standing. Got to admit though, I would not like to be there if it was full and during a hot day / evening with that corrugated roof.

So, was it worth it? A qualified yes, it rankles that I had to pay as much as I did and get the bare wood to sit on. But I don’t think I will do it again for a long time and it was a great experience to see them live.

January 23

Coming home on Friday night after a night out with folks from one of the teching webboards, the taxi took its normal route home. The last part is driving past a mosque. As well as the normal loudspeaker at the mosque itself, they have several relay speakers with one about 50 yards from my window.

Its really only once in a while that the sound of the prayer annoys me and then its the ones in the day time. At night, I never hear them. Walking past the mosque on my way to somewhere they seem an amicable bunch and I have nodded heads with various people in there a few times.

Through the time I have spent here, I have seen a few sights that made me do a double take and Friday night / Saturday morning was one of them. Normally there are one or two lights on through the night in the mosque for whoever does the night shift there. But this time, it was almost fully lit up. Being a nosy so and so, I had a right good look inside and did a real double take and then a belly burst of laughter. After a moment of recovering his wits from the scary farang, the taxi driver had a look and did the same. ( I have to point out that the road is narrow and there are speed bumps outside the mosque, so we were maybe doing 2 mph at that point )

Inside lying on the normally clean blue tiled floors were four oxen with various piles of hay and the inevitable output. I had just the right amount of blood in my alcohol stream to see it properly and see it for the rare - and lets face it, amusing - sight it was.

When I was walking past about 11am the same morning, a major clean up operation was in full flow with water everywhere cleaning up after the beasts.

Of course, watching the news later, I discovered that the oxen would have been part of the new year celebrations that the Haj is central to. So it didnt have the absurd surreal quality it did a few hours earlier. I dont know if they sacrificed the animals or not but they were there and then they werent. So they could have been.

Feb 3


Oh dear, 4 days of exams done. What is the boy zz doing zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Saying that stupid question again and again is doing my head in. Some of the kids have caught on and are talking about the test. IN a way I am actually quite pleased as it does show at least some level of intelligence is out there :)? I had one kid come out, sit down where I am doing the test and said "Beach". Good answer and one of the first I ask. But I hadn't asked him a question yet and the flashcard was upside down so he could only see the white backing!!!

Other beauties today. A kid that said yes or no to everything. I mean everything.

"what is your name?"
"what is your name?"
"how are you?"
"how are you?"
etc etc etc

oh dear. And of course you had the ones who went
"where are they?"
The mother, father, and two children are at the beach.
"what is he doing?"
he is sleeping on a towel on the beach
"what is he doing?"
He is swimming and looking at the shark coming towards him

Oh to have some sort of graded class. I would love to have a class of roughly the same level. It would be so much easier to teach. You would know exactly what the expectations would b. You could plan so many more interesting activities and challenges for the kids or basically go "WHAT IS YOUR NAME?" "MY NAME IS________" and give them colouring in to do.

But of course that wont happen. It would be to much against the whole notion of not being noticed, not sticking your neck out, not being different from the rest. Screw the education just be the same as everyone else.

As marking comes up, I am so tempted to grade accordign to how much I like the kid. But I don't. I do give them a fair crack. Maybe on half points, if the kid is a trier I will give a bit more leeway but I don't turn a wrong answer into a right one. I will just get them on the report card sections for attitude, behaviour and other comments.

Seeing as how this is the last time we see the kids ( maybe ) a few of us are being really tempted to give a real report rather than a "positive" one. I would love to see the faces of the parents and school when we write something like " Although Somchai can produce high quality work, this only happens when he can shut up for more than 30 seconds at a time, isn't running around annoying the teacher or other students or isn't doing something he thinks is more important like cutting his rubber in half with his ruler. He will make a fine Minister for Education someday."

Our jobs have been advertised in the papers, so if we want to work at this school again, we need to reapply for them. Could be interesting. Anyone who is staying on will be working in the Thai staffrooms next year. Our staffroom is going to be renovated before the start of next term for the EP program teachers who will then take it over. They have in fact started already by demolishing the little store room we had across the way.

The discussion is now when do we need to leave the staffroom and how long are we going to be held to our contract. Depending on what version you hear, the school want us out of the staffroom by Feb 18 ( the last day we see the kids ) or the following week. The agency want us to move to the school library to work on report cards and do marking. Hmmm Is it secure, does it have a phocoto copier to help us copy our cvs and stuff as we are looking for new jobs - note to self, look at ajarn tomorrow - does it have a computer or computers to share amongst 20 teachers, does it have a secure area to store the report cards and papers etc etc

If the agency has their way, they will hold us til the last possible moment. I dare say the school couldn't be arsed one way or another as long as the report cards were done. So anything from March 4th to March 31st could be the release date. And oh yes, the agency is still not officially offering anyone any work for next year. BWAAHHAHAAAHHAAA!!!!!

It has offered work and some have accepted it. But not officially. Enough to make you sick.

Feb 4

Well, the first week has gone by.

Yesterday, 4 days into it, the FUD tells us that the speaking tests and listening tests are to be out of 10 marks, except the P3 which are 15. Oh goody and what happens if you have already done those tests? Ah well, never mind.

The writing test for P2 is so easy they are finishing it in about 3 minutes. No I am not joking. 3 sections where the have to put a tick or a cross into a box in part 1 a single word, in part 2 rearrange a body part name, so a single word and then in part 3 write a single word - name the object. 15 questions.

The writing test for P3 is 35 questions long. The quickest I have had someone do it is 23 minutes.

The first section they have to match a picture and a word to a definition sentence. Now, you would think that because the pictures and sentences are on different pages that they would be facing each other. Logical yes? Umm, too logical. The pages are on opposite sides on one sheet of paper.

The second section is a picture and then a series of questions about the picture. Now, you would think that because the pictures and questions are on different pages that they would be facing each other. Logical yes? Umm, too logical. The pages are on opposite sides on one sheet of paper.

And so the stupidity continues.

The next section gives a sentence and then 3 possible replies. They have to pick the most appropriate one.

The last section is a series of paragraphs and they have to answer questions by reading the paragraphs. Nothing in the book we use really prepares them for this, so most haven't a clue.

As someone else said to me when I asked the question why did they ( our management ) do this, why didn't they think? Thinking is not required here.

Now, you could say that they don't know how to do this as I haven't prepared them through the semester. A fair point to a certain extent but then since we the teachers, don't actually see the tests until about a week before the tests start and the exam we do is from a different syllabus, then I don't think we can really be held accountable.

Feb 8

Hey ho and the week progresses.

Its all much of a muchness which the kids trying to cheat - badly. You would think they would at least make an effort to try and hide the fact. Nah, that would mean having some sort of imagination and intelligence. Its just been the usual asking each other what does this mean, what did he say ( in the listening test ), looking at each others papers by blatently looking.

Today was one of the worst, I had one kid who actually held his paper up in front of his head to try and hide the fact that he was turning round to ask someone what the answer was. So, little clues on how not to get caught -
no 1, dont hold up bright white paper at head level. It shows up nicely in peripheral vision.
no 2, if you need to copy dont copy from the guy behind you. Turning your body kind of gives it away
no 3, dont try and stand up and walk over to another desk to borrow a pencil. Especially when I can see your pencil case full of them on your desk. DOH!
no 4, dont sit next to the dumbest kid in class and copy from him. A monkey has got more chance of writing the correct answer.
no 5, when you ask someone what the answer is, try to whisper not speak normally. Not all teachers are deaf.
no 6, at least try and see where the teacher is. Trying to copy when I am right behind you looking to see how you are doing is not a good time.

The job hunt continues with a couple of applications sent away today and a couple of rejections back, Hey ho.

Feb 15

It seems like the scores in the P3 reading and writing are considerably lower than they were last semester. No wonder. It is really a totally new type of exam they got from any others we have given them. I think the average mark will come in about 50-55% which is shocking when you think about it. But it all comes back to the same thing, that if they actually do some work themselves in the class instead of me having to pull them reluctantly in the direction of work, they would be finding things a lot easier.

Now onto another end of term possible horror story. As you know the agency lost the contract with the school as of March 31. Come the beginning of March, the school will be closed. No thai staff, no janitors, nothing and next week we have to leave our staffroom for refurbishment. The agency has no new school positions to offer anyone and only a couple were approached ( quietly ) for corporate full time teaching - and that was only if they were already doing it. So basically the situation is this. Out of 20 teachers here and another 5 at the senior branch of the school, about 4 are staying with the agency in an admin or corporate capacity. No one has been given a job in another school because the agency hasn't got any new contracts.

The ones they now do have are very small, around 5 teachers in, maybe 4 schools. There is a nasty rumour now going around that when the semester ends here in a couple of weeks and all the report cards have been marked Etcetera that instead of - as has been done before - giving a bonus of a couple of weeks holidays and letting people go early, they are instead wanting to make people come into the main office to do "make work". They are apparently thinking that teachers can do this or can leave early but with NO PAY.

So lets clarify

This year. With no job to look forward to, no schools to prepare material for, they want 20 teachers to continue to report for work in the main office after finishing marking and report cards and cut out stuff from newspapers and prepare material for who knows or walk away early without pay.

Last year. With teachers coming back or going back home, we finished the marking, writing report cards and then sat around doing nothing for 3 weeks in our staffroom and they let us away a couple of weeks early.

If this is true and at the moment I don't know if it is for certain, it will be a total slap in the face for everyone who has worked here. The contract is ending so why not end it on a good note with a sense of "you have worked here for 2 or 3 years so thanks and goodbye". THE AGENCY HAS ALREADY BEEN PAID FOR THIS PERIOD. So, this is not a case of them losing out, it will be a case of them been penny pinching bastards. But, I will now hold my ire and fire until I know for certain. A thread on ajarn.com could be soon arriving.

There was supposed to be a meeting today to announce something - probably the end date and the end of term arrangements but it was cancelled. Supposedly because the school hasn't told the agency when it will cancel the work permits. This is the most worrying for me because it goes with the Visas. I want to go home in March if I get away early but I don't want to come back from holiday to find out that I have entered the country on a cancelled Visa.

Feb 18

Last day was spent just playing games with the kids and some of them were alright, some of them were just out of control and didn’t want to listen even to instructions on how to play. Idiots. They knew they would be getting something special as I told them not to bring books., immediately of course they started to go apeshit. As soon as they came into the room they moved all the chairs to in front of the tv. Why they thought they would be getting a video is beyond me as they have never got one all semester and they only had one or two lessons last semester.

It does look as though that will be the last time I ever see those kids as it appears that I am not going to get an interview with the school. Some who have applied have got interviews but I haven’t received a reply. Shame in a way but possibly it's good overall, stops the rut of the same old same old, new school environment etc etc

Drum roll please drummmmmmmmm tksssh!

We had the meeting to confirm what was happening for the rest of the semester and it was, in reality, quite boring with no major riots, arguments, storming of the gates, lynchings etc.

Whether it was deliberate or not it seems to have been that the rumours that were coming out last week were wide of the mark. There is no unpaid leave, no option to get away early etc. But the downside is that for the next two weeks we are going to have work full time in a couple of rooms off the school library. Hmmm. The rooms themselves are nice as meeting rooms but totally unsuitable for 20 teachers for two solid weeks. What are we doing during this time? Doing marking and writing report cards. OK. That takes care of 3 days if it's approached in even a slow but steady manner.

After that we have to work in the main offices preparing “Teaching Portfolios”. These are going to be used for the schools who have no resources or have very few. Riiiiight. Are these new schools? Exisiting schools? If they are existing schools surely the teachers there have created prepared some stuff. Also they know far better than we what year level and language level the kids are, what the class size is, what the school likes the teachers to do etc etc etc. Without knowing that, we could be preparing material that will never be used. In fact odds are, that is exactly what will happen. The work will go into a binder somewhere and never be looked at or used.

Basically the idea is to take the best ideas that we used during the year and write instructions on how to do the exercise. Now the question is, what was wrong with the material that we have been preparing, creating and using and storing in various binders during the school year? Apparently the answer is that they are not specific enough. Huh? They want more specific and detailed portfolios not just a scatter gun approach and the FUD is going to set up teams to create these. Wow, I can hardly wait.

Also because we are going to be in the main office we need to work full time and wear shirts and ties. Shirt and tie? Why? I didn’t wear a shirt and tie when I worked there at weekends. But no biggie I suppose. Full time for two weeks? Why? Again it really would take only a couple of days to do if it's approached in a steady manner. Traditionally the non contact time is reduced hours, something like 9 til 2. Why are they saying full time now? Who knows?

And on March 18 they are going to throw a party for us. A PARTY?!?! It will be interesting to see just how many people turn up as this is the last day of servitude and it will mean freedom – at least as far as turning up goes. They still hold the back pay over us and the end of year completion bonus will get paid at the end of April. So just for the moment, to stop burning bridges I wont name the names yet.

One other thing that came up was the announcement that there could be new schools for us to go to next year and that certain people had already been approached and offered jobs and that in the next couple of weeks more people would be approached. Age old story isn’t it.

The other thing that came up is that the school could and probably will cancel our visas on March 31 which means unless a new school picks us up very soon we need to go through the whole work permit process again and I HAVE to leave the country to get a new non imm B visa. Wonderful, not. Apparently the FUD never thought about what will happen to us. Even the ones who are going to be kept on by the agency!! I suppose I should be shocked but unfortunately I am not, it's just another example of the lack of forethought. It also more importantly shows the effect when people have a 11 month contract. If you have a 12 month contract, the work permit runs to the same date. With an 11 month one you have a gap every year and probably have to do a visa run and scramble around.

Feb 23

Two days into the marking and it's boring already. It's about half and half who has completed the marking and those who haven’t. So far, I have finished all the marking and made a start on the report cards.

Oh boy, are they a laugh. They always are, trying to think of as many different ways of saying

Somchai is not as thick as two short planks as that would give him more credit that he deserves. He possibly has as much common sense and intelligence as the shoe polish I put on my shoes this morning. Knowing Somchai he would actually probably try to eat the shoe polish thinking it was a new type of sweet cake.

My current favourite at the moment is that Somchai has made steady progress through the year. Of course, this hides a multitude of sins. What I mean on some of them is that he has made progress, at the end of the year he was remembering to bring pencils and books to class. Of course, sometimes I mean he did actually make some progress with his English!

As I said last week we had been told to turn up full time this week and next. I suppose predictably the first day there was a quiet revolt and most folk had departed the scene by about 1.30 in the afternoon.

Today was even worse with a mass disappearance by midday. I think it's going to get worse not better somehow. As well as that we have people turning up late. Surprisingly, the latest I noticed was just after 9.30am. But then again, there are a couple of people who didn’t turn up at all over the last couple of days.

As far as I am aware this still means they get a 2000Baht fine for going over their allotted sick days. This is something I really can’t figure as the couple of people involved are always going on about how much extra money they have to save or spend or their rent or whatever. But then they go and waste 2000B by not turning up in the easiest part of the year. Who knows!

One of the late guys is a guy that in his own words was a “senior manager in the aerospace industry for 20 years”. Unfortunately this guy is one of the most self obsessed individuals I have seen in a while. He seems to be totally self absorbed and unconscious to the effect that he has around him. Among his nicknames are “The Professor” and ‘Mr Slurpee”. He seems incapable of drinking or eating something without giving the full food expert effect of slurping a drink around his mouth or the food before swallowing it. He sometimes sounds like Skippy the Kangaroo. Where or when he got this habit I have no idea but eeeeuuuuuuuucccchhhhh! He also has the habit of sounding so supercilious when he is talking to people as though nobody is worth talking to.

One pleasant surprise was that beside the library rooms where we are based is a computer room that the kids use during term time – which basically means that we can go on the internet. Also because there are about 20 odd pcs it means that there is enough for everybody to go round, so no arguments of the “you’ve been on for 1 hour and I’ve been waiting...” type.

Tomorrow is Maha Bucha Day so an official holiday.  Enjoy.

The famous motorcycle taxis of Bangkok
Try them and take your life in your hands!

March 14
Well, so far March has been one large disappointing boring non event.  So far, the job hunt is not progressing well - in the sense that nothing is sorted out yet anyway.  I have no fears of getting no job but the nervous soul in me wants it sorted out before I go back home on holiday for a few weeks.  Looks like thats not going to happen.  Ah well.
We have had to sit around doing nothing in the school and no office for the last two weeks and its really bizarre.  At the school we went home early and turned up late - well, we had finished all our school work, so why not.  But in the head office of the agency - ELITE - we have to turn up for the full day ( with an exception of a long lunch ).  Its truely weird.  During term time at the school, if we werent teaching and had a big break ie period 2 to period 8 people went home and nothing was said. 
Now we are in the office full time with only make work to do.   We are actually there longer than we would be at school when we were teaching !!!!
Only 4 more days and then freedom, so not long to go.  I suppose they could have been total feckwits and said we had to turn up to do nothing until March 31 when the contract actually ends but I think they would have had a riot on their hands if they had done that.
Because of the fortuitous timing this year I am popping down to Kuala Lumpur this weekend to watch the Formula 1 race.  Yippeee!!  I will spend a night there and fly back the next day.  Then maybe go to a beach somewhere for a few days then come home for a holiday.
March 19
And so the end of the prison cell existence has ended and we are out on parole.

I say parole because officially we still work for the agency until the contract ends on March 31st and then we need to wait for the rest of the salary and the bonus. The last couple of days were really dragging and it got to the point where the final morning was just excruciating. It seemed to be that because we were so near release that every second seemed to last hours.

We even had a fairwell party that consisted of pizza and coke. Wow. They really pushed the boat out on that didnt they! What was quite sad was that the bosses all suddenly appeared and dispite the fact that they ( ie King of the Walking Cadavers ) hadnt spoken to us at all for the two weeks we were there they came in and had the pizza and deigned to share the same room. They still didnt speak to us though!!

After that it was the farewell speech and the awards. One for best attendence and one for the teacher of the year. This prize was a 500Baht voucher for a book store. Wow and again I say wow. Their generosity underwhealms me completely. 500B for a "good" years work. Pathetic.

It turns out that nobody has got a job with the agency for next year. They have a couple of vacancies but at the 30 -32k a month level. That would mean a salary cut for everyone and for some, a 10,000 a month cut. Nobody is going to accept that. Which means they are going to have a load of inexperienced straight off the plane teachers working for them. Oh well. Its their funeral.

The next few weeks are going to be fairly quiet. No idea what I am going to do and where I am going to be. Back to square one as that was the situation I faced when I first arrived here all those years ago.

Lets see what happens.
March 22
I woke up this morning with a strange feeling.

No, not that sort you smutty dirty minded people!! :)

It is one of these strange feelings that you get when something ends. Something that for all the bitching I did, I sometimes had good times with. Is it relief, is it rapture, is it the absence of stress, the realisation of knowing that you will not put up with that particular set of fuckups ever again, the possibility of a cure to the madness you have suffered from over the previous academic year, a hangover, the lack of a hangover :) ?. I really don’t know but there was a void. I didn’t have to get up for work anymore and go to the school or the office of the agency.

What to do? What to do? What can I do that will mean I don’t spend money at an unacceptable rate and will keep my liver intact or at least not decline any further. Stay at home and go to the pub every afternoon and evening and spend money and expand the waistline? Do I just grab some books and head to a beach? Grab a tv guide and stay in my room? Hmm, don’t really fancy any of those things on there own, so it will probably be a mix and match, a bit of tourist stuff in Bangkok, a few days away somewhere, a few days just staying round the neighbourhood, some interviews for new jobs. Of which more later.

Maybe a few days summer camp somewhere but not with the agency who were offering a full time camp at the princely rate of 1000B a day. Only a few hours teaching a day they say to tempt you in. Well, yes but then you have to hang around “supervising” the kids during outings and afternoon activities and then you can’t really go out because usually the camps are 15 miles out of the back of beyond and can’t get drunk as that would be an unacceptable roll model for the kids and you don’t really get any time to yourself as you share a room with anywhere from 1 to 5 other teachers. So maybe not. Then there seems to be an increase in the number of full time camps. By that I mean for the entire summer holidays. Work all year round with kids and then during your holidays work with some more kids? No thanks. I need a break and I don’t mean just a long weekend.

Now back to jobs. To enable me to vent the old spleen during the holiday, what I will do is have a look at ajarn and crucify some of the job adverts.

On a personal front, it seems that I have a job lined up through a friend of a friend deal. Or at least lined up as much as anything can be without me having an interview or seeing the school or ……..

March 23
What A Great day. The first sound of an engine squeeling at full throttle just sends goosebumps up my spine.

It was unfortuntely very hot and sweaty which made spectating not as pleasant as it could have been.

Also at all the entrance gates they were big signs saying that no outside water or food was allowed and they were searching bags and confiscating bottles of water etc that people had brought. The outside of some gates looked like a 7-11 store with all the water bottles piled up.

Given the heat and humidity that was some VERY FECKING STUPID and potentially life threatening decision making.   I did see a few suffer from heat stroke and being led away to the first aid tents. Presumably, this was to promote their own liquid sales ( which incidently included Fosters beer, so they werent doing it to prevent drunkeness ). STUPID STUPID STUPID.

Also I dont know if this showed up on the tv but about 30min before the race the wind shifted and the circuit got covered in hazy smoke from all the clearance fires that were going on in the countryside.

The official team souvineers were total rip off prices with them wanting 300-400R for a basic polo t-shirt, 3000-4000 B!!!! The official circuit products were much better, priced at 25-40R. Unfortunately, I only bought 1 going in because of time - I arrived at the circuit half way through sunday qualifying. Coming out, they didnt have any of the sizes I wanted and only very limited stock left.

On Monday in KL they had closed all the promotions and exhibitions that sold official souveneers!!!! Even the official circuit shop in the train station was closed. Unreal. I dont know how many extra sales they could have made but I would have bought a few more circuit T shirts.
I flew with Air Asia which is one of the low cost airlines for 1800Bath both ways  ( about 50 pounds) - and that was 3 days before the flight and was much cheaper than Thai Air. I was delayed both ways by 30 min and 50 min respectively. On the way out we left from terminal 1 gate 7 and took a 30 minute bus ride to nothaburi before getting on the plane. ( ok, it wasnt but it felt like it )

On the return flight we docked at the last gate in terminal 2 before it changed to the domestic terminal then we had to walk all the way to terminal 1 immigration!!! A good 1 point something kilometres

In KL organisation wasnt the main theme because as soon as we checked into the final boarding lounge people started queing in on different sides of the lounge. When the time came to board and 1 side were told to join the end of the other queue, there were shouts of get a supervisor, why did you tell us to queue here ( actually, nobody told anyone to queue but thats a different matter ), threats were made etc and ended up with everybody storming to the front of the "right" queue.

I am ashamed to say that the folk making the most noise were some beer swilling brits. 

The shopping facilities in the main terminal departure lounge at KLIA are abysmal!!!! 2 cafes, a hot dog stall and one sweet shop!! I am sure they were better in the stand alone terminal that connects by the monorail.    More photos to follow!
March 29

The merry go round continues although it looks like I have landed a decent job at a school. I wont name it for obvious reasons.

People complain sometimes about employers and schools not knowing what they are doing but sometimes teachers really dont help themselves. I went for an interview last week and it tirned out to be an agency who would be employing teachers and then contracting them out to a school.

The first interview was with the agency and the second with the school. During my first interview the woman who was interviewing me kept on answering the phone every five minutes or had people coming in and out of the office to give her things or to take away things. Which meant that it was really really distracting and no real flow happened with the interview. Somehow I passed the test and got the second interview. As it happened it was a group interview. There were five of us who turned up including one guy who was there in a casual shirt, some sort of neck thong thingy with a tribal talisman dangling from it. He also didnt have his passport, original degree or his TESOL Cert despite being asked for it. How do I know he was asked for it? Well, his was one of the phone calls that was answered during my interview.

The agency girl had a chat with him and sent him home and then promtly told the rest of us she wouldnt be asking him back and who did he think he was turning up like that.

That may well of been her thoughts but not exactly professional to share that with us was it? I wonder if anything else was being said behind our backs when we werent there.

I am trying to get home at the moment, but its turning out more difficult than I thought. Many airlines are full and this is the strange thing. It isnt the leg from Bangkok to XXXX Its the connecting leg to get me home. Which is very strange because I wouldnt have thought that connecting leg would be all that busy, so its looks like I might be staying a while longer here and more or less coming back and going straight to work ( give or take a day ). Not ideal I suppose but better than not getting home at all.

April 15

OK, it's been a while since I have posted but as there is very little going on I haven’t really had a reason to post anything!

But to help fill the gap here is a warts and all analysis of the school I worked at.


The rooms we worked in were ours ( with a couple of exceptions ), so we could kit them out really how we wanted. We could put work up on the walls, change the seating arrangements whenever we wanted and so on without someone coming along the next period and changing it back.

The rooms were all air con. A big plus come well actually all year round but especially in the crucial hot and steamy months of June – August ish.

The rooms did have a tape player, tv and video recorder. So I could, if I wanted, play videos for the kids but also play tapes from the books to save my voice and also reinforce the idea that people can speak English slightly differently from the teacher.

The school was actually near my flat so I didn’t need to bother about traffic jams and the like.

We did have the option of having the free school lunch or buying something out the pay canteen or buying something outside. Sometimes the free lunch was actually pretty nice.

We eventually got 4 pcs that we could use for the internet or typing lesson plans or .. actually mostly just using the internet. Which meant I could download a whole load of programs and stuff for free and more importantly quickly onto my flash drive and then take them home.

Most of the buildings were pretty modern so it wasn’t some Dickensian atmosphere with dark damp dungeons and coal cellars.


The rooms did have a tape player, tv and video recorder. This sometimes meant that if other teachers were playing videos all the time, my kids would get to know abput it and every time they went into the class they would chant “tv” “tv” tv” and sometimes even start moving all the desks and sitting on the floor in front of the tv.

The pcs were behind the school firewall so sometimes programs like yahoo went down. It also meant peer to peer programs didn’t work so no kazaa, grokster and so on.

The staffroom was a bit cramped so it was sometimes difficult to move around if somebody had moved their chair to talk with someone else.

The staffroom was tucked away in a little corner in the school grounds so there was very little interactivity between us and the thai teachers. As a general rule we didn’t go into their staffroom and they didn’t go into ours. Which was good in a way, as it gave us space but overall probably harmed us more by not breaking down the barriers between us. It will be interesting to see what happens this coming year when the teachers are all together.

Although the buildings were modern they did share a common problem with other thai buildings and architecture. Sound. Everything was bare stone or wood. The concept of sound baffling definitely seems to have escaped thais. Every room, every corridor, every stairwell reflected, increased sound. It didn’t take many kids talking to raise the noise level to what in the uk could be called legally deafening and requiring ear protectors.

Every so often like every other Thai school we would turn up at the classes and find out that there was no one there. They had been called away for a meeting or activity of some sort. This was sometimes 5 minutes or all lesson but usually we had no idea and just had to wing it.


The Thai teachers. This was a bit funny as it depended on the individuals on both sides. As I said before, the location of our staffroom was not the best as it was in a corner away from all the other staffrooms and I think many people walked by the door without realising that we were actually inside. Some of the teachers wouldn’t return smiles, some would totally blank you every day, some would return smiles and nothing else, some would gradually start to talk to you and so on.

Petaling Street In KL
It is one of the main places to get cheap err copied goods

April 30
And so all good things must come to an end. It is now only a couple of days before I start at the new school and confront the chaos that will no doubt confront me.

For the last few weeks I have actually been home to remind myself of what my family looks like and them what I look like. Of course within two days all the old foibles and behavioural traits that make you made at your family start to surface again. For reasons of cost and practicality I was living with my family whcih made it even worse. I couldnt even say "ok, nice to see you, I am going back to my place now." Sometimes even moving rooms didnt help as within a few minutes someone would appear to find out what I was doing. If I went out, I got the where are you going, meeting someone nice, oooh that will be nice, did you have a good time, when will you be back..... interrogation. My god, my family still thinks I am 6 years old!!

Going round the city centre it seems to have changed quite a bit. There seems to be more hotels, bars and restaurants than ever before. The number of national shop "chains" has definately increased and a lot of the independent shops have closed and been replaced with the anonymous corporate brand image. Thankfully the number of "traditionally authentic" Irish pubs have not increased.

One thing I would like to have done was go round to my sisters a lot more because she has got broadband. Hmmm :) Soulseek is all I will say to you. I only had a little time to use it but it seems to be a better altenative to Kazaa and the like. From what I can see, it has no spy or scumware on it. Still, even with that little time, I managed to download an almost full cd of mp3 songs that I only have on vinyl.

In someways going back was great as you didnt need to bother about the language, you knew everything was going to cost X - even if X is a damm sight more expensive than Thailand. People had the same sort of sense of humour, you didnt need to explain any ironic comment. ( How many thais can you say that about?)

British tv hasnt really improved since I left. Satellite ( Sky ) tv is a full time job trying to find something interesting - at least it sometimes felt like that. It seems to be full of reality shows of one sort or another - house makeover, garden makeover, beauty makeover, job reality programs, and the adverts are all about selling ringtones for mobile phones or personal finance loans for debt reduction.

Some of the wierder ones are those selling stuff or quiz channels where you can win 50 pouns or higher if you phone a premium rate number costing you 1.50 pound a time. Of course they say, they only select one or two people every 5 minutes to actually get on air and answer the question and the more times you phone, the higher the chance of getting on air. Yeh right. They are probably making mega profits on the premium rate phone calls and giving away about 10% of revenue for prizes.

Most of the weather was pretty cold at home - a definite change to here. Some of it was the good cold, that crisp cold you get with blue skies and sun. Unfortunately, it was also the other cold. That raw hard cold that comes down from artic and will cold burn your ears off while blasting your face with 45 degree cold sleet or rain. And yes, one afternoon it actually snowed. Not for long or big flakes but it snowed. I must remember that feeling in the next few weeks when I am waiting for a skytrain drenched in sweat from merely being outside.
May 10
Well, here we are again in the start of the new term and so far here are a few first impressions.

It is as disorganised and chaotic as the last place. Mostly. The overall impression is that it is more professional that the last place in terms of expectations from the school. They seem to definately care about what you do and dont do. We have to swipe in and out using an electronic card before and after a certain time or have the possibility of getting pay docked, we are not supposed to leave school premises during school hours etc etc. Most of these are ok and not much to put up with ( at least at the moment ).

We got a school calendar for the school year which again is much more than we got in the last place, so we already know about when Xmas holidays and mid term tests are. Of course the dates could change but... at least we have an idea. The calendar also lists a whole load of school activities like church services, school sports days, outings, camps and so on. At the moment, its not clear just how many we need to attend or do anything for. But so far we have been to two church services with long christian sermons ( in Thai ) zzzzzzzzzzz and they were compulsory and we needed to sign an attendence sheet. Ah well.

So far, the majority of teachers seem a decent bunch and theres only a couple that I have taken an instant dislike to. It will be funny to see if the instant feeling of like and dislike lasts and is confirmed or is changed one way or the other.

I wonder which school directors' family owns a drinking water factory and supplies the school with its own branded bottles.   Hmmm

May 12
So far this week its just been a case of getting to know you with the students and basically playing games with them. The actual teaching starts next week.

Having had a look at the book, I am a bit worried about content as to say the least the book is very thin. Its called Superworld 2. I dont like the layout of it at all, it is very very thin considering we are going to be using it all year. Each chapter is about 6 pages and half of them are photographs and we need to make each chapter last 4 weeks. Even with the activity book and cassette that means a lot of revision and dead time even with supplementary material.

The chapters dont really make a lot of sense in what they cover, there seems to be no logical theme to each chapter. There is even a a full section on Xmas and one on carnival. Yup that makes a lot of sense to kids in Thailand. If its possible, the book is even more western orientated than the Get Set Go Books I used last year. I mean to say, who has heard of an asian called Rupert or Sadie? At least there are a few Sallys about. There are bits of things all over the place - a bit like this blog I know but I am not paid money to produce this. Whats makes it surprising is that it is from Macmillan Heineman. So its not just a small company that produced it.

May 24

It seems that for various reasons that I am not yet back to the regular rants of last year. Part of it is down to the same story different school syndrome, some is down to lazyness, some down to being busy, some down to the fact that I have been doing other things and some down to the access of the internet.

I think that if I dont do this straight after school I lose some of the creative impetus and get home and cant be bothered. That and probably I am starting to worry about the my college stuff I am doing by distance learning.  I am beginning - again - to realise I have left it too late and am putting myself under too much pressure to get it all finished on time.  It is a bad habit I have.  Give me a deadline and I will work to it rather than finish it early.

Last week was quite mixed with all going fairly averagely until Friday when the kids just decided to go berserk. I mean the best behaved were just talking amongst themselves. Others were deliberately putting their hands over their ears so they couldnt hear me or the book tape talking, playing with their bags or just hitting each other. In the end I just had to totally bollock out 1 class, lights off, air con off, 0/10 of the class behaviour scorecard. It was a full rant mode I was in. I didnt quite get the culprits in tears but one was starting to bubble when I pointed him out saying he was a bad boy, not good, not polite etc etc

2nd class of the day and I thought, oh god. Friday syndrome, all of them are going to be nuts Then somehow, it all turned round and the last two classes were great. In fact, almost best of the week. So I ended up the holiday weekend feeling quite good about it.

In order to get the work permit and teachers licence, it seems that the school are going to apply from scratch again despite me having all the gubbins last year. This means, 23 photos ( of 2 different sizes, 6 copies of all the used pages of my passport and 4 copies of everything else ( transcript, certificates etc). Then we have to get 2 medical certificates. But not yet. The school will tell us when we have to go. And we have to go at two separate times, we cant get the two copies at once. Why this is I have no idea because as far as I am aware, the certificates are good for 3 months and the paperwork should be finished by then. Oh yes, we have to use a certain hospital as well. Not just anyone, but probably the most expesive one for this sort of thing. Last year they apparently were charging between 150 -200 Baht depending on who was making up ( and I use that term advisedly) the bill.

Hey ho. As I said, same story different school.

May 30
OK, time for an UBER rant I think.

Where do I start? It’s been too long since the last real rant I don’t know where to begin, so lets split it up.

Fellow staff.

We have one teacher that is so annoying to talk to. Why? Basically any time you do, when he has something in his hand he bangs it on the table every few seconds or so. Even in meetings he does it. For me that is so distracting its unreal, I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned it to hi or not. I am really tempted to but I know its quite petty so will bite my tongue for the moment until I can stand it no more J

Another teacher in my group is habitually late to collect his class. Like my old school we have been told to collect the kids from their homerooms, take them to our classrooms and return them afterwards. Apparently this is beneath him and he is almost always late coming to pick them up meaning I and the other teachers are delaying our classes to make sure his kids are not left on his own. When he does come, he just ambles up and lets the kids in the classroom run up to him not matter if anyone else if trying to collect their class. Result? Chaos and kids just milling around in one big huddle. Then once outside the class he doesn’t bother keeping his class in order and they run ahead “It doesn’t matter. They know where to go!” Yeh, fine but in the meantime I am trying to control my lot and they are being mixed up with your lot.

I started off having quite a good schedule and for once here having under the normal allotted hours. I was told that I would have to do cover classes to make up the time. Sometimes I would win and not have to do any and sometimes I would. OK, not too bad! But then another teacher decides he can’t take / handle 14 kids. So what happens? His class gets split and I have to take over 7 kids. Another 4 frickin hours which admittedly brings me up to the requirement but it leaves me working 5 lessons in a row on one days and 4 lessons in a row on 2 others. It also means my “best” day is a Monday with 3 lessons. Unfortunately this means I can and have been lumbered with doing cover lessons on Monday as more people tend to be off on that day than any other day surprise surprise. Compared to others I have a light day and therefore I am more likely to be free. In other words I could consistently be working more hours than other teachers.

Cover lessons

This brings up another point. Although every teacher has an allocation of 20 contact hours per week, we have to do 2 cover lessons for free before we get paid for the third one and up. Bastards!!! They didn’t mention this one.

Oh yes, doing a cover isn’t by asking for volunteers, it’s done by the boss who sees who is free and then tells the person they are doing a cover. It doesn’t matter if you had something planned, you are doing it. I got landed with 2 covers when I was sick as a dog and it was tough luck, just do them.

Paperwork, Tax & Withholding

Well, so much for an easy transfer of work permit and teachers licence from one school to another. It’s the same old stupid story. Lets just apply for everything right from the beginning and get everybody to kill 3 trees in the process with all the photocopying that has to be done. Dear lord. It took me about 25 minutes to sign all the photocopies. Yup that’s right, don’t forget you have to sign any photocopy you make to make it an “official” copy. Then we have to get 2 new medical certificates – but not at the same time. We have to wait until we are told to go get one. Then we will be told to go get the other one. And on top of that, we have to use one particular hospital. I was always told that the medical certs were valid for 3 months. Based on what they were saying, all the permits and licences will be issued by then. What’s the problem? It’s not like we are some small fly by night school. We are one of Thailand’s’ best. Copyright all the schools in Thailand who want to charge more for the same thing.

My take on the matter has been (through reading ajarn and thaivisa ) that officially tax is not due to be paid until the work permit is being processed and issued. We have found out today that the school is taking it straight off from the get go. But typically for Thailand, they have been taking different amounts from different people even though we are paid the same. Yeesh.

Also our immediate joy at finding out that they had taken tax instead of the withholding money ( 20,000B over 5 months ) was soon short lived. We found out in the afternoon that it was a “welcome” to the school arrangement and the withholding would start next month. So a double whammy for 5 months - tax and withholding! The best part of 7k a month gone and no money for less than 3 covers a week. Jesus, this pay raise isn’t turning out to be a raise at all.


We have actually got a reasonable amount of pcs to work with for the amount of teachers and so far it had been going reasonably well with people using them for work and email and moving off when others wanted to work.

But now it’s gone up in big bold letters above each pc that they are only to be used to work only and the message was repeated in a meeting today. If we want to look at emails etc we have to use 1 pc between 30 of us. HUH!?! That’s about 2 minutes per day then before we start work, lunch hours and breaks. There goes another perk. It’s not as though anyone was on them all day looking at the news and so on preventing anyone from using them for work. So the result is they are going to have 6 pcs sitting there unused 90% of the day. Another case of looks over substance?


Its funny but in some ways these kids are better than the ones I taught last year. That is individually. They seem to be better at vocabulary. They know the individual words are but they are worse I think at putting them together. Apparently the teachers they had last year at P1 never lasted that long or didn’t bother their arse so the end result is kids that are collectively not very good. It seems that it is my destiny to always get the tough year kids. Why godammit why?

I do seem to have a few good kids, a majority of easily swayed and a few hard core couldn’t care less troublemakers or downright disturbed kids. You know it’s bad when the head honcho and the teacher from last year come up to speak to when they find out he is in your class and warn you about his violent tendencies and his family background. So far, he hasn’t actually hit anyone yet although he has tried throwing his weight around a bit. The main problem with him so far is his total lack of involvement and interest in the class. He originally started off in the main body of the class but he then misbehaved and I moved him to a seat on his own at the front and he now actually refuses to sit anywhere else. Whether that’s because he know he is that well liked by the other kids or that he is now the centre of attention or front stage so to speak I am not sure. What is sure is that he is becoming more and more of a distraction in the class – moving his chair or table, tilting the table over, dropping his metal pencil case, hiding under the chair, the table, slumping in his chair, crating new ways to position him self in the desk chair combination, singing, making noises and so on. There is no hope of him being moved out of the class or even god forbid out of the school because of one big reason MONEY. His parents pay – apparently they are weird as well. He has an older brother who is also just as many behavioural problems. So we the teachers are stuck with them both.

I have a couple of heavy days as I said earlier so I have decided they will be might light teaching days. I am not going to try anything heavy, serious or difficult. I tested that theory out today. It almost worked. Gave them a couple of worksheets and tested them on the vocab we have been using the last couple of weeks. It was going ok right up to the last two lessons. It was just lets wind up the teacher time by writing on the desk. Only bringing one pencil then deliberately breaking it, lets ignore the worksheet and have a sleep instead or chat to the person beside me, lets see how many ways I can sit in the chair, lets shout out random letters when I ask how do you spell scissors. Did you know there is an a,b,d,g,h,k,l,m,n,q,t,u,v,w,x,y and z in scissors? Well they think they do. I am sure they were just taking the Michael.

Once class was actually due to get a video as a reward for last weeks best score, so I said to them they would get a video if they got a 7/10 for that lesson. Next thing I know, one kid bolts out the door when my back is turned. No word of explanation, no asking for permission, nothing. He comes back in a few minutes later and again without explanation tries to come in and sit down. Where were you? I said “Yes” he said. Huh? Where were you? I said “Yes” he said. Where were you? I said “Yes” he said. Oh lordy. This is not a yes no question. Where were you? The home room? A shake of the head. The toilet? A shake of the head. He vaguely points downstairs which could mean anything as there are a load of offices, the canteen area, school shops, vending machines, water coolers etc etc. None of the other kids have a clue where he went either as he didn’t speak to them when a couple tried to translate the question into Thai for him. Where did he go? No fricking idea. And then the lesson went downhill from there. This and in fact all classes take a perverse delight in doing the opposite of what you want.

Take the desk layout for example. I have moved from 5 or 6 desks together to get group work to 4 desks together to now traditional rows of twos so control them better. This lot seem to be even worse than the old school for wanting to move the desks when they sit down rather than the chairs when they come in and the desk creep during the lesson. But anyway, I now have the “wing” desks angled into the whiteboard so they can see it better. But the number of times they move the desks so they are parallel with the rest of them after a few minutes is unreal. Even after being told again and again and again not to move the desks. And actually that’s just reminded me. Getting them to move the desks is unreal when I do want them moved. Move the desks I say and use my hands to gesture and indicate where they are to go. The expression on their faces is the same as when you show dogs a card trick. There is no comprehension and no connection to what they have just experienced and what is stored in their heads.

I have already broken the plastic board wiper with banging it against a desktop to get their attention. Nothing like as sturdy as the wooden ones. :)

June 16

Bah humbug, this place is turning out to be just as frustrating as the other one for an entirely set of different reasons.

There are a few people that got caught with the middle initial query – the passport shows the full names but the degree certificate only shows an initial. I might still get caught with that although they haven’t mentioned it yet. It seems to be tht the school office are meekly accepting anything the MOE says instead of kicking up a fuss and saying we have checked these people we don’t employ Khao San tourists, we are the best school in Bangkok with many mighty connections blah blah blah. The school are also making up a few rules of their own, I mean why cant we get the medical certificates at the same time instead of when they tell us, why do we have to use one hospital.

This is making a few of the Thailand newbies unhappy and really moaning and saying that unless the school pay for the various embassy letters or whatever they wont get the additional info. It will be interesting to see who blinks first.

My transfer of teachers licence and work permit is not proving to be smooth and I am also having to go through additional hoops and jumps that I shouldn’t have to. Its actually making me wonder that maybe this year will be my last and I will go home at the end of the year or if my mood doesn’t improve maybe sooner. I am maybe reaching the top end of my bullshit level. Or maybe I am becoming like Raphaela on the ajarn forum who really does have major mood swings - I am going home, no I am not, yes I am, no I am not, yes I am, no.............

Its one of these overall things, the school, the paperwork, life outside, the rip offs, the smells, my family back home, things going wrong with the bank back home and so on. Maybe it is time to go back home. Lets see if I still feel that way in a few weeks.

I had to laugh today, we have two staffrooms, one for Matayom and one for Pratom. In our one we unfortunately have a typical loudmouth yank who drowns out anyone else who happens to be talking in the room. He has been constantly moaning about not being told about this, that and the other. Some of which he has and some of which is just plain common sense.

He is actually one of those complaining about the extra hoops and jumps I mentioned earlier. Anyway. He was moaning away saying how unprofessional this place was and so disorganised (which admittedly it is but its still better than many others ), then a bit of extra material somebody made up caught his eye and asked whose it was and commented how good it was. He then asked when she had time to make it as he never has time. The reply was that she sometimes stays behind or does it in her lunch hour. Godammit, they don’t pay me enough to stay behind was the response.

Hmm. A bit two faced I thought given his unprofessional comments about the office seconds before. Incidently we actually get amongst the highest salary you can get without being either a “proper” teacher or a subject teacher.

June 22

Another few days have passed and things seem to be settling down into a routine. It was interesting to see that the school got a mention on thaischoolwatch.com It seems that there are a few unhappy people out there who used to work here. I suppose that is only natural given some of the stories I heard before coming here and some of the things that I have seen.

There is certainly a lot of paperwork here compared to my last place. We have to
write weekly lesson plans for each class – 5 classes
write work done sheets
write a letter to parents weekly about what we will do in class next week

as well as that we have to create a hell of a lot of supplementary material because the book is so shit. Add that to the normal weekly meetings and the unannounced meetings and church services and after school meetings it does all mount.

There was a meeting last Friday after school with the high and mighty director who told everyone that she was there and all the school staff were there to help us in any way they could – unless of course you mean helping with paying for unnecessary extra documents the MOE wants or giving us some real discipline options in the staffroom or listening and actually acting to our suggestions and complaints about how to do things better or defending us from weird parents who want us removed because we insist little Somchai should be told not to drop his trousers in class or is constantly talking or running around or……..and deserves to be shouted at.

As far as I am aware we have yet to see someone shafted and fired – although we have had one person leave ( for reasons unknown ) but then it is still early days.

Its becoming a real pain walking to and from class now because our staffroom is in a totally different part of the school from where we teach, we need to actually need to leave the school and re-enter it across a road. If you have forgotten to bring your classroom key its a 5 minute dash across the way, up the lift and back again. And we arent allowed to have copies. Nope, that is against school policy aparently. We might sneek in after dark past the guards and steal a marker pen or something thats in the class. A spare key was actually taken off someone this week and got ranted at for his troubles.

Oh Well.

June 23

The way this place seems to be driven by tests scores and reports of one sort or another.

Every week we have to do tests of either speaking, reading, listening etc etc as well as that we have to do semester exams. We have to record all these scores into special record sheets to give out overall marks at the end. Unfortunately, like most Thai schools I heard tha last year it was a case of everybody passes. I somehow dont think that this will change this year.

You would think that the more money people pay, the more interested they would be in what is actually hapening with the kids but it seems here that it is almost the reverse. Not all the time of course but...... A ot of parents seem to have the attitude of shove money at the problem and no matter what the kid will come out a native speaker. Errrr nope. There is a little thing called atttude. And the one in question is not the teachers. If the kid doesnt want to learn, he wont learn. Full Stop, end of story. No teacher in the world can force a student to learn.

We have a thai guy who is sort of the office manager. Well, thats the title but basically he helps us get stationary, acts as a go between the personell office, thai staff, the photocopier guy etc and us and so on. He is a nice quietly spoken youngish guy maybe mid 20s. But anyway, today he had a message to pass on to one of the guys who joined us this year. He was asking for a copy of the guys old teachers licence. Now it appears that the guy left on less than pleasant terms with his old employer and didnt want to contact them again which is fair enough. But what annoyed me was the way he was speaking to the office manager. He really was quite unecessarily agressive - "I dont know what this form is, this isnt mine", "I'm not doing that"," why are you asking me for this", "no way am I doing this" etc. Just very agressive and dismissive. I really wanted to tell him to just chill and leave the guy alone. I mean it wasnt him that was asking for this, he was just the messenger. What is it with some people?

June 28

I seem to have got the commentators curse. As soon as I said no one had been screwed than somebody left the next day. I am still not sure exactly why but it does seem that things were promised and not delivered. Seems to be quite common here.

One of the other things that have not been delivered to anyone is a copy of the contracts. It’s a bit worrying that we still don’t have them. They keep on saying that we have extracts and that will do. Err yes, the extracts are going over the main details but they also leave out important stuff that could be relied on if the shit hits the fan. Like stating exactly why we can be fired, what constitutes grievance procedures ( if I remember right ) etc etc.

One reason for wanting the contract is to double check what it says about out of school hours activities. This was something that was glossed over – as well as the having to work the first two cover lessons free each week. Looking at the school calendar today, it maybe that we have a weekend coming up of school activities. It will be interesting to see what is expected. Already a couple of people are starting to grumble and make noises about “I’m bloody well not coming in two days and giving up my weekend”. We found this out because we got measured for our official school t-shirts that we will have to wear. Lovely white things with trimmings of green, blue, red, orange and purple I think. No idea how we got allocated our colours or anything, there will be a meeting soon we were told that will tell all. Uh huh. I won’t hold my breath.

Another task we might get is attending the chapel for a spiritual awakening week. It won't be so bad during the lessons we are supposed to be teaching the kids, as all we need to do is turn up with them and stay awake and make sure they don’t run around. But they were also talking about doing it for the teachers during our lunch hour. Stuff that. My lunch hour is the only time I get on a couple of days to chill, no way am I going to sit in a chapel and listen to somebody rattle on about Gods love. If god loves me I am sure he will forgive me and at least I am honest towards him unlike these Christian Thais who preach about love and forgiving but will then stab anyone in the back who gets in their way. They are they few people who can look you in the eye as they stab you in the back. I seem to saying this word a lot today but another wait and see event and see what will actually happened compared to rumour control.

Ah well. No news today – as you can probably tell, the bit above was written yesterday but because of problems connecting it didn’t get uploaded.

No more news today officially about the contracts but unofficially we should get them this week. Apparently they are with the program director for her to read – exactly why I don’t know, as far as I am aware they are all the same. Maybe she is inserting the clauses that say we if we get a government holiday that we have to make the time up. That is a story that appeared on www.thaischoolwatch.com I think that the person is from the other program that the school has, the facts just fit better on their side. There are a few bad tales coming out on that and some of them are true.

Pay day is tomorrow whoop de whoop and we got out bank accounts today and we are promised that the money will be in there tomorrow. At the start of the year we were told that we had to have an account with the bank that is purple. All other banks were no good. Hmm, school colours purple and the bank is purple. Connection or paranoia? After a couple of weeks some people had got their new accounts and some hadn’t – like me. Then we got told that the school would organise it and we shouldn’t go the bank ourselves. Alright, something less for us to do, good. Fill in the form and wait. Err, what account are we getting? The normal one. Yesssss, but what is the normal one? Is it a card or a book? It’s a book. Oh, no card? No, just the normal one. Can I get a card? Umm, yes but you have to pay. Err, ok, how much? 300B. And it can be used in an ATM and is a debit card? Yes, you can use it at the ATMs.

So we troop along to the office today to pick up the card. Its there, jolly good, sign for it and open it up. Whoo Star Wars limited Edition card, funky! Now, can I use it at the ATM. Yes. Can I use it like the Visa Electron? No. Aw feck. It’s just a normal ATM card. Yet another story that was invented to get out an awkward situation of not knowing. I should have just told them that I had got one myself and that way I would have got the card I wanted rather than the book and basic account they were going to foist onto me. Sorry but what the feck is the point of having a book and no card in this day and age. Carry a book round with me and have to queue up during my lunchtimes or right after school along with the possible wrong queue / translation difficulties? Nah. Make sure I have enough cash on me at all times just in case I see something I like or spend too much? Nah.

Never mind they said, you can always change it at the bank. How about getting it right so I wouldnt have to change it? No doubt there will be another fee that I have to pay.

I have just watched an interesting documentary from the BBC about Autism. It is one of these diseases that do not exist in Thailand. The shame would be too great for the parents and for the school a possible loss of revenue. It seems that more and more discoveries are being made not only in the diagnosis of it but also the causes – even if they are still years away from the definitive reasons. They now no longer think of it as a black and white disease and more like varieties of grey. Some of them can actually seem to be previously described as other psychiatric diseases like obsessive compulsive disorder. What quite makes the difference it wasn’t quite explained. It could be that a lot of “Autism Spectrum” disorders could be currently diagnosed as other things.

It sort of makes me wonder where one disease starts and one finishes when the symptoms are so similar and that it could just be the new medical “in” disease for doctors.

One thing that I realised is that I have seen a lot of the symptoms in my kids, in this and my previous school, that probably some could be suffering from Autism Spectrum disorder of one level or another. How many? Not sure, single figures probably with a few more that have some other psychiatric problem but a lot more than the school or parents would like to admit.

July 5

Another week another batch of moans and groans in the office. Much of it is the usual stuff with paperwork for licences and permits and the lack of transparency in the processes.

As well as the usual rubbish that we have o put up with from the actual officials, there does seem to be extra nonsense going on in the school office, which in theory is on our side. Getting any sort of information is difficult, we aren’t being kept informed of any sort of progress. Where is my application? Er, not absolutely sure. I think I have the Teachers Licence but I haven’t seen any confirmation of that yet. Where is the Work Permit? Haven’t a clue. Every time I ask its “its being processed” Others are having even more of a problem with the old middle name problem with the old this is ok, no this is not ok two step. There are a few folk that are starting to wonder if this place is worth all the agro and by that I mean both the country and the school.

I haven’t really moaned about the kids in a while so here we go, part of the problem is that we have basically rich or semi rich parents who pay a bag of money to the school and therefore expect their kid to be fluent in English after the first week. In one of my classes I have a kid that is trouble with a T. At the start of the term he sat with the others, did nothing and fought and had to be sat on his own, then he has repeatedly then refused to sit with the others again, choosing to sit on his own. Since then he has done about 2% of the work of everyone else. He invents new ways of sitting or using the combination of desk and chair. One leg on the chair, one through the chair, one arm through the chair, banging the desk against the wall etc etc. As well as that he talks to the rest of the class, gets up and walks around, makes various noises, shouts random words and generally makes a nuisance of himself. Even the other kids in the class are aware of his problems and think he is crazy. Apparently he also has an older brother who has just as many behavioural problems. What happens? Nothing. The school continues to ignore the problem, continues to accept the parents money, the parent continues to waste money thinking he is learning English and the poor teachers get left with the mess to clear up.

In another class that is comparatively small, I have them split up so that there is no one sitting next to each other. Of course the obvious then happens, they talk to each other across the room almost completely oblivious of me trying to teach them. Today I was trying to teach them weather. I ask what’s this and amongst the answers I get back are pizza, woman and 7-11. Its not just the case that they don’t know, its that they are willfully being little shits. The really really annoying thing is that when they want to work – which isn’t that often - they can do the stuff, they can speaka da engleesh. The only time when they are semi quiet is when they are copying stuff down from the whiteboard or doing worksheets. But that isn’t why I am supposed to be here, why any of us are supposed to be here. Christ, if all the school wanted was people to teach them writing or worksheets they would just hire Fillipinas or following Fearless Leaders’ idea, getting them from India at quarter of the cost. And yet, they still want us. They want us and don’t want us.

You can see the same sort of attitude from Prathom right up to the highest levels. The refusal to listen, to think logically, think or act independently. That’s why so many people have problems getting work permits if the slightest thing is wrong. The folk in the Ministry are shit scared of actually making a decision that possibly James Robert William Smith that’s shown on the passport is the same person who is on the degree certificate as James R W Smith. As it is, the various embassies are making a lot of money from people who have to turn up to get a letter confirming that they are the same person.

How will this change? I don’t know, there are too many important people who would lose money and too many who would lose face and a few that would lose both. There are too many attitudes entrenched and heads in the sand. I suspect very few people do and none of them are in a position to change anything.

July 6

If I Ruled The World

I suppose I shouldn’t have asked the question.

What have we done to deserve this – for lack of a better word – system? What could we do, what should we do?

In practical terms we as teachers have very little input. In some schools we come in, get told what to teach, what book – if we are lucky and there is your pay, now get out. In others it’s a bit better, they ask questions and listen and then do it the same old way of not failing students etc etc. It is exceptionally rare for a normal school to actually think properly and logically about what needs to be done - from the schools perspective, from the parents and from the pupils. Even the big “International Schools” can be fucked up when the franchise owners decide to maximise profits and forget about education. Look at Dulwich in Phuket. It is now the International British Curriculum School. Hmmm.

So enough of the moaning, if I ruled the world what would I do?

An unlimited supply of Cider and Alka Seltzers depending on the circumstances! Peer to peer programs to be made legal……

But seriously, in no particular order here are some random thoughts

Visa / Work Permit / Teachers Licence

Make the Teachers Licence transferable. I mean EASILY transferable. Make the form a little book like the work permit where all you need to do is take it to your school. Get them to go with you to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry stamp it after recording the change of school.

Make the Work Permit EASILY transferable and make the visa for teachers last 13 months, not just to the end of the contract. Why that extra time? Well because a lot of schools give 11 month contracts so that the holidays in April are unpaid. This means teachers have to go out of Thailand to get new visas. Even if the contract is 12 months, a lot of teachers start new schools just after the 12 month period. That means again a lot of unnecessary travel and expense.

Can anyone tell me the sense in the huge rush all the various agencies and schools have to go through in may / Jun because so many have to reapply for documents and permits they had the previous year. It’s all work for works sake.

If anyone is suspected of producing duff documents, the Ministry and or the school should contact the University to check the authenticity. If the degree is proved to be duff i.e. a Khao San copy, the degree should be seized and used for comparison on other suspects. The teacher should not be forced to pay for letters from the embassy or extra letters from the university or whoever.

If the Ministry says it will accept documents one year for a Licence it should have a damm good reason for turning round the next year and declining one.

Even these small changes would make a great impact I suspect on reducing the fear factor for schools, the stress level for teachers and would help to make a lot more teachers legal.

The school should give a clear list of documents that are needed at the contract signing stage to give the teacher enough time to get it ready to be processed.

The teacher should have original documents! It’s a bit of a no brainer but its strange the number who arrive without their original certificates and have to wait for them to be sent over here.

If the school think they have a got a bit of an anally retentive twat who insists that John Robert William Lewis is not the same person John R W Lewis then they should tell the person to fuck off and process the damm thing or go to someone else for a second opinion without fear of it being rejected just because the first anal twat did.


Listen to the teachers. Have a discussion, listen. Some of the ideas may be good, some may be bad but actually listen. Then take the good ones on board and actually do something.

Give the teachers’ real worthwhile training. Help them to improve.

Tell the parents NO! Revolutionary this but what the hell. Tell the parents some kids are not going to cope in the particular English program and bump them down to the next level. Tell the parents kids will fail. Don’t allow cheating. Tell the Thai teachers to ditch the microphones and get out from behind their desk.

Try and start making the kids think for themselves instead of the ritual of copying from the board and from each other in exams.

Back up the teachers ( where appropriate ) on parent v teacher arguments.

Make schools places of learning not just where you meet future business partners of the future and network.


It’s a job so treat like one. Its not a holiday, you didn’t go out on the piss every night back home and came in stinking of booze, did you? ( If you did then you really should look at yourself ) Don’t do it here. Chuck the 3 month holiday / working for beer money folks back out onto the street or into organised low salary / volunteer programs. This would help attract more teachers, who quite frankly would never consider working here because of the joke image it has.

When I went back home and told people what I was doing they thought I was wasting my time and basically my time here was just one long holiday. It’s that sort of perception that has to be changed and the only way it will is if the bigwigs here get the heads out there arses and look ahead, not 6 months, not 1 year but 5 years, 10 years ahead.

The fearless leader is all for making this place a regional hub of this that and that other. I tell you. If Cambodia, Laos or Burma ever decide ( or get enough help ) to overcome their past and get seriously developed, Thailand will be a dot in the rear view mirror. And that’s not forgetting about Singapore, Malaysia and of course the big giant in the north who could swallow all of Asia if things go their way.

Oh yes, I heard that another person resigned today. Another one bits the dust and another one gone, another one gone, another one bites the dust!

July 12

This week and next are heavily disrupted with holidays for Kao Pansa ( spelling ?) - basically the retreat of the monks - and a Spiritual Revival Week for the kids. Basically more christian brainwashing for the kids to screw them up even more. Unfortunately, this combined with a shortening of our exam timetable means that our weekly exam load has increased and we need to do a couple this week before the end of the 1 st part of term. Its not that bad at the end of the day as we are up to date and we are only scheduled to do 1 a week anyway. Others were supposed to do 2 a week and are having trouble trying to fit them in in time.

Mind you, its the same old joke, we are going through all this trouble to create, give out, mark and record papers and then we will pass them all anyway.

I tried a reading exercise with the kids today. Absolute bloody shambles, they needed their hands held all the way through. I can see an average score of about 1.3 out of 5 appearing. Its not that difficult. Its the level of

"My name is David and I am six years old."

How old is David?

The total "story" is 5 sentences long and they are not long sentences either. Its going to be so frustrating trying to get them to improve. One class just literally sat there and Mai Kow Jaied the whoel lesson. Well, not true. One went Mai Penn (Spelling?) - cannot do. Yet other classes took 5 minutes.
July 14

This week has been a bit of a funny one as the timetable has been messed around because of various activities at the school.

Every day this week one period is completely wiped out and another is curtailed. Because we are catching up with the weekly exams it’s causing a little bit of friction in some teaching groups.

The cause? It’s a Spiritual Revival Week. For the kids it’s a case of going to a show with a few hallelujahs thrown in, singing a few simple songs with actions the kids love like putting one hand in the air, two hands, turn around and so on and so on, then getting a moral story at the end. It’s all fairly inoffensive I suppose.

For the teachers we unfortunately have to attend a lunchtime meeting just for us. When I say just for us, I mean just for us foreign teachers. Yup, we have been separated from the rest of the herd. Quite why I am not sure, might be to do with the approach used. For the Thais, it seems like a quite couple of hymns being sung, a little sermon and a couple of prayers. For us, at least today we had a good old fashioned fire and brimstone born again evangelist preacher. I will give you 3 guesses where he is from, yup got it in one. He is a good ole boy from Tennessee! I don’t think he lowered his voice to less than a fervent roar.

I am not quite sure what exact sect he represents but he came out with some very strange ideas and concepts. Apparently GOD knows everything. Well DUH! But seriously, he said that we are born innocent until we know sin. That point is different for everyone. Once we know sin we are condemned to hell unless we accept GOD into our hearts and put our trust in him. If we die before knowing what sin is, we are allowed to go to heaven. Which as far as I am aware goes against the concept of original sin that the Catholics hold dear. Anything and everything we do in life doesn’t matter, good or bad, baptism doesn’t matter, christening doesn’t matter just as long as we accept GOD before we die. Again that sort of goes against, well just about all Christian teachings I know about because they all basically go the same way, follow the 10 commandments and be a nice person.

One of the worst things that we can apparently do when judgement comes is to have what he describes as idle talk. This is quite a bad sin as sins go. He kept on going on about how when Jesus is talking to him when he dies Jesus is saying, Ii told you to spread the word of God but instead you talked to that woman in the supermarket about a movie you saw, why did you do that? So, now you know. If someone suddenly comes up to you in a supermarket and starts to ask you have you found your saviour yet that’s the reason. They don’t want to sin and not spread the word.

This guy also said he had a “normal” job before but was empty and had tried a whole load of other things but there was still a hole inside him, he had tried all sorts of things including the occult - he probably read Harry Potter – before he was saved and heard Jesus calling him to be a missionary in Thailand.

He also gave out a little gem of personal information that he has 8 kids. Bloody hell, that’s all we need. More born again Christian fundamentalists. He said that at the age of 6 his oldest son had made – I can’t remember the exact word but it was something like an acceptance of GOD. But at the age of 16 he realised that he knew sin and that the previous acceptance was an empty and worthless one. Sorry, but what sort of household is it that has kids at age 6 making acceptances of GOD and puts the fear of GOD into them? He was also prattling on about how he punishes his children by spanking them and how he felt sorry about judging them and so on.

It was originally scheduled that we would have to go four times in the week but it has been cut to twice. Just to make sure we go, we have to sign an attendance sheet to prove we were there.

All I can say is thank god. Oooooops J I have to say that sometimes I have gone to church or other religious meetings because I have been with family or friends who do believe. As you can tell, I don’t. I suppose the best way of describing my view is Agnostic - from Greek agnōstos, (“unknowable”), strictly speaking, the doctrine that humans cannot know of the existence of anything beyond the phenomena of their experience. The term has come to be equated in popular parlance with scepticism about religious questions in general and in particular with the rejection of traditional Christian beliefs under the impact of modern scientific thought. There you go!

This guy, whoever he is, is the sort of evangelist that would never make me more interested in wanting to know more about Christianity. He turns me off it. Sometimes, when I have gone to the religious meetings, some of the speakers have got me wondering hmm, I wonder. Not because they were any less enthusiastic or fervent but they channelled that into – at least for me – a more productive message and more realistic one that says yes there are questions, yes it can be difficult but….. This guy today was be saved or go to hell – literally. Nah, not for me. Or for others. There were maybe about 25 teachers there and 5 people walked out after having had enough. I don’t blame them. It was, I suppose, morbid curiosity that I stayed, like watching a fire, a car crash or laughing at a sick joke. You know you shouldn’t but you do anyway.

I have been told that it’s a different person each day. In one way I hope it’s a new guy and in another masochistic way I hope it’s the same guy.

August 1st

Well, I got confirmation that I had passed all my units this year, finally.  I really put myself under far too much pressure by workign to the deadline and when emails started to go missing to the college it was panic stations on my part.  Its really a big reason why I think I wasnt enjoying May / June / July so much.  Of course, that and the work permit / teaching licence hassle.  I will really need to make sure I dont fall into that trap again.

August 3rd

OK, back onto full rant mode.

I am convinced that the kids in this school are actually an alien species. They are not of this earth and of this solar system. They have been sent down here in some diabolical plan of which only I seem to suspect.

The clues are obvious. The slack mouth, the wide open doe eyes hiding a lack of intelligence, the lack of ability to comprehend anything that doesn’t refer to food, the constant intake of food and specifically sugar, the inability to pay attention, the lack of physical coordination and of course the ultimate proof, their unique ability not to pick up any useful words of English despite being “passed” through each year, the private lessons, the extra lessons after school, the language school lessons at the weekend and so on. In fact by the time they graduate from some universities as an English major they might not have progressed from being able to say those ever so useful phrases like “Teacher toilet” or “Teacher videeo” and hey who knows? They might have picked up new phrases that they can use in the future like “Sexy DVD!” or “Hello hansum man!”

My theory is that they are in fact Aliens from another planet sent here to suck the life force from teachers. They then transmit it back to their home planet which is dying and cannot produce the energy it needs for lighting, heating and so on. How else do you explain the mentally drained feeling we all get after a days teaching?

I don’t know if it is my continuing depressive mood or the experience of seeing more and more backpackers or young “enthusiastic” undegreed” coming over here and working but my attitude to other teachers has hardened and got more critical. Maybe it has been the consistent griping from other expats and the international school mob here who look down on us mere English teachers.

There have been a few ( fortunately only a few ) who when they found out what I was doing decided to reply with “oh, you’re an English teacher” with the sort of tone that they had discovered something nasty on the sole of their shoe and dragged it about the house for 15 minutes. Needless to say they were put right very quickly about my so called failure and my qualifications and the blue chip companies I worked for. I wish that in one particular case that I had just twatted the guy. To say he was obnoxious is to call Tony Blair slightly greasy. He just kept on and on about English teachers being total low lifes. Of course all expats were good guys who were only here for the good of the company and their career etc and how he would never go to beer bars or Patpong like a sexpat or lowlife. The irony of his next statement obviously was too complex. He only went to the hi-so massage parlours like Poseidon to entertain clients and relax.

In all the forums I have been getting harder and harder on folks asking about whether they could just come without any experience or degree and telling them to stay home. Those who boast about either having fake degrees or asking about how to get them are also getting a terser response than a few months ago. I used to be quite open to the old life experience and enthusiasm overcoming the laws and regulations here but now I am more and more on the side of righteousness. Whether my view will change when finally I have got back my TL & WP again I don’t know, maybe not.

Just to add to the mix, we had a big meeting last week and various things came out. Some run of the mill, some dull, some ah gawd, here we go again. The 30 odd staff have been told that the 6 pcs in the staffrooms should never be used to personal use like reading emails and so on. We now have to use the 2 pcs in the small lounge.

So for all the personal and private stuff we now have to use very public ones, now I know that in some ways I am better off than in some places where they don’t even have pcs but for a school with this so called “better” reputation 2 pcs between 30 is really bad. They gave a few reasons for this – people downloading music files, visiting meeting point sites, going to chat rooms and so on. In other words some people were downloading mp3s, using msn messenger and err dating sites.

Anyway, the basic result is that people instead of being up front about personal usage, they are now being sneaky and using the pcs but hiding it by doing other things at the same time. The net result is that the staffroom pcs are now being used for a longer period of time than just the simple log in log out of email with the hide and seek with the bosses.

The other thing is that if we have to download anything we should do it during lunchtimes!! I have no idea what the bandwidth is for the school but bearing in mind it has about 6000 plus students and hundreds of pcs across students, staff, admin and so on. I cannot see how we could possibly be affecting the student computer labs connection speed. I am quite sure that we take up a miniscule amount of the total bandwidth.

Ah the hell with it. In a few weeks everyone will be back to doing what they want anyway. Or at least until the next staff meeting.

August 8th

Last week we had virtually a free day as it was sports day at the school. Various rehearsals had been going on for a few weeks so they could get it all sorted out on the day. Yeh right. It was the usual Thai level of organization. Lots of speeches from the high pooyings who then sat on big fat comfy chairs while their underlings brought them assorted snacks and coffees through the morning and adjusted the fans to keep them cool.

Out on the field they had cheerleaders to rouse the crowds onto higher efforts to support their team. The school is separated into different teams or houses – quite how I am not too sure. As teachers we also got allocated teams and got given t-shirts to show our loyalty to the cause of Green, Orange, Red or Blue. Of course, the cheerleaders were the gayest guys they could find in the entire school. We are talking about so gay that Julian Clary seems like Sylvester Stallone.

It seemed to be that the theme for the team banners was some sort of environmental cause. I say seems, as despite having maybe 60 odd native speakers at the school, a couple of teams had not bothered to ask any of us whether the banners make sense. Therefore we had “For the World, For the People, For the Blue” and “Save the Blue”. Quite why Blue needs to be saved I am not sure but there we go. Maybe there is not enough Blue in the world. They might have been talking about water, who knows. One of the efforts from the Greens had “Please, take care them” It was something to do with the previous banner that said “Plants are nice” or some such. Red and Orange could be bothered writing anything in English, well, if they did I didn’t notice it.

Fortunately the weather was not too hot and dry so I watched a few of the games and sports. On the actual day it was mostly athletics of various sorts on the main field and the swimming pool. It was quite funny watching the little P1 and P2s and their total lack of coordination trying to run the 50m sprint. It was like watching a race between octopuses – or is that octopi? – there seemed to be more arms and legs than there should be. Mind you it was quite difficult to count with the various limbs flailing around so quickly.

As well as that you had the Thai teachers giving them quick last minute lessons on how to start from a proper sprint position. One kid just gave up. As the others crouched down, he basically gave a sort of standing Superman pose. Hilarious!

Over at the Prathom section, there seemed to be a alternative sports day with Musical Chairs and other races like running between chairs, eating a banana as fast as possible then running to another chair and drink a glass of water as fast as possible….. Funny.

There was a report in the Bangkok post a few days ago about how Thais are getting fatter. Bloody Hell!! Surely Not!!! I just wish they had given me the research funds and it would have taken me about 5 minutes to confirm that and the reasons for it. You only need to look at the kids and their parents to see the height differences. Then all you need to do is look at what the kids eat every chance they get. Fried food or anything with sugar. As well as that, every afternoon break, the school gives them a little afternoon snack, just to make sure the little darlings aren’t hungry. This can be something semi healthy as a Yakult ( I am not quite sure if those active bacteria/yogurt drinks actually do the things they are supposed to ) to the downright heart attack in a packet specials from Dunkin Donuts. Yup, the little donuts are sometimes given donuts. Mind you I shouldn’t talk, I am not eating as much proper food as I should.

Another week, another holiday. This week it’s for the Queens Birthday on Friday. Also there may be interruptions on Thursday. Yeesh. I am supposed to be giving two tests this week and with interruptions, I might only see some classes two times. Happy Mothers Day Kids!

August 14th
I think in the last 6 weeks or so, I have bought more DVDs than in the previous 3 months.  The vast majority of my weekends are now spent watching movies.  Maybe I will need to break the habit soon.
I bought Buffy Season 1,2 and 3, 24 Season 1 and 2. Band Of Brothers, And about 15 other movies.  The quality has been pretty mixed.  Some are spot on and some areout of sync of slightly out of focus - which on some is actually a good thing as they are pretty rubbish films.  Kingdom of Heaven and Earth?  ZZZZZZZZZ

August 15th

Unlike American schools where they talk about The Class of 94 or 05 or whatever the graduating year is. At this school its the number of years since the school started. So the class who will finish this year are Class 154. I think that kind of nice. But when it gets to class 21840 it will be a bit of a mouthful. Assuming of course the school survives that long.

An interesting story came across my ears about all the downloading that had been going on and the slowing down the internet connection in the school.

Seems that somebody who has a bit more IT knowledge than me ( not too difficult I know ) had done a little research and a trace. The result was a little surprising. Yes, some teachers had downloaded music, but then so had virtually all thai staff.

It turns out that one big culprit was a thai male member of staff who had been downloading gay porn movies - hundreds and hundreds of Megabites worth. Hmm. A male at an all boys Christian school downloading gay porn. Back home of course there would be outcries galore with parents demanding the teacher be fired, police investigations etc etc here, the thing will all depend how much clout he has. Some new guy? Might be asked to leave ( doubt it would even be that much ). Some high up? Probably wont even be mentioned to him. Of course if it had been found out that farang staff had downloaded porn, of any sort, it would be immediate dismissal.

September 01

If you read the various newspaper and forums you will see that corporal punishment it now against the law. You now cant legally hit any kids. Errr yup. Well, unless you are a Thai teacher. Sometimes, going to my first class of the day, I see boys who are presumably coming in late and receiving a late ticket just inside the gate and another little line hidden from the main road where boys line up and get whacked a couple of times by a cane on the rear end. You can actually hear the sound from the other side of the road sometimes! Ouch!!

I think it depends which guy is in charge of the whacking as a couple of times I have sent he kids really get whacked and a couple of times it didnt seem to be that sore, at least judging from their reaction.

As is common which a lot of schools, there is always a circus outside with various people selling the kids stickers, pirated PS2 games, food and of course English language schools. Sometimes the language school folk take things way too far. Handing out the leaflets is a thankless job, I know, I did it for a while in a summer holiday when I was younger and the number of refusals can get you down but; I saw something last week that made me mad.

I was walking behind a small kid, maybe Prathom 2, the schoolbag bigger than him, struggling his way up the street and the woman who was handing out the leaflets held out the leaflet in front of his face, when he shook his head to indicate he didnt want it, she took one of his arms and forced the leaflet into his hands and closed the hands around the leaflet. I couldnt quite believe what I was seeing. I really felt like going up to the woman and smacking her one. In the end, of course I didnt and she carried on forcing the leaflets into the hands of the kids.

The overall result? A few yards behind her was a growing pile of those same leaflets that the kids didnt and therefore just dropped on the street. Stupid.

Things in the office are fairly calm at the moment, unless you count the fact that 3 people handed their notice in and one left immediately. So if anyone wants a job let me know! Over the last couple of weeks we have been observed by the bosses, this was one of the final steps before passing probation. Mine went Ok with a few comments about language level in instructions ie it was too high and the mix of activities wasnt quite right but overall pretty positive. The one thing that amazes m is that the feedback is given in writing, you dont get to talk with the observer unless you want to! Umm. Seems a bit strange, especially for such a so called serious English Program. Ah well, whatever.

Once we pass probation, a few things will happen, we will have to wear the school uniform on Mondays, white shirt and school tie, not really such a big deal. We stop having the bondage deduction taken from our salaries. And maybe most important of all, it will be more difficult to sack us.

The crackdown on downloading stuff seems to be serious. A couple of comments were overheard about removing any sort of program that will download music or movies so maybe it will be more than a couple of weeks before people start downloading stuff again.

I will now tell a tale of a teacher who joined the school not that long ago in another section. You make up your own mind whether he is an idiot, unfairly picked on, unrealistic or whatever.

He joined about 10 days ago and said he was going to resign. He was teaching M5 & 6. Not the brightest pack of cards on the table but.... He is teaching 22 lessons a week of 50 minutes. Because of various activities that the kids did and a lack of enthusiasm generally for turning up, he was never teaching full classes and in some cases, no one turns up at all. The way his timetable is set up, he effectively has a couple of half days were all he needs to do is make sure he comes in at some point to swipe his timecard.

He says that he has been having trouble with his bosses as they tell him that if no one turns up, he still has to give the lesson and that if no one turns up it is his fault. But the main point of him wanting to resign is that the school will not give him the full bonus at the end of the year. He is not getting the flight allowance bonus and is being pro-rated on the normal bonus. He seems to think he deserves the full bonus.

Now, no school I know of will ordinarily give anyone joining 4 months into the school year the full bonus, unless you were a really good negotiator and or the school were desperate to get bodies in.

A few days later he decides that well, I am not going to get another job until October and then it will be the schools holidays so I wont be paid for the holidays and well if I stay until then I might as well stay until December and if I stay until then I might as well stay for the full year.

To my mind he was being a bit silly in wanting to resign as he seems to overall have a very sweet deal. Kids not turning up? Great Stuff. Half days? Wonderful. I wouldnt mind that.

September 14, 2005
Its been a few days since the last effort so thought I would get my arse into gear and put something down.
In some ways, it has been fairly quite with no real excitement and nothing new to relate that hasn’t already been told a dozen times, but on we go….
In the last week we have now passed the probationary period at the school – a massive 4 months. It was something that had been in the back of mind based on the stories I heard last year about people being booted out in time for the holidays. I had hoped and thought I was ok but this being Thailand, you never quite know even if you are told you are ok. But I got the letter that I had passed and basically that means I am “in” and can relax a bit – from the sense of job security.
A couple of people didn’t though. Its shrowded in the usual mystery that is Thailand why that was. One of them got the letter late and one walked off.
Although we are just out of probation we are still in the “hostage deposit” period. (The 4000 baht a month deduction from our salaries that is taken out for the first 5 months and returned after the end of the school year.) So this guy is maybe waving bye bye to 12000 baht – assuming he doesn’t challenge the school and ask for it back. I am not sure what the position is if the school doesn’t renew your probation and says you are out. I would hope and assume that the deposit money is returned.
We are now getting into the realms of end of semester exams and winding down for the holidays and compulsory english camps we have to do. So more of that later

September 21
Well, for the first time in ages, I basically just sat down and started to write something for this while I was still in work. It turned out to be a bit longer, darker and bitter than I had imagined, but right now that’s just the way I am feeling. The rest will come tomorrow – or maybe even more.
Thank god we are nearly on holiday, as we are slowing down a bit
As it seems to be nearly everywhere for some reason, mathayom is stopping before prathom, we have two more days with the kids than they do.
We are now in that twilight zone of being after exams and being before holidays. Well, I say holidays but we have the usual bs of having to come into work to write the reports and do summer camps before they rulers deign to let us away for a couple of weeks. Almost everyone is feeling the same in that we are all saying that the kids are basically climbing the walls and going ape. Whether its because they can smell the holidays or they are as fed up as we are I don’t know. My lot are bouncing off the walls.
I had planned some light hearted fun stuff for them this week but they are being such utter idiots, I am not going to bother giving them everything. I had one class today where a kid said he didn’t have the worksheet from yesterday. I asked where it was. Mai ow maa baan. Basically its at home, I notice another kid at the same table hadn’t got it out. I asked him the same. Same answer. A third kid hadn’t got anything out and before I could talk to him one of the other kids in a stage whisper mai ow maa baan. Then he repeated it. Being a naturally suspicious so and so, especially when it comes to kids, I asked him if he wanted a bet. ( I love getting sarcastic with the real shits in my class, they haven’t a clue what’s going on and it makes me feel better ! ) Sure enough, in the bag there it was. He turned round and gave that little butter wouldn’t melt to hide the guilty smarm that he was beginning to show. A quite little search revealed they all were lying little so and sos.
If there is one thing I hate as much as anything about the Thais, its lying. No matter the reason, to save face, to show contempt, to hide that they don’t know the answer, that they just enjoy winding up the teacher or whatever. I HATE it, I really do. So that set my mood up nicely for the rest of the lesson – why will these kids learn??
Anyway, their behaviour at the moment is just hyper bouncing off the walls stuff. Somebody somewhere is giving them speed laced with sugar, fried with batter on a stick – chicken or pork flavoured.
I have just about reached the end of my tether and am really tempted to just let them loose and do whatever they want. The trouble is, I know I would just be storing up trouble for myself when I wanted to do proper teaching.
Even the simplest task of getting them lined up and into their seats in the class is turning into a 10 minute job.
Walk in and sit down. Nope, get them out and line up again.
Walk in and sit down! Nope, get them out and line up again.
Walk in and Sit down! Nope, get them out and line up again.
Walk in and Sit Down! Nope, get them out and line up again.
WALK in and Sit Down! Nope, get them out and line up again.
WALK in and SIT Down! Nope, get them out and line up again.
WALK IN AND SIT! Jesus, there must be an easier way to make a living than this.
Then once they are inside, the goldfish brain takes over. You can tell one boy to be quiet and stop talking but then the one next to him starts or continues on!
What is it with Thais and the need for noise? Why do they need to shout at every opportunity to each other, especially if the other person is only two yards away? Is it a law somewhere?
During the exams there were the usual pathetic attempts of cheating, hiding their faces with the paper to stop me from seeing them looking at others papers. You would have thought that maybe the moving piece of white paper might catch my eye would occur to them. Nah.
Well, I say exams, but in reality it was just an exam – singular. Not Speaking, just a combined Reading and Writing one that we had to make up. Depending on the level, the exams were out of 20, 30, 40 or 50. Then the fun began. The assessment grids are split into Reading and Writing out of 5 marks each. So guess what the solution was? Just reduce everything down to 10 then split it equally between the two parts. DOH! A real scientific test of the kids abilities. Why do so many schools do this? Why not at least set up the exams so they are the same mark? This mucking around is just pathetic.
We are still a couple of people short following the recent departures and have had a couple of permanent casual people in to do some of the cover - it turns out the only casualty of the probation shake out was Mr Banger who disappeared off to a language school. This still leaves quite a few classes to be covered due to the regular "illnesses" and despite assurances from the management that I would be used as the last resort due to the number of covers i had already done - I am still getting as many as ever. I will make a bet with you right now. That I get a cover lesson tomorrow.

September 30, 2005

Well, we are almost there.

Just one more week before 2 weeks of holidays. For the next semester its broken up quite a lot with Xmas / New Year and so on. With any luck it should be fairly painless - well, in comparison. And then the descision has to be made again. Stay another year or move on ( to another school or country ) or go home but thats another time and another post.

When we got told about the reports it was at first the usual story - we would get guidelines on what we would be able to write. Here we go again I thought Have to be positive blah blah blah. But being honest I was quite surprised at what we were being allowed to write ie we could say that his classroom behaviour was unacceptable and he had to sit in seat to stop distracting others in the lesson.

Thing is to some people, this may not seem like a big deal but its a damm site more honest than in the last place where all comments had to be positive. So the comment would need to be something like he is an active student or some such bs like that to hide the truth.

Even so we were told that a minimum mark had to be given - an E+. Not an E but an E+. Its still rated as unacceptable, so I think maybe that + makes all the difference! Saving face and all that.

Next week we have a couple of summer camps that we have to do, 4 days in total. If we are not doing the camps we are going to a 2 day seminar. Szzzzzzz! But at least it should be a comparatively easy week.

This week just about everyone has been swiping in on time and then staying for an hour and then either going for lunch for 6 hours and coming back in for the last hour and swiping out or not coming back at all and presumably giving the swipe card to someone else to swipe out - a perilous thing to do, in theory you can get sacked for that.

Next week, well wait and see.

But this week we did get a very pleasant surprise. As well as being pay day yesterday we also got a backdated salary increase because we passed our probation. It seems that this is not just a one off and will be a permanent increase. I and everyone else dont remember reading anything in the contract about this so, as I said, it was a pleasant surprise to get this "bonus" just in time for the holidays.

For the holidays I have decided to do something different and head off to Vietnam. I have found an online deal with Lufthansa which will save me the best part of 50 quid on the flight. Sorted 

Monday, October 10, 2005

Well, its the holidays of course. Throughout Thailand that sound you hear is the sound of teachers everywhere going "Thank God" Two weeks of not hearing "Teacher! Teacher!" "Teacher Finished!" Oh how I would like to strangle whoever got that habit installed into the kids. Two weeks of peace, relaxation and doing whatever we want.

In Bangkok, people without kids are also thanking their various gods with the traffic decreasing down to zero around schools and probably a good 20% overall.

The drawback is that, if the kids are on holiday then wherever you want to go in Thailand, it will be filled with kids. I tried to book an activity holiday and got told that they were fully booked as they had got a batch of 50 kids coming for the month.

And so it is with buses and trains to popular destinations ie Chiang Mai where sleeper trains become fully booked weeks in advance for the start and end of the holidays.

To mark the end of the semester we had a large staff meeting. Where the usual thank you for all your help statements came out. We are apparently using too much paper and are over budget. So we have to be more careful in requesting the number of copies we need. Also we shouldnt be printing stuff off the internet for personal use - ooooo the horror!

If you werent doing a 4 day summer camp for Prathom during the last week you had to go on a "Profesional Development Seminar" Which had the usual dry tales of this is how you should do it - straight from a book - and not very practical at all. A couple of people tried sneaking out but the boss started sitting at the back to stop that.

The alternative was doing the camp. 4 days of "fun filled activities " It turned out to be more exhausting than normal teaching as the breaks were fewer and you had them all day. There were no free periods - well officially. There was a certain participant who decided that he would create his own free periods by going off somewhere and disappearing or by simply sleeping through the activities and not taking part in anything at all. By the end everybody had noticed and commented about it. I only sleep 4 hours a night he says, well thats all you need if you sleep another 5 during the day I suppose. At the end everybody got 500B a day for the camp and there was more than one barbed comment about how not everybody had earned it. It was quite funny at the end that we were told the payment was all they could spare. hmm. I heard the kids were charged either 1000b or 2000B, there were about 160 kids. So, on the conservative side thats 160,000 B in income and the teachers got 20,000. The food probably cost 3000 - at most, the prizes and materials maybe another 10,000. Hmmm whatever way you work it out, it sure was a nice "little" profit for the school.

Seems to be that the most profitable business in Thailand is to run a school.

See you all after the holidays in Ho Chi Minh. Got my visa, got my plane ticket and my money. Just hope this cold disappears.

October 31, 2005
So, the second semester starts last week and what happens?

Well, nothing totally unexpected to be honest. Despite being told that we were fully staffed we had a couple of people leaving and yesterday I overheard someone talking to another school and so might be leaving.

So here we are back to getting covers for people again. And yes you guessed it, I got a cover. The schmuck who organises them is unreal. I get one, another guy gets two. Now bear in mind this is a 3 day teaching week. Others get none. What is this guy on? Is he just thinking that some people have done him wrong and thats why they are getting covers? God knows.

On our non teaching day we had a little welcome speech from the director of the school and some other high up. Quite why Ii am no sure as it was just the farang staff from the various programs. The speeches were bordering on bizarre, from the announcement that the director was just back from America - whoop de friggin whoop - to organise another school to twin with and the usual we hope you do well for our students to we want you to work hard but not too hard, we dont want you overworked. Hmm, maybe thats what I should try with the cover man. Hey, the director said I shouldnt be overworked, how about giving covers to other people for a change??

The guy, who I think is also a director, gave an almost surreal performance. He said that the children we teach may be from good homes and wealthy parents but they are empty, they are damaged, they are incomplete and need our love. They need us to touch them and give them love. Imagine a school administrator saying that in USA or UK. That we have to touch our kids!!

It got better. He said that he hoped that we made friends here and that we would not go out alone because since inflation was running at 6% it was a dangerous place. We should not go out alone at night!!! Well, to be fair, if you read the forums at ThaiVisa there has been a few threads about violence to farangs increasing. Even so, I still feel far safer here than I do back in my home city. It was a comment that again raised quite a few eyebrows.

I noticed that the thread about the school has almost died a death on thaischoolwatch. It was only natural.

Oh yes, I noticed this worthy cause browsing about today. Please join up.
Want to help stop the illegal trade of Khmer artifacts?
Sign the petition to encourage the Thai and Singapore governments to sign the 1970 UNESCO convention on heritage protection.

November 05, 2005

Back to my favourite subject - cover lessons. Aw gawd, here we go again you must be thinking, he got a stupid cover and he is going to bitch about it, again! Well, no. Not this time. This was the first week in a long long time when I didnt get one. Amazing! We got a memo about covers basically saying the common sense things like follow the lesson plan the teacher missing made, use the materials they set up, dont just give them whats easiest for you etc etc.

We have now got a permanent cover teacher. Except, hes not based at the school. It seems to be the usual TIT way of doing things. He is employed by an agency and will only work at our school but he wont be at the school unless he is working. Eh? So, what happens if someone suddenly goes ill? We will still need to do covers until he arrives. Seems a bit pointless to me. If he is "ours", why not keep him at the school? Oh well.

All the teachers who passed the probationary period got a little present. Material to make up the school uniform. Black material for the trews and a lovely shade of bleuuch for the jacket, as well as a badge to be sewn on the jacket breast pocket, brass buttons and tie pin. We have to find a tailor to make it up, that comment drew a few sharp intakes of breath. Why should we have to pay, its the school uniform so they should pay etc etc. To be honest, I am not that fussed about it - unless of course I find out that it will set me back thousands of baht.

In the category of "What??!!" Part 1

One the guys - the LOUDmouth yank was giving it his usual when he got the material and someone paid a little trick by hiding the buttons when LMY was out of the room. He comes back in and immediately starts off Who stole my buttons, what fuckking idiot stole ny buttons, its not funny stealing peoples stuff..... then he goes and gets the program director and the assistant director in !!! And starts the rants again swearing left right centre up down and round the bend! Of course by this time the buttons had been put back but under the material so he finds them. Mean time, everyone else is either telling him to calm down or just staring astonished at the view. Then of course, he cant find his badge so the rant continues. Even when he finds the badge he had folded into the material he still rants on and on.

On a scale of 1 to 10 then I have to put this on a 9.5. Its only a 9.5 as there was no physical violence involved.

Now, later on we found out that LMY had his apartment broken into in the October break, so he was a bit sensitive to things being stolen. But...... it was still an over the top reaction to a little joke and as for getting the Director and the AD in?? Come on!!

In the category of "What??!!" Part 2. One of the new teachers decided to work a bit later in his classroom this week - about 5pm - and returned to find everyone had left and the lights had been switched off and doors locked. Now, the problem was that in the staffroom was his phone, wallet, money, keys, bag etc. basically everything. Now, at this point some people might have gone back the ground floor to an office to get a key or to one of the security guards or gone to the main office or gone to look for another teacher. What this guy did was he walked out the school gates and walked the streets all night. He came in the next day and said he had to go home to sleep and change his clothes.

When people were hearing this story the reaction was pretty much the same. WHAT THE F...? Why didnt he ask a guard or anyone for a key? Why did he just walk out? Does he have no friends he could go to? Is his flat that far away that he couldnt walk there? I mean, he did have 10 hours! Why did he leave his money in the staffroom?? That was the biggest point everybody raised. Although we havent had anything going missing so far this year, it is a sad fact that it does happen occasionally.

I think its fair to say that this guy will be the subject of some fairly constant jokes about this for a long long time.

Now, for those who think that Thailand is the only place that the shit happens to EFL teachers, here is a site that corrects the view. Its from a guy back in the UK who suffers just as much as we do though the usual methods - idiotic students, managers and penny pinching. Its quite a good read, so have a look.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Material Boys & Girls
During the weekend, I went to a few different tailors to find out how much it would cost to make up the school uniform. I think my famous last words were I am not that bothered about the cost.

Well, my view changed. I was quoted anything for 1800B up to 4000B for just the making up of one jacket and one pair of trousers. 4000B !!! YIKES! Fortunately, the school is getting someone in to visit the school and measure everyone up. Apparently he does really good work and best of all he is cheap, around 1000B. Which is ok, thats the price of a pair of trousers out of Robinsons.

Unfortunately tomorrow we have one of our out of hours mandatory attendence ceremonies. This one is for confirmation of the new director. no dount it will be the usual opening prayer and blessing and hymn and then speeches saying how wonderful she is and how lucky the school is to have her ya da ya da ya. I wonder hoo much will be in english? Whoop de whoop. 90 bloody minutes we will have to endure taking us up to almost 5pm, after which there is going to be a buffet thing. It had better be bloody good after sitting through that.

So far this week I have been teaching my little Somchais all about time. Its been one of those weeks where you are sailing along and then hit a brick wall and think once again that the marker in your hand has an iq bigger than the collective iq of the class.

Three parts to the whiteboard. One is a clock with the hands at 3 o'clock then beside that "3:00" and beside that are the words "three o'clock". So the question goes out, whats the time? ( pointing to the clock) 3 o'clock is the reply. Whats the time? ( pointing to "3:00" ) 3 o'clock is the reply. So far so good. So the next question goes out - are these the same time? Are they the same? ( pointing to all 3 ) Silence. The question goes out again, silence. I try asking some individuals, silence, I try the smartest kid in the class. He pulls a stupid face and shakes his head. Yeesh.

So, another tack. I ask them are they the same,yes / no? Put your hands up if you think no. One puts his hand up. Put your hands up if you think yes. Every hand goes up. Aw for fecks sake. So back to the original question. Are they the same? Silence. DOH!

Why is it every kid is a drama queen when it comes to thunder and lightning? During the storm yesterday every time they saw lightning they all "jumped" out of their seats and of course when the thunder came they all shouted AHHHHH!!! like they were scared. Oh for petes sake, its not like europe where maybe you could see 3 or 4 storms in a year. It more like 4 months worth here. If they are still scared of thinder and lightning at this age, they are living in the wrong country and they will have a miserable lifetime ahead!

And oh yes, I havent had a cover lesson so far this week :)

November 16

For the last three weeks I have been trying to get the little angels to learn how to tell time.

Not an easy job when only about 5% of them have a watch and of that 5% there is only one whose watch is not digital. So this concept of dials and hands and "past" and "to" is usually quite a difficult one for them to pick up. But it seemed to be going reasonable well. But today. Today.. Oh my god, today was just awful.

I was teaching the maximum of 5 lessons today and I came out a zombie. All reason and intelligence had left me. I felt it draining away during the day and there was nothing I could do. I have to finish this unit this week and get a test in, so it was a case of sit down such up and sleep so I could recover or grind my way through it. maybe i should have let them sleep and got some myself.

About which, I caught one of mine sleeping today. Little f***** . He had actually been much improved in this new semester and had been actually seen working - on more than one occasion! But he has now reverted to type this week. I actually let him sleep. i really couldnt be arsed waking him up properly. I just got a bit of paper and dangled it in his ear but that only made him swat away an imaginary mossie and turn over. The other kids thought it was great fun but...

By the way this was in the middle of a practice listening test. A quick 10 minutes at the start of the lesson and then more practice for the test. Quick 10 minutes my arse. 9 examples and it lasted between 30 to 40 minutes in getting them quiet enough to start, for them to get their pencils out, me quickly marking it and completing it. F*** ME!

Now, who invented those self propelling pencils and thought they old be good idea to give them to 8 year olds? Eh? Who was it? Own up! Because if its you, I a going to come round a smack you a few good ones with a basball bat. The amount of time wasted with them in class in unreal. Its funny how they always need to get new lead just at the start of my class. They never seem to do it at the end. I wonder why? Hmm.

And once again, my decision this year to try and get out of P2 have proved correct. Just a shame I wasnt successfully. The end of last week and this week has seen Prathom 4 - 6 and Matayom teach a vastly reduced timetable because of outings trips and whatnot. But, what do we get at the lowoer levels? Nada, zilch, zero, nothing, nil........... And we were still getting covers, yes, even with teachers not teaching, I still got a cover last week. Unreal.

We got a memo at lunchtime saying that we have a very important meeting first thing tomorrow. Not sure why. In fact it is the talk of the steamie! Is it anything to do with the appearance of the head of the english department in our office today, was it a coincidence? Nobody seems to know. But whatever it is, I doubt it will be good news. And speaking of that, I will need to post tomorrow about the other "good" news we got this week.

November 17
Well, the big meeting today was a damp squib in some ways.

The usual story of making it out to be dramatic when it wasnt. But, they are cracking down on some things - some doesnt change things for me and some do.

The boss was disappointed to see that only a couple of people were wearing the full uniform at the directors ceremony. Glad to see they were only talking about people who had the full uniform from last year but even we poor mortals who havent had it made up yet didnt quite escape as we need to make sure we have as much on as possible black trousers, white shirt - no stripes or spots, school tie.... zzzzz

Its funny how they are cracking down in our section so much but other programs get away with so much. I saw a guy come in today with a casual cotton shirt and jeans with no tie! How come he gets away with it but we dont? Hmm

The other thing is that this week, the teachers who werent teaching disapeared off wherever because the classes were cancelled. Unfortunately, it was very noticable in the matayom room so guess what. They are cracking down on it and every fucker is going to suffer now. Thanks a bunch guys. I had only 1 period in the whole week where i could go home for a couple of hours because of a free period around lunch and now, I cant go.

They have said that unless we are having lunch or doing an occasional 30 minute task, we must be in the staffroom. if we want to work in our classrooms we can but we must inform the head or assistant head beforehand!


Also, they dropped the bombshell that we are too have further observations. Now, you may be going observations, big deal. Well, yes, but they are going to do it unannounced. They are just going to turn up and observe you. No notice, they will just be there.

Oh how to make friends and improve moral amongst staff- chapter 3. Like most people, I am nervous at observations but accept them. But unnanounced? Despite them saying its all for our benefit and the school says they have to do it, it stinks of spying and distrust. Even if they gave you an hours notice or something like that it would be better.

And talking about the directors ceremony, it was as boring as something very boring indeed. IT was all in Thai and zzzzzzzzzzzzzz It was quite funny watching our lot against the thai teachers. They all had their heads up watching the ceremony, our lot almost all had heads down playing games on mobile phones, reading books, doing crosswords, marking exams, reading newspapers......
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
We all thought the rainy season had passed and we were now into the safe period where we could walk in complete safety. Yesterday proved us wrong again. With the late afternoon downpour, if you were wearing the wrong shoes you would be slipping and sliding all over the place as though you were on ice.

Most of the school is that typical shiny stone which turns to ice when wet and you see people walking around like they were 70 years old. Of course what really helps matters is that on the balconies the edge actually goes upwards trapping all the water on the walking area.

Add to that the way they contructed the walkway between the new building and the main section is another area of hazards, we should be getting danger money! They have got it set up so that there are two types of ground tiles. One is rough and provides loads of grip no matter what you wear and one is a lovely smooth one which will send you onto your arse if you dont watch out Now guess which stone they chose to make the floor of the pedestrian bridge Yup the shiny smooth one. So if it is raining, we have the choice of getting wet in between the staffroom andthe classroom or walking very slowly on the ice rink and be dry.

When you ask many people why they are here teaching and not somewhere else they say "its not the money" and yet it seems to be those not here for the money who as soon as they are offered extra work jump at the chance and work evenings and or weekends. Strange that.

As far as teaching goes its been much of a muchness. The same old story of mangement telling we cant do this to the kids and we cant do that. We have now been told we cant issue our yellow cards as often as we have! The original idea was of course one yellow card was a chat with our headie and a red meant a chat with the parents. But of course, that changed when the headie told the kids a red card meant expulsion!! Ho hum.

This week has actually been surprisingly good though. Today I just wasnt up to it so did a quick demo on what I wanted and got the couple of smart kids in the class to "teach". I thought it might be a train wreck but surprise surprise it worked out fine and the kids enjoyed it. Normally I would have thought you could have done it for about p3 maybe p4 up but not for p2. I will continue with the experiment as much as I can and see what happens.

As is common in most of the "better" schools they have a lot of stuff for alumni and we recently had the homecoming dinner. It was really a boring evening with lots of Frank Sinatra songs - doobie doobie doo,do doobi doobie doo...... Why is it he is so popular in these things here? To mark the occasion those who attended got a free tie pin from the alumni. Whoohooo! The dinner itself was the usual thai affair of about 8 dishes all coming seperately and then being shared in the middle of the table. If you had been to one of those before you went to one of the side stalls to load up on the entrees just in case the main meals werent to your liking.

Around the edge of the dining area there were stalls selling various stuff including a Merc dealer. Yup. Oh it must be nice to be connected in Thailand.

At the weekend I managed to get down to Pattaya and played a round of golf for the first time in about 8 months. Only 18 points in a Stableford. Oh dear. The first tee shot a top duck hook which didn’t get off the tee. Oh dear oh dear or words to that effect. 