It’s been a year and half since I started working for Super English. Our boss likes us to write testimonials for the school website (www.superenglishsurat.com), to encourage other teachers to apply. Here’s what I wrote this year:
Year and a Half Testimonial
If every class were like my M1/1s, I’d be pretty happy. The other day I walked by them in the hallway and the twelve and thirteen year old girls surrounded me, proudly showing off a project they had made in another class. “Teacher,” they said, “Do you teach 7th period?”
I gave them a puzzled look, wondering if I had forgotten to make up a class. “I don’t think so. Why?” I asked. They gestured toward the classroom – “No teacher period 7. Can Brittany teach?’
My heart almost melted. Granted, their English wasn’t really that great, but the sentiment was there. They. are. the. sweetest.
It’s only just hitting me now that there’s less than a month left of teaching – and I can’t figure out how to reconcile my feelings of being excited for something new but wishing I could teach them even more. I’m going to miss the daily smiles and shy waves and the girls who show me their notebooks when they’re finished doing a writing assignment. Shouts of “Beautiful!” and “I love you!” always lift my spirits, even if they say it to pretty much every foreign person.
Admittedly, not every day is a good teaching day. Working with 55 teenage girls for 50 minutes, four times a week, can be frustrating. Sometimes they seem so mature and too cool for it all and like they’ve done it 100 times before; other times, they are shrieking and giggling and utterly baffled by what I’m trying to convey to them. They whine or mock me. I whine and mock them right back. It’s hard being in high school again!
But at the end of the day, I like the challenge. More than I thought I would, actually. I try to visualize myself at that age and see myself through their eyes, and I’m fairly sure I’m “that” crazy teacher. Unpredictable, wacky, and probably completely different from any of their other classes – which is a good thing.
My antics in class are largely influenced by Peter’s teaching philosophy, which I learned about through this very website before I applied to Super English. I think it’s apparent that he focuses on teacher empowerment, creativity, and fun – then lets us do the rest. I really appreciate the confidence he has in every teacher, and I think that it permeates through the written reflections you read from us.
By encouraging us to generate our own content for the website and the blog, we get a chance to share our positive experiences on our own terms, which I like much more than writing reports. Peter understands that giving the teachers freedom (from office hours or in other required work) is much more likely to generate “a-ha!” ideas for classes than making teachers try to produce a mountain of paperwork. For this, I am very grateful.
I am also grateful for monthly cultural events, the most amazing food in the world, cheap rent, long vacations and weekends, a truly great group of coworkers, feeling appreciated by my boss and managers, and the overwhelmingly friendliness of Thai culture. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve been offered food, invited to go places by near-strangers, smiled at for no particular reason, and taken care of everywhere I go. I really, really, stinkin’ love it here.
Some unsolicited advice to end this testimonial:
Do what you can to learn to speak Thai – it not only stuns Thai people but also opens up numerous opportunities (being invited to weddings, serving Chinese donuts at the rice soup place on Amphur, helping you pronounce your students’ nicknames correctly)
Camp overnight in Ang Thong Marine Park, off the coast of Koh Samui. And go to the floating bungalows at Khao Sok!
Explore random backroads on your motorbike. Thailand is so beautiful and green. Driving always lifts my spirits.
Enjoy not having 24/7 access to internet (and subsequently media and advertising). It’s a pain sometimes, but I think it’s a blessing in disguise.
The silent meditation retreat at Wat Suan Mokkh turned into very powerful ten days for me. Tough, but wow.
- Read The Artist’s Way (if you are scared of being creative, like I was). Wake up early in the morning when it’s cool and quiet, and write through your problems and your dreams.
I can’t believe it’s ending all ending, but here’s to new beginnings: we were accepted to the Burma Volunteer Program and we start on November 12th. Wish us luck!