A Day in the Life

Authored by:
Mary F.

Mary F.

6:45 Alarm goes off. Cutting it close seeing as I have to be at school at 7:30 AM but living across the street from work has its perks. I jump out of bed and get ready for a typical day in Khon Kaen, Thailand.

7:20 Sawadee don chow tuk tuk ma kah!! (Good morning all the dogs)​

7:30 I walk into Keannahkon Wittayalai and head for the back of campus. This secondary school is huge so it takes me almost ten minutes to get all the way across to sign in and put my stuff down in the office I share with two other teachers.


8:00 Morning assembly. All 4,000 students come to the front lawn of the school. We sing the national anthem, raise the flag, and bow towards Bangkok where the king lives. Then all the students sing the school song. I've been practicing this one and try to sing along too. Announcements are made. They are all in Thai (obviously) so I usually try to ask my students to translate for me. Often times I'm still confused. However most of these announcements are for the students, so I am not missing out on anything. If there is anything super important for me to know, the International Program director will make sure I know, therefore I am not worried.

8:40 Morning assembly ends and first period begins. Most of the time morning assembly runs long and we just go to class late - very typical Thai time. Thai teachers are not stressed about time, which I am not used to at all from teaching in America. It is very common for a Thai teacher to come to class and leave class late. This was frustrating for me at first. At my elementary school in North Carolina, USA we were taught that every minute of the school day is crucial to a child's learning. It's not that the Thai teachers don't care, they are just more relaxed about exact schedule times. This was something that I was able to quickly adjust to.

10:20 I teach in an International Program at my school. What that means is that my 12 year old students take a majority of their classes in English, taught by me and another OEG teacher, Claudia. They also take Chinese communication, Chinese reading and writing, and Thai literature. That means everything else is left to Teacher Claudia and me. We teach them English, math, science, art, music, PE, and a computer course. This morning I have math with them! We are learning about fractions. I find that my biggest struggle with them is not that they can't do the math, it is just the English they struggle with. They know what a numerator is, they just cannot always remember the word for it in English. This also makes word problems very tricky. Figuring out the meaning behind the words in word problems is not always easy.

12:00 Lunch time!! You might think that in a school of 4,000 students that there would be a couple of lunch periods to spread out the students, but nope, not at my school! Which means that the two school canteens are absolutely filled with students, and sometimes dogs, running everywhere. Luckily for me, I can go off campus for lunch. I've been here a couple of months so I have my favorite places and have made friends with the owners. This makes lunch a very social and enjoyable time.

1:50 This afternoon I have been asked to sub for another English teacher who isn't here today. This isn't totally unusual, but I am never given a warning. This was another thing that at first was very frustrating. I did not feel confident walking into a classroom of students and having absolutely no plan. After it happened a couple of times I came up with a list of getting to know you English games that require little materials. Now I am always ready for times like this. The program I work in, IP, is very small therefore I now like it when I am asked to substitute for other teachers because it means I get to meet more of the students in my huge school! So many more faces to recognize and say hello to on campus.

2:40 Getting the kids active for PE is a big priority. However I can't say they always love it.

4:00 Directly after school I head to P Yings house. (You say P in front of the names of people who are older than you, it shows respect.) P Ying is my Thai language tutor. Once a week I go over to her house and work with her for 30 minutes practicing my Thai. In exchange, after we are done I work on reading in English for 30 minutes with her son Agape. I love this family and getting to know them over my time here has not only helped my language a ton, but it has also helped me understand Thai culture! They have become close friends.

5:30 Quick run around my favorite lake here. I love being outdoors and doing things in nature. While that is harder living in a city without a car, I have been able to find special places like this lake that give me time to be outdoors and experience green things.


7:00 I meet up with a Thai friend. She has asked if I will be in her YouTube video. I wish I was kidding about this, but to understand how much I am not kidding you can just go ahead and watch as I complete the spicy noodle challenge with her.

Spicy Noodle Challenge

9:30 After a full day I make it back home. Exhausted, but happy and ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

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