My two reasons for coming to Thailand were to be able to travel around Southeast Asia and to grow as an educator.
Being a teacher is part of my identity, it is incredibly important to me, and something I have spent a lot of time becoming and improving at. It was important to me that while I was “taking a break” from my career in America I was continuing to better my craft.
I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in early childhood education. However, one gap I found in my education, as well in later professional development courses, was how to address the specific needs of English language learners. I have had a few English language learners in my American classroom but,admittedly did not always have their specific needs for each lesson at the forefront of my mind. I mostly believed that because they were in the 5-7 age range the “sponge” method would work. The sponge method being that younger students have minds like sponges and will pick up things very quickly, similar to how babies learn language, through full immersion. Immersion is not ineffective and young students do pick up language this way. However, intentional teaching paired with full immersion is the most effective method for language learning.
Teaching in Thailand has really challenged my direction giving and explanatory skills. I am more cognizant of the pace in which I speak as well as the vocabulary I use. I have had to reflect on my language to understand its nuances, rules, and many many exceptions to these rules. I have learned the importance in creating a classroom culture where asking for help or clarity is encouraged and rewarded. I have learned to check for understanding OFTEN. These ideas go against the cultural norms of Thai classrooms and thus had to be taught to my students.
Teaching in Thailand I have access to significantly less resources than I am used to in the States. I do not have a resource room, smartboard, an abundance of school supplies, or a classroom library. Our schedule is often changed with no warning. I have learned how to maximize the time we have and be able to do more with less. I utilize a lot of free online resources and the technology we do have to share resources with my students to minimize the need for printed copies. I highly reccomend FluencyU, ReadWorks, ReadingA-Z, Words Their Way, and Teachers Pay Teachers.
My professional goals include a commitment to continual growth, becoming a leader in my school, and impacting students’ lives for the better.
Teaching in Thailand has equipped me to better serve English language learners, create a more culturally competent classroom, and to be more flexible. All of these things have made me a better educator and more interesting candidate. I have been applying to international schools and schools back in the US as I prepare for the next school year and have gotten many interviews with schools interested in my experience.