First semester teaching abroad: CHECK!
I just wrapped up my first semester teaching abroad and I'm so proud of myself. It was not the easiest semester that I've taught but it was one of the most fun semesters. I arrived three weeks after the semester started because of the required quarantine and just finished at the end of April.
When I first arrived at the school, we were strictly online because of a COVID outbreak. Because of the student's ages, I would go to school once a week to record a video with the other English teachers based on the weekly vocabulary. The other days, I would work at the primary campus rather than the Kindergarten campus. There, I would create ESL lesson plans for the other teachers. I did this to help and so I could continue getting paid because I wasn't needed much at the Kindergarten campus. Students began returning on February 1st and that's when I began teaching. After a few days of being in person, we got word that we had to go back to online teaching for a week due to covid again. Thankfully, this time was only a week!
At first, teaching at school was exceedingly difficult. Many teachers didn't speak English which cause a challenging language barrier and the students spoke very little English as well. It was hard communicating my needs/instructions to the students and teachers. I was very self-conscious in my teaching abilities because I didn't know what the teachers or staff were thinking of me. Each day, I would tell myself "Fake it till you make it" and that's exactly what I did. I walked in that door each morning with the biggest smile on my face and said good morning to every teacher I saw. As time went on, things became easier. I finally learned all my student's names and started building relationships with my students and the teachers. I became more confident in my teaching and started really having fun each day.
Because of another Covid outbreak, we finished the last two weeks online. This time, I taught each day from my dorm. I would create a PowerPoint with songs and vocabulary and teach each class for 30 minutes a day. Of course, teaching online isn't as fun and can be more of a challenge but I actually really liked it. During the semester, I wasn't able to build relationships with the student's family or even meet any of the family members because parents were not allowed on campus. During our online classes, the parents were assisting the students and watching what I taught. Even though it was a bit awkward having the parents take pictures of me while I taught, I was happy that parents finally got to see who I was because I taught their child each day. I wanted the parents to see that their child was receiving a solid English education and I was proud to be their teacher. I was able to interact with some of the English speaking parents and I enjoyed the time I had on Zoom with the students and parents.
We wrapped up the semester on April 30th and finally achieved summer break! We were supposed to start school again on May 16th but because the recent outbreak, all schools in Thailand cannot begin the new semester until at least June 1st. Although my summer break is a little longer, I'm not supposed to travel during this time in order to help prevent the spread of Covid. I'm going to take this time to explore hidden gems in my surrounding town. I see quite a few coffee shops in my future. I'm excited to have the opportunity to explore things near me because if I was able to travel, I know I wouldn't spend time in my own town.
Even though this semester was not quite what I had in mind, I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to teach during this challenging semester because I know I have become a better teacher. I cannot wait to start the next semester and meet my new students!