The School System: schedule, buildings & technology
The school day starts at 8:00 am with the ceremonial raising of the flag. The national anthem is sang at this time followed by the daily announcements. Unless it is raining, the students stand and then sit/squat on the field in front of the flag pole. This lasts until 8:20. Then, the students go to class, which is suppose to begin at 8:30, however it seems the first class period doesn’t get going until 8:45. From what I can understand, there are a total of 6 class periods in the day. Each taking about 50 minutes. Three classes are in the morning, followed by an hour lunch from 11:30- 12:30 (This is vastly different than my high school. We only had, it seemed, 20 minutes. Maybe this is why I eat faster than the Thais). There are three class periods in the afternoon, and the last hour (at least from what I have seen) is consists of pick up trash around the school grounds. School is dismissed at 3:30. The kids do not have the same classes every day (this is one of the biggest things that surprised me). At the high school, the students only have math 3 times a week! The kids travel with the same class to the various classrooms (like we did in elementary school). The teachers schedules vary widely each day of the week. For instance, Monday I teach a period of math during 3rd period, and Tuesday I teach those same group of students 1st period. The average high school teacher actually teaches, in front of the classroom, an average of 20 per week. (This does not take into account all the interruptions). Teaching twenty-five hours is considered a lot. (I am curious how long the average high school teacher in the US spends in front of the classroom. I told one teacher that in America, teachers teach 30+ hours/week. He was amazed, and even said he couldn’t work in America, too hard.)
The school is made out of several building. There is a porch on the outside and the rooms are inside. Students can wear their shoes on the outside and on the porch, but have to take them off before they enter the classroom. However, teachers are able to wear shoes in the classroom (the souls of my feet are thankful for this). Most rooms do not have air-conditioning, just electronic fans. The bathrooms are detached from the school. For elementary schools, the buildings usually surround the soccer field. The lunchroom is its separate, open-air building. I find it funny Thais call it a “Canteen”. I enjoy school lunch in Thailand much more than school lunch in America=no frozen food. At the high school, there are little stalls where the cooks prepare different Thai dishes.
Within Bantak schools, the amount of technology each class has varies widely from room to room. Some just have blackboards, while others have whiteboards and a projector. When I teach English, I am almost always in the projector room. (Ninety-seven percent of the time it is super convenient because I prepare power points beforehand, 3 percent it is inconvenient because the power has gone out. Note: in my town, power outages aren’t that common at all. However, this depends where you are in Thailand.) My math classroom even has some I-have-never-seen-it-before technology: a special pen that allows one to “write” on the projection without leaving a mark on the screen. I have caught myself sometimes thinking ,”Back when I was in high school, we didn’t have any fancy screen-projection-markers. We just used the white board.”
Ok, I think that is long enough. Next, I think I will focus more on the students, teachers and their interactions.