After a few weeks of being back in Thailand, we are officially in full swing with school and other activities! Michael and I enjoyed being around for teacher orientation this year - it makes a big difference to get all of the announcements and information at the same time as everyone else, rather than having to play catch up after school has started! We are just as well-informed as everyone else on staff this year. Woohoo! :)
Both of our jobs are similar to what we did last year. Michael is the history teacher for grades 7-12. He took over during the second semester last year, so starting at the beginning and having two extra classes is quite new for him. It's been a little overwhelming to get lesson plans and such ready due the the number of students and the number of class periods he has. The grand total (we discovered yesterday) is that Michael has close to 100 students, but has less than half the number of class periods as most other subjects. History is only taught twice a week, and we have a lot of random days off during the first semester due to Buddhist and Thai holidays.
Michael is also the 10th grade homeroom teacher this year - there are 20 students in the class, making it the largest in the high school. From what I understand, they can be a pretty rowdy bunch, so he might have his hands full, there! :)
I am teaching high school English (grades 10-12), and ONLY English this year, which I'm super excited about! (I had to teach two history classes last year...they weren't my favorite) Three of the classes are ones that I taught last year, then I have a new elective class added in. I essentially got to make up the elective class, and decided on making it a British Literature course. So far, so good. At least two of the students in that class seem excited to be there! I am also the 12th grade homeroom teacher (yay!).
In addition to teaching, I've also become the faculty adviser for the student government. Haha - this is funny for several reasons. 1. I have never done anything with any sort of student government in my life. 2. Student government at GES, in previous years, was simply a class project. The HS Thai classes did student government each year as a requirement to learn about democracy. Seriously. So this year, I get to be a part of re-making the whole system so it actually works. This could get interesting...
Other than that, a lot of things around here remain the same. We are living in the same apartment as last year, and we have a lot of the same staff members at school this year. It's been fun to meet the new teachers and get to know them a little bit, too!
School started this past week. We had two days of class (Thursday and Friday)...so I guess the real work starts this coming week. Our schedules are a little different than last year, much to the dismay of all the middle school and high school students. For grades 7-12, class starts at 8:05, and school does not get out until 4:05. Our morning break has been cut, and our lunch break has been cut down to half an hour. (Last year we ended at 3:40, and had a 15 minute morning break and 45 minutes for lunch.) It's a long day! The reason for all of this is because we needed an extra class period in the day to fit all the classes into the schedule. It doesn't affect the teachers too much - we have the same number of teaching hours and we're always supposed to be "available" from about 7:40-4:40, no matter what time school starts or ends. However, we have heard plenty of complaining from the students, and I have a hunch that will continue on and off throughout the school year. I hope they eventually get used to it, though.
Phew. I feel like this blog post has been a whirlwind of information. Before I finish it off, though, there are a couple of specific prayer requests that we want to share with you:
1. There are 2 science classes and 2 math classes in high school that are currently being taught by a Thai teacher. The school was not able to find another foreign teacher to replace the one who left last year, and while this doesn't seem like a big deal (to have a Thai teacher step in), it really is. There are a number of students and parents who are extremely upset about this - some of the high school students are receiving about 80% of their education in Thai and only 20% in English - it's supposed to be the other way around. Please pray that these positions will be filled quickly, and that in the meantime, the parents and students will be patient with the school. There is not a whole lot else we can do about it right now.
2. Pray for the time we have with our homeroom classes. Homeroom is about 25-30 minutes a day, and we as teachers are supposed to use that time to teach the Bible. It's really difficult to do that with the high school students - many of them are firm in their Buddhist beliefs, and we want to reach them, not alienate them. Pray that God would give us (Michael and I, as well as the other GES teachers) the topics and words that we need in order to have good discussions and relationships with our students, especially during homeroom. Please also pray for the students themselves, that they will be open to the Spirit's movements.
Well, that's about all. We hope this note finds you well, and happy Father's Day to all you dads who are reading this!