Experience is often the best teacher

How can I improve my teaching practice next year?


The school year in Thailand is reaching its conclusion so in this blog I will share some insights with the aim of improving my teaching practice next year.

Speak Slowly and Check for Understanding

Developing a conscious awareness of my speaking speed and modifying it to suit my students was a major skill that I needed to develop. Gradually I learnt to convey English instruction slowly and clearly whilst continually ask students to verify their understanding.

My own experience in learning Thai is similar, listening is a difficult skill to master and I often haven to ask my Thai interlocutors to "speak more slowly please."

Often I would encourage an enthusiastic student to the front and get them to teach the students by repeating the same concepts. This was fun for the students and gave the "new teacher" confidence as they addressed the whole class. Any form of student to student learning is beneficial and assists in overcoming shyness.

Build a Collection of Effective Games and Activities

Having plenty of effective games and activities that keep the students interested is your best strategy to maintain successful, non-confrontational classroom management. Constantly peruse the internet and collaborate with other teachers to expand your arsenal of effective activities.

Be willing to experiment and don't be afraid to introduce a new game. Just explain a new game with plenty of gestures and take it slowly, slowly. Once the students understand the game they will enjoy playing it, and if it takes a while to get the game going then all the better.

When I was teaching some huge classes last year, (I had one group of 76 students), I found that bringing some small soccer-balls was a great aid. The balls could be used in a variety of games as learning tools and as a reward for good behaviour.

Creating a collection of effective realia was also a great winner for me. Large toy animals, weapons and vehicles effectively kept the students entertained and attentive. I also cut out three sets of the alphabet with individual cards from A-Z and used them in a variety of games that helped increase participation from K1 right through to P6.

Laminating Machine

A great idea that I picked up from a colleague this year was to invest in a laminating machine. You can pick one up for around 2,000 baht at sites like Lazada. Lamination effectively safeguards the durability and presentation of my teaching materials. Knowing that I can laminate classroom material makes my preparation more rewarding and worthwhile. Hopefully when I am ready to take on that next job interview my array of laminated teaching materials will impress my prospective employer.

Smile with the Radiance of a Beaming Sun

On many occasions while working at school I was reminded of the almost mandatory importance of emanating a sprightly and cheerful countenance. Your constantly beaming face should be constructed with a jocund stoicism as you deal with the unexpected obstacles that are cast upon your teaching ventures in Thailand.

I learnt throughout the year that professional communication in Thai schools occurs in a manner that differs widely from my experiences in Australia. This caused me to realise that argument and criticism, (no matter how positive the intention), were unwelcome and inappropriate methods of communication for a foreigner in a Thai staff room.

Feeling at times like a Victorian child who "is better seen but not heard", I decided to adopt the attitude that, "when in Rome do as the Romans do." Thus my strategy was to glow with a jovial smile and avoid involvement in criticism pertaining to issues occurring in the school environment. This was the best way for me to cope with frustration, but also developed my ambition to seek a school more suitable to my teaching personality.

Set Your Own Criteria

As I deeply respect many aspects of Thailand's fascinating culture and wish to continue teaching here, I decided to assess my own criteria for what I wanted from the school environment. I concluded that as I am passionate about delivering effective learning outcomes for my students that I needed to clarify some important prerequisites. I would advise any teacher mulling over the decision to continue teaching in Thailand to do the same.

English Friendly Schools

Firstly consider the way English is treated at your school. With a view to next year, take advantage of the experience you have gained, and seek a contract at a school that values your passion and expertise. Schools who have Thai English teachers who are more confident and outgoing when interacting with Western teachers are a definite plus.

Another good indicator is the presence of English around the school. Are there a lot of English materials on display in the English language classrooms? Are the students encouraged to speak and listen to English at assemblies and on other important school occasions like sporting carnivals and academic awards nights ?

Appropriate Student Age Groups

Another thing that you can control is selecting the age group that is most appropriate for you. If you feel a little bit uncomfortable in a Mathayom School, take an opportunity to work at a summer camp to discover if teaching Prathom or Kindergarten aged students would be more suitable.

If you struggle to keep up with the high voltage energy of younger students then think about teaching adults in after school tuition or at a business language college.

Personally, I prefer smaller class sizes so when I made my plans for this year I sought out a school where my preferences would be met. Rather than becoming overwhelmed with disgruntlement in regard to the Thai Educational System, you can take charge of your teaching destiny by finding a school that best suits your needs and teaching style.

Mutual Respect

Be willing to put in a bit of extra work with lesson planning and interact with students and staff as much as you can outside of the classroom. If you work in an environment where there is a degree of genuine mutual respect amongst the teachers then your teaching practice is bound to be more rewarding. Whilst we come from different cultures, all teachers should have at least one common goal, providing our students with the best educational opportunity, development and care that we possibly can.

If you can't find such a school in Thailand then check out some of the interviews on ajarn.com by teachers who have decided to teach in other countries. Maybe you could discover your dream teaching job abroad!


Enjoyed the blog? Then please pay a visit to my website for free teaching materials, ESL games and more!


Comments

You don't deliver learning outcomes, they are merely statements of what the student should know at the end of the course.

By Lloyd, Bangkok (5 months ago)

Post your comment

Comments are moderated and will not appear instantly.

Featured Jobs

Computer Teacher (55K-69K)

8 hours ago

฿50,000+ /month

Bangkok


Native English Kindergarten Teacher

19 hours ago

฿50,000+ /month

Bangkok


Teachers for November Start

19 hours ago

฿30,000+ /month

Various locations


Kindergarten Teacher (15-30K)

1 day, 19 hours ago

฿15,000+ /month

Chon Buri


Teaching Assistants

1 day, 19 hours ago

฿20,000+ /month

Samut Sakhon


Filipino and Chinese Teachers

2 days, 14 hours ago

฿20,000+ /month

Bangkok


TEFL Courses & Training

Get off to a good start...

Take your course
in Thailand!

Training Directory

Featured Teachers

  • Matthew


    Certificate

    British, 52 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Ian


    BA

    British, 36 years old. Currently living in United Kingdom

  • Anas


    BA

    Palestinian, 39 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Anthony


    MA

    Moroccan, 35 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Liezl


    Diploma

    Filipino, 21 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • James


    PGCE

    British, 29 years old. Currently living in United Kingdom

  • Alexander


    BSc

    American, 26 years old. Currently living in United States of America

  • Kieron


    PGCE

    British, 32 years old. Currently living in United Kingdom

  • Abigail


    BSc

    Filipino, 34 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Taylor


    BA

    American, 24 years old. Currently living in Thailand

Sponsors

English Planet

To be internationally recognized as the leader in quality English language training.

Smartys

Vacancies for in-house and corporate teachers at the finest schools in Suphanburi City

BSI Broker

Brokers for ajarn health insurance and for all your Thailand insurance needs.

Siam Computer & Language

Competitive teacher packages with benefits and bonus incentives

Kajonkietsuksa School

First bilingual school in Phuket. Vacancies for kindergarten, primary and secondary teachers.

Kasintorn St Peter School

Progressive English program school near Bangkok employing NES and Filipino teachers

Inlingua Thailand

Premier language school with many branches and corporate training.

Space available

Become an ajarn dot com sponsor

The Hot Spot


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.