Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 4 & 5: Weekend!

  Schedule changes happen frequently here. It was a tough week. On Thursday I found out that I only teach one class at sixth period. Teachers are required to be in the office at their desk when they do not have class. So I mostly just graded papers and prepared a lesson plan. The grading process usually entails checking for completion and signing my name on the work to verify that I checked it. This way the parents and my co-teacher will know that the students' work has been graded. My lesson plan for that day focused on two pages from a reading workbook. The passage was about marriage customs and how they differ around the world. If you were wondering how I prepared for the lesson, I read the two pages that I planned to teach, then looked at the lesson planner workbook that has all the answers to the questions. The planner workbook includes suggestions for how to teach the material: what questions to ask, possible conversation topics, how much time to allow for the students to read or work, etc. So, I wrote down the answers to the  questions on a sticky note and stuck it to the page I was teaching. Then I would ask the student to read the question and answer it. The sticky note was an easy way to reference the correct answer, although I noticed some inconsistencies between the workbook and the answer I made the necessary corrections. I get an idea of what to teach by communicating with my co-teacher. Depending on who it is, I usually have the option  to teach from the book or from the worksheets that are distributed in class. I prefer the book so I can check my answers. This place operates on verbal communication between faculty. I'm not sure if I said that already. Things change so frequently here that email is too slow and altogether useless compared to word of mouth. 

  This morning I met the nicest Asian man I will ever meet. I will be surprised if I meet someone more kind. Here's the story: I went out this morning to survey the breakfast selection on the street, which usually consists of either fruit, pancakes or iced coffee. I was feeling in the mood for some fresh bananas, so I found a vendor with a bunch of bananas at her cart. I pointed to one of the bananas, implying that I only wanted one single banana and not one bunch. She attempted to fit the entire bunch into a bag while I tried to stop her. Luckily, a well-dressed Asian man came over to help. He spoke English very well, which caught me off-guard. He detached one of the bananas and handed it to me, saying that he'll give it to me. I thanked him, insisting that I pay him for the fruit, but he kindly persisted that it was free. I expressed my gratitude and started my way back toward campus. I was only a block away, but the vendors began to clutter the sidewalk while parents rushed their kids to school. When I was near the gate of the school I felt a hand on my back and turned to see the same man offering a small bag with a bunch of mini bananas inside. He told me that the first banana I chose was not ripe yet, so I should eat the mini bananas now and save the other banana for later. I was really baffled by his kindness this time. I couldn't believe he followed me all the way back to campus for such a small favor. Again he insisted that the bananas were free when I tried to pay him, prompting him again to politely refuse the money. The locals here are extremely nice people, but this man really made the extra effort. I hope to see him again and successfully buy something from him by paying for it. That small interaction, although a simple gesture of kindness, goes a long way. It was a great way to start the day. 
  As for class, I had four classes today, three of them with the same co-teacher. I missed the first class because of an apparent rain delay. It poured for less than an hour, so I didn't think it was anything major. But I guess it slowed things down enough to effect the class schedule. My teaching today consisted of me introducing myself in each class and answering any questions that the students had about myself or America. No notable questions today, but maybe next week. I taught parts of a worksheet with my co-teacher, talking about tenses and asking students to read the sentences with the correct form of the verb. Some classes are much smarter than others, based on the reading and speaking skill. Any native speaker can get a sense of which classes are more experienced by listening to the students. 

  After my last class I had an hour to sit at my desk until school ended, so I spent it talking to one of the Thai teachers who has an outside job as a photographer on the weekends. He gets VIP access to many of the best clubs in Bangkok, taking pictures of the dj's and the crowd; really capturing the atmosphere of the Bangkok nightlife. He has taken some great pictures from what he showed me. What I found most impressive were the other industries that hired him. He took pictures for perfume companies, modeling agencies, DKNY, Men's Health, and Ok! Magazine just to name a few... all demonstrating his excellent work. I hope we can work together to set up interviews with dj's and get some great photos of the events. I'm sure I can learn so much about the nightlife from him, and I am really looking forward to getting a unique experience of Bangkok! Check out his website/blog! Fresh!

Song of the Day:
A dance song that always get's me pumped: The A-Trak remix of 'Heads Will Roll' by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Fun fact! A-Trak is the brother of another musically talented cool cat who you may know as Chromeo. Yep! Chromeo's funky 80's sound is attributed to the front man, who is A-Trak's (older?) brother. No wonder I saw Chromeo hanging out in a live video of A-Trak performing in someone's back yard. I've also included a mix from A-Trak just to include something you may not be familiar with. 
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - 'Heads Will Roll' (A-Trak remix)

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