Teacher Alesh and his world at the Dan Khun Thot School

Teacher Alesh and his world at the Dan Khun Thot School

On November 1, 2018, I started a job as a foreign English teacher at the Dan Khun Thot school. It was a term long assignment meaning I finished teaching on February 28, 2019. However, I am going to teach for another term starting in May.

Dan Khun Thot School is attended by around 2000 schoolchildren. It’s actually a school complex comprising a kindergarten (anuban), a comprehensive primary school (prathom), a selective primary school (prathom – Special Lab Project or SPL) and a secondary school (mathayom). If you are not familiar with the terms comprehensive and selective school, the former accepts all students, while the latter admits students on the basis of some sort of academic selection criteria.

My working week consists of 17 teaching hours, the maximum being 24 hours meaning I teach less. If you ask me, it’s still quite a lot considering I give classes to 8 different levels of pupils meaning there is a lot of research, preparation, planning and paperwork involved.

The SPL building
The SPL teachers

When I was participating in the orientation course, I could see that many teachers were going to give classes to 2, 3 or maybe 4 different levels of pupils. I was one of the few ‘lucky’ ones to be assigned 8 levels. I found it rather overwhelming at the time.

I give classes to primary school (prathom) pupils and kindergarten (anuban) pupils. Primary school comprises six grades in Thailand and I teach all of those, while kindergarten comprises 3 levels in Thailand and I only teach the second and the third level. There is no kindergarten level 1 at the Dan Khun Thot School. I don’t give any classes at the secondary school (mathayom) where there are also six grades.

My Grade 1 students
My Grade 2 students
My Grade 3 students
My Grade 4 students
My Grade 5 students
My Grade 6 students

My working hours are from 7.30 am to 4 pm with one hour break for lunch. I normally teach at kindergarten in the morning and at the primary school in the afternoon. The primary school where I teach is the so called SPL (Special Lab Project) where the pupils-to-be have to take some sort of entrance examinations. They have more English classes than their counterparts at the comprehensive primary school.

My Kindergarten 2/1 class
My Kindergarten 2/2 class
My Kindergarten 2/3 class
My Kindergarten 3/1 class
My Kindergarten 3/2 class
My Kindergarten 3/3 class
My Kindergarten 3/4 class

Every morning there is an assembly at 8 am. The school marching band comes to the playground playing music while all the students assemble all around it. The band plays the Thai national anthem while all the students sing it and while the Thai flag is raised. When the anthem is sung the world stands still. Everybody stops doing whatever they are doing and stand up listening to or singing the anthem. After that there are morning prayers followed by announcements. The assembly lasts anywhere between 10 and 40 minutes. Sometimes the students are awarded prizes for taking part in various competitions. I really like the morning assembly. On one hand, it creates a sense of belonging, on the other hand, it always evokes positive feelings and positive mood in me and motivates me to take on the daily challenges of teaching.

The school marching band
The morning assembly
The morning assembly

I often have lunch at the school canteen, which is actually an outdoor area where there are different vendors selling food. A basic meal only costs 20 baht but I can add some more food. I can also buy some fruits or pancakes. The choice of vegetarian food is extremely limited but I am very happy I can choose at least some dishes.

The school canteen
The school canteen
The school canteen

I only recently started going to the school cafeteria because when I went there at the beginning of the term the coffee machine was broken so after two attempts I gave up trying. I only rediscovered the cafeteria in mid February.

Apart from teaching I have other duties. Every Tuesday I have a gate duty. It means that from about 7.30 till 8 o’clock I am expected to be at one of the gates and greet students, teachers and parents coming to school.

Gate duty

In addition, I also have to participate in English camps organized by my employer. It’s a day full of English learning games and competitions designed for the students to learn and play at the same time. A fairly large group of the secondary school students was chosen to participate this year and I was a leader of one of the teams. Sadly, my team was placed last so my only hope is that the students enjoyed themselves. But I can say that our team made a beautiful flag which got the highest number of points. On the flipside, the team didn’t score a single point in the word scramble game. Anyway, it was a lot of fun and a great new experience for me.

Moreover, SPL had their own international camp where I also participated. It was a two day school event taking place in a resort near the Khao Yai national park. Students competed in different games in three different categories – English, math and science. Also, they prepared an amazing performance for the director and other members of the school staff as well as for their parents. It was also a great event. I was in charge of the English game station for the lower primary school – grades 1, 2 and 3. The students played a spelling game which most of them seemed to enjoy.

SPL ‘Play and Learn’ Camp
SPL ‘Play and Learn’ Camp
SPL ‘Play and Learn’ Camp
SPL ‘Play and Learn’ Camp

There were a lot of other events taking place during the semester. One of the more important ones was the Open House when there were visitors at school and the students presented their projects to the academic staff as well as their parents. The theme of the Open House event was Innovation. So the idea behind the students’ projects was how to make a better future through innovation.

Open House 2019
Open House 2019
Open House 2019
Open House 2019

One of the more difficult aspects of teaching in Thailand is learning the names of the students. I have been giving classes to approximately 340 pupils and I was glad to have learnt all the names of the grade 1 to 5 pupils. A lot of my classes with the grade 6 students were cancelled so I didn’t manage to learn the names of all the students. Every single person in Thailand has a nickname which makes it easier to remember the students. My single most favorite nickname is Internet. He is a third grade students. Atom is one of the most popular nicknames and I have 5 pupils with this nickname one of whom is a girl. Other interesting and funny nicknames are: Gun, Fifa, Asia, Cartoon, Idea, Sky, Win, Garfield, IQ, Lemon, Guitar, Focus, Cream, Crape, Titan, Piano, Captain, Noon, Fork, Apple, Ice, Shopper, Famous, Dream, Off and Oil.

See you in May 2019. ❤

The last lesson with my KG 3/4 pupils
The last lesson with my KG 3/3 pupils
The last lesson with my KG 2/2 pupils
The last day with my Grade 2 pupils
The last lesson with my Grade 3 pupils

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