The excitement of the summer holidays will forever be an almost universal feeling to children of all ages – as the Spanish say, how wonderful it is to do nothing and rest afterwards. Now being on the other side of education, the holidays are definitely welcomed by all. The slumber was short lived however for the foreign teachers at ACN, as we were all keen to make a few extra baht and clearly just love teaching too much.
Queue Summer School. The thought of the summer schools at home and the words of teachers who’d participated in ACN’s summer school last year pictured shorter days of school, organised activities and less intensive teaching. The reality was not quite so sparkly. Our school days of a similar length to usual consisted of three one-hour lessons followed by an activity everyday which regardless of what other games I tried to teach, the ten kids I was advising spent asking to play “hunter” (wink murder) and “hide-go-seek”. WHICH, funnily enough, when I was a similar age I used to play until the sun had gone down, but now can’t imagine playing more than a couple of rounds of before yawn.
The length of the course was quite nicely split up into segments, leaving room for a week long Songkran celebration halfway through the summer holiday. Other little events and festivities going on during the summer course included the Princess’ Birthday (2nd April), for which the school had a small ceremony for and similar to the proceeding of the King’s birthday in December, Master Simon and I offered a giant pineapple/lotus to (the picture of) the princess.
A school-wide water fight in the spirit of Songkran had also been played out, as well as a trip to the zoo. I’m not a big fan of zoos, but talking to my students outside of the classroom allowed me to be a little more playful with them and get to understand them a little more. One child in particular was notorious amongst three of us that taught him different subjects for being a troublemaker, hiding under tables and answering back and seeming to desperately get the attention of his classmates. I managed to whittle down the bad behaviour by using a points system in the class lessons (i.e. good behaviour is rewarded; points are lost for bad behaviour) and his attitude did a complete U-turn. Talking to him during our trip revealed a different side of him to me. The naughty kid rolling all over the floor was replaced with a very sweet boy from the next day onwards.
What a note to end summer school on, but a huge cowboy-themed party? Picture checkered shirts, hats and studded boots dressing around 600 children and teachers. Fitting to the theme (ahem) were stalls of Thai food and er, onion bhajis. And what’s more, what could be better to start the day that being asked to sing John Denver’s Country Roads in front of the majority of the school? Lucky gal, I am.