A Day in the Life of an English Teacher

The old school building at Wat Ben
The old school building at Wat Ben

Here is a typical day for me as an English teacher at an all-boy public high school in Bangkok. Remember, I mostly teach Math and Science in English, so my experiences may not be the norm, but hopefully this post gives you some insight into what teaching here is really like:

6:45 Wake up and get ready for work. Sometimes I have breakfast or walk my ‘hood looking for fresh fruit (pineapple, watermelon, bananas) and coffee. Sometimes I splurge and get a latte and muffin at the nearby Starbucks (don’t judge me!).

7:25ish-7:45ish I ride to school on the back of my boyfriend’s moto. I’m supposed to be at school by 7:30 but no one really cares since most of the teachers can’t be bothered to make it by 7:45. This may not be the case for all schools, but our teachers definitely believe in the concept of Thai time (make it in on time if you can, oh well if you can’t).

Me, on a moto :)
Me, on a moto 🙂

7:45-8:30 Prep for my first class of the day, chat with the coworkers (foreign and Thai), maybe get 20 baht (65 cent) breakfast down at the canteen, have some tea or coffee.

8:30-11:00 Depending on the day, I have between 2 and 4 lessons, all 50 minutes (for my coworkers who teach English conversation, writing, and reading, 4 lessons a day is the norm, but some have as many as 6 a day). I teach math, science, and conversation in English, so I have a lighter schedule. I always have lunch from either 11:00-11:50 or 11:50-12:40

Hanging in the office
Hanging in the office

11:00 Get lunch from the canteen, the local outdoor kitchen behind the school (30 baht dishes, so yummy) or drive down the road to another outdoor kitchen with more options. This is where I get most of my Thai language practice (im maak! – very full!).

11:50-3:30 Finish up lessons, chat with students, use the wifi in the computer lab, watch shows on my laptop, nap in the secret corner behind the bookcase (yeah, napping is totally allowed in Thailand!), read, give make-up tests for absent students, chat with coworkers, help the Thai teachers with proofreading, or plan for upcoming lessons* later in the week.

*My lesson planning is more intensive than other teachers’ because I teach math and science to students with a really low level of English. This means I usually have to make up most of my worksheets and quizzes (unless we do activities in their textbooks). I don’t mind it though and I imagine someday, when I have actual useful resources at hand, teaching will seem so easy! Right…?

Bonus: Since I have to be at the school for about 8 hours a day and only spend 3.5 hours max actually teaching, I have a lot of unsupervised down time. That’s one of my favorite parts about this job – arranging my own free time.

Our office (foreigners are in here, the Thai teachers are in the bigger office connecting to this one). We each have our own desk and you can see the napping area behind the bookcase where the chairs (aka our bed) are poking out
Our office (foreigners are in here, the Thai teachers are in the bigger office connecting to this one). We each have our own desk and you can see the napping area behind the bookcase where the chairs (aka our bed) are poking out

3:30ish Leave school and head home (via moto).

3:30-10:30 Endless free time! Since there is so much downtime at work, I NEVER work at home (unless something comes up, like a forgotten test that needs to happen the next morning). This leaves time for working out, watching movies, reading, exploring the neighborhood, meeting up for drinks or dinner with friends, going out to restaurants, working on my blog, planning upcoming trips, seeing cheap movies at the cinema, etc. I also tutor for an hour and a half on Wedensday’s, but even that work doesn’t tire me out since it’s reading and writing practice.

View from my apartment roof
View from my apartment roof

So, here are what I think are the benefits of my typical work-day:

-No supervision, so I make my own free time.

-Very low stress level since I have plenty of down-time to plan my lessons.

-Most days, work is not tiring so I have plenty of energy for extra tutoring hours after school.

-Time between classes allows me to go to doctors, dentists, or visa appointments without missing anything important or ruffling anyone’s feathers.

-Plenty of time after work to do what I want and socialize.

-Short commutes make for minimal transportation time and costs (we spend 5$ a week putting gas in the moto)

Here are what I think are the cons of my work day:

-Believe it or not, on days when I only have 2 lessons, I can get pretty bored/lazy and it’s actually way more tiring than teaching all day because the day seems to drag on and on (yeah, I’m ridiculous, I know).

-Even if I finish classes by 10:10 (Fridays), I have to stay at school until at least 3:00.

 

What is your daily schedule like? Do you find you have a lot of free time? What do you think are the advantages/disadvantages to the teaching schedule in Thailand? How does this differ from teaching English in other countries? Let me know in the comments!

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