My time teaching in an infant school in Thailand was an eye-opening experience. We had to get a short boat ride everyday to an island called Samchong to get to the school. Some of the very young children on the island cried at the sight of us! This was due to the fact that they had never seen someone with different colour skin to their own before. Everyone on the island watched us with interest everyday whilst we walked to and from the school.
The children at the school were very curious towards us and would spend their free time standing by our classroom watching us teach other children. Trying to communicate instructions was sometimes difficult as their English communication skills, and our knowledge of the Thai language, was limited. The children worked very hard and enthusiastically to learn the English language throughout the time we spent with them and we noticed great improvements every day.
The organisation of the school was very different to what I have experienced in England. Our first day at the school consisted of a teacher, who I assume was the head teacher, pointing to a classroom (a room with a chalk board, bare walls, old computer style desks and patio chairs) and saying “You…teach!”. We entered the room, not knowing what P Level the children were, wide-eyed and feeling unprepared. The warm welcome we received from the children relaxed me enough to go and ask the teacher what level the children in the classroom were. He told me the children were two levels below what they actually were, so the children quickly grasped what we were teaching them! We didn’t know what time lessons ended or started on the first day and trying to ask an eight year old Thai child, who spoke little English, what time the lesson ended was easier than I expected!
Throughout the time we spent at Ban Samchong we had little communication with other teachers and it seemed like the children didn’t either! Most of the lessons, other than our English speaking class, were carried out by the children sitting and copying from a television in a classroom with no teacher present.
It was a fantastic experience volunteering in the school. The children’s kind, caring natures made my time teaching in Thailand an unforgettable experience. I hope that the children continue wanting to learn and receive a good quality education that children all over the world deserve to receive.
I returned just over a week ago from working in Salou as a children’s entertainer. I would like to say it was exactly as I imagined but it wasn’t. Although each day consisted of your average eight hour working day, with a split shift to ensure you had time for a little but necessary siesta, every day was demanding. Similarly to the way teaching is but in a much different context and environment. I worked in a hotel called ‘Festival Village’ which catered for the all inclusive guest. The days consisted of a packed schedule of children’s activities at the kids club. We worked 11am-3pm in the earlier hours of the day and 8pm-12pm in the evenings. Every day consisted of a different running theme for example we had pirate day, Disney princess day (which we adapted to Disney day), science day, safari day, x-factor day, sports day and Spanish day. As you can imagine there was lots to take part in and we catered for a range of ages down at the kids club. Some children young who had to be reminded not to press on to hard with the felt tips (which was a reoccurring issue) and some older who you could enjoy a conversation with and where wise before their years.
All children had one thing in common, that they were there to have fun. This sometimes meant that you had to be silly and think on the spot. The hardest thing for me was not being in control of the children. When teaching this is one of the many things you have to be able to do. However when in the kids club I had to try my best to remember that I did not need to control the children. Okay at points the children needed to be told to take care when using the resources. The kids club also called on your imagination, sometimes if we had older children we finished the activities earlier and would need to think of games to play. Obviously when teaching you teach an age group therefore all children are the same age and like similar things. However when running the kids club you are in charge of a range of ages, all with different backgrounds and from different places (and a lot of the time different countries) and you must come up with ideas to entertain them. My favourite games included drip drip drench, corners and jockey donkey surf.
Throughout my experiential placement I took to the stage for kids fun time which happened every night at half past eight. It would usually be hosted by one of my colleagues Roxanne or Jack and we would lead dances on the stage and play games. All of the dances included dance moves where the children could join in and often resulted in us being very warm and looking silly. For me this was the best part of the day, at the beginning of the placement I worried too much on getting the moves right however towards the end of the placement the focus changed to having fun and I started to enjoy my time on stage. I would then have the children for the rest of the night down at the kids club for any children who wanted to watch a film. I took a lot from my experience working in Salou and I know I can use many of the skills gained in my teaching career. I led most of the daytime sessions with the help of my colleague and friend Roxanne and this gave me a new perspective of how to interact with children in an entertaining environment.
This year, the start of my summer began with volunteering for two weeks in Ghana. The main purpose of the trip was to gain experience working with children in a school setting and this was made possible with the company I went with, Original Volunteers.
My first week consisted of working with a class of children, ranging from ages 7-10 years at a school called Lisa Finlay. On the first day, myself and other volunteers were immediately asked to teach the classes. It quickly became apparent the children attending the school were all wiling to learn and their appreciation for the smallest of things. The main subjects the children were taught were English, Maths and Science. The classroom resources were very limited with just use of a blackboard and chalk to teach the children. The resources we brought from home became extremely valuable during our time at the school to assist with using different methods to teach the children. Before leaving for Ghana, I used some of the money I raised to buy basic stationary such as exercise books, pens, pencils, rubbers and sharpeners. The majority of these were given to children in my class who had none of these materials which will now enable them to note their learning and complete activities and homework assigned by their teachers. I found these children were grateful for these and other children also wanted new exercise books to write in. During their break times, the children really enjoyed the materials volunteers provided. One of their favourite activities was to chase bubbles.
For my second week, I decided to volunteer at Sunrise school. This school has received a lot of support from Original Volunteers over the previous years in terms of sending volunteers and raising funds to supply them with a new school building. Again, during my time here I team taught Maths, English and Science with other volunteers to children ranging from 6-11 years. Similar materials were available at this school, however greater access to text books were there if needed. I donated the remainder of my resources bought to this school. This included, crayons, felt tips and workbooks for teachers to use to obtain new activities to use with their class.
Every Wednesday afternoon, the company would alternate visits to poorer communities in need of support. This programme was referred to as Out Reach. I experienced this once during my time in Ghana. Here I donated some toys and money toward buying basics for the community, such as rice, soap and a generator to allow them some power. This was an eye opening experience because we were able to observe their way of life.
Finally, there was a local library in the town where my accommodation was. I spent a couple of afternoons volunteering here, reading to the children and helping with crafts. I donated fiction books I had collected before heading to Ghana. The children especially enjoyed using the colouring books.
Overall, this opportunity provided me with brilliant experience to assist with my future teaching career. The majority of the Eleanor Peel Trust Fund money was used toward my several injections and flights, which was beneficial in supporting my funds to allow my trip to go ahead. In the future, it has inspired me to help raise money to send further resources to the schools to support the teachers and children. Both schools visited wanted to raise money to help toward purchasing a printer for the teachers to use to access worksheets and support materials.
I undertook a two-week trip to Pakistan to compliment my studies. This was an exciting opportunity to see how education is delivered to children in a complete different country including the atmosphere in the school setting. This also allowed me to develop my own personal skills, such as my communication skills with people where English is not a first language. While in Pakistan I visited two different schools. The first school I attended was the Chenab School, where the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Kushnood gave me the opportunity to visit each and every classroom and during this time I worked with small groups. I also had the privilege of working alongside the teacher in delivering the lessons.
In addition I also visited the Jinnah Public School which included a nursery, primary, secondary and college. During my time at this school I conducted lectures to senior students about the education system in England, this was then followed by questions and answers time. At the same time of helping and delivering information to students I was also learning about the education system in Pakistan. In both schools I had the opportunity to speak to both principals as a student ambassador for University of Cumbria to promote links between the two establishments.
Furthermore when I helping and teaching I was implementing strategies that are used in the schools in England, whereas in Pakistan it was something new, for example think – pair – share. This was a great method used when teaching and it was complimented by the staffs. During this experience I and the school staffs in Pakistan were exploring information and the different strategies used in both countries. On my visits to schools I took my laptop which was stored with a variety of activities, resources and lessons plans which was used in class and outside of class.
This was a fantastic experience which has benefited me enormously both academically and personally.