Within a week of arriving here, we realized that my plans were not going to cut for the circumstances. While my plans are good for me; they do not translate well into a second language for a trainee who has never before taught in this style. There was also the issue of grade 8; another 5 hours of classroom time each week. Things got complicated. We were beginning to average 20 hour days and all of us felt depressed and snappy. Van shouted from pure frustration in class and I took to spending alone time in the newly-built toilet. One teacher trainee’s English declined dramatically while the other one ran, skipped and puffed for miles to vent his introverted stress. None of us were sleeping and we were all trying to wear a happy facade which was quickly slipping away. It was not good.
Our choice seemed straightforward to our sleep addled brains; grade 8 were learning. Volunteer teachers didn’t seem to be. Why waste time and energy on students who don’t seem motivated and are only present in class under the sufferance of the omnipresent monk? We thought that the new teacher would be a great substitute for our trainee.
In part it is the fault of Van and I.
We were hasty to advise the removal of one of our trainees. He had told the monk that he wanted to teach English to grade 7 in order to improve his own English. However, Van and I considered this to be a somewhat backwards proposal. We think that his own English needs improving before he is able to sensibly teach it to anyone else. Grade 7 have had the rough end of whatever deal is being made. My other trainee doesn’t want to tell the monk that the last lesson that the students received was on Saturday. It is now Tuesday. I think that is telling. My trainee wants the volunteer teachers to have a break.
NEH Coordinator and Teacher Trainer