I’m trying not to lose my patience with high schoolers, but it’s happening. It’s nearing the end of the year, and they’re just as eager to finish school as I am. Their anti-learning mentalities don’t mix well with my readiness to stuff my backpack and hit the road again, but we’re all making do and showing up to class (at least half the time).
Walking into a room full of sugar-high children literally bouncing off the walls sends me straight into strict teacher mode. The first words I hear, even before the unified “good morning, teacher” (which has become half-hearted and apathetic) are “teacher, go home?” or “play game!”
If asking them politely to sit down and be quiet doesn’t work, I immediately begin using the only advantage I have in this language barrier: talking loud and fast, saying whatever comes to mind with full confidence that they won’t have a clue what I’m saying.
I usually yell a lot of promises I know I can’t keep, such as, “If you shitheads don’t shut up and listen, I’m going to mark you all absent and give you zeros!” If you read Paper Politics, you know I can’t actually do this.
But nothing irritates me more than when I ask a student to do something and he looks me in the eye and says, “no.” As much as I want them to learn English, it’s then that I’m glad they don’t understand it, because the worst of our beloved language comes out of my smiling mouth.
“Mai khao jai,” they say. (I don’t understand).
“Good,” I reply.
I believe my words are much kinder than the wrath I’ve seen some of the Thai teachers unleash, and the students actually understand those! Plus, I’m not hitting them on the head or smacking them with a stick (as much as I’d like to), so I think I’m entitled to a few bursts of aggravation that serve absolutely no purpose other than making myself feel better.