It is pretty special being in a school for more than one day, and here’s why:
In the morning the students run to say hello to me when I arrive. They hold my hands and carry my things to the room. They show me the animals. They compliment my hair do and ask me questions about my life in the US.
I also get to see how my suggestions are going in the classroom and give more feedback.
Today Chantana asked me to teach singular and plural English nouns because in the Thai language they don’t have this. They tell the number of the noun or they say the noun and a lot or a little. We will use the actual objects in order to make sure they know what I’m talking about.
I suggested that after the students had the noun lesson they could make a list of nouns as follow up practice.
I also noticed yesterday that there were many students interested in the geometry work once we put it on the shelf. I suggested they teach it.
I also helped them know what kind of paper to have in the room.
This morning I had a tour of the school to see the pigs and chickens with the students. Apparently I need more hands because they all wanted to hold mine while we walked. I think I had 10 hands on my arms.
I helped the teachers set up the classroom, arrange materials and desks, as well as take some materials away that weren’t needed. We talked about keeping the shelves and materials clean and orderly and enlisting the help of the children for this task.
In the afternoon the students begin by meditating.
They have split the class into two groups. Chantana began with a song and then started the Noun lesson. It was so cute to watch the students walk around the room looking for something without a name and bring it to her. It was perfect because we rearranged the room so it was also a way for them to explore where things were placed.
I observed for the afternoon to see the teachers teaching and the children working.
I tried to teach a song about the moon, we will keep working on it.
Today I spent the day at Chantana’s school. They have 48 students in their room with 4 teachers (two trained). They have one teacher for each grade and then another helps. I suggested they split the class in half and have the trained teachers responsible for half (grades 1,2,3) and the other two teachers help. If they had materials for two rooms I would suggest they have two rooms. Maybe in the future.
They have mostly hand made materials and I was very impressed. They made the beads in the bead cabinet, the racks and tubes, the bead frames… wow.
I am noticing that the company that the schools buy the grammar boxes from are not making them correctly with the colors. I will help them fix them tomorrow.
I can tell the teachers enjoy their work, and the children are happy.
I suggested helping the students make more difficult math problems because they have worksheets that are too easy. I also suggested more group work, not individual.
I gave the introductory lesson to the polygon, it was fun to learn the vocabulary and the children enjoyed it. I asked them if they could make a biiiiiiig polygon to inspire more exploration. I had many students watching as well.
I am excited to spend a few more days here supporting this classroom.
On Friday I began my stay with Chantana’s (one of the Montessori teachers) family. They have a small farm around their home which is pretty exciting to see and talk about. They have many fruit trees, and also grow lots of veggies.
They took me to get a Thai massage, which is a little bit like a massage, yoga, chiropractor experience. Amazing. I am in awe of this skill, and so grateful. My back has been hurting since that lonnnnnnnng travel to Thailand and now it feels sabai sabai.
On Saturday we got up before the sun to travel to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. The border is only 1.5 hours away, then we drove about 3 hours to Angkor Wat. It was so strange being a tourist. I really stick out in Sisaket because very few foreigners pass through, but I speak the language and travel with Thai people so it doesn’t feel so touristy (probably because I rarely see any tourists here, though it is a beautiful secret with the mountains, waterfalls, and temples).
Angkor Wat was interesting. It was strange not to speak the language, and it was also funny to translate English from Cambodian people to Thai for the people I was traveling with. I found myself giggling a lot as people from around the world were speaking English.
My students wanted me to see Angkor Wat, they had read about it and seen photos and maybe it was a way to visit vicariously. I also wanted to see this LARGE city of temples (402 acres!!!) built in the 12th century by the Khmer people. Wow, it was amazing. I was amazed by the art built into the structure. Carvings were everywhere and they were beautiful. It was also beautiful to see the plants trying to make a home in the ruins. Oh and, a funny aspect I didn’t know about until I eavesdropped on a tour guide, there are many Buddha figures throughout the main temple but nearly all of the heads are gone. They were stolen in wars!
We walked around the Main temple which is HUGE! It feels like being on a treasure hunt as there are many levels and pathways to go. We also saw the many faces of Buddha temple, which was amazing. There were heads everywhere!
It was so beautiful to see this place, and really many times we were alone which was a peaceful experience. Five hours walking around the historical site was so so so enjoyable. I feel so grateful to have been able to see it up close.
On Sunday we went to Ubon Ratchathani and visited a few Wats (temples) before Chanatana’s uncle’s Buddhist funeral.
Right now the temples are creating giant and ornate wax floats for the candle festival next weekend. I was amazed. About 10 people work on one for two months!
I enjoyed the cultural experience of the funeral. We arrived and about 12 monks were chanting, it was beautiful.
Oh today I am Dee jai, (happy and pleased) this teacher Orathai has a jai Dee (good heart). She is beautiful to watch. She moves around the room giving lessons and observing her students. She is a story teller and I can tell her students love her and learning.
I could tell she loves Montessori and believes in it. After school she teaches the other teachers the lessons, and they are excited about Montessori too. It sounds like there isn’t another course yet for training elementary in Thailand. I think we will need one if we want Montessori in Thailand to grow.
The teachers asked me to show them the bank game after school. I had to review because I haven’t taught it in upper el. It was so much fun and a good practice of Thai numbers, they were just like the children. They clapped when I did the magic slide too. Narak. (Cute)
The head of school was also very excited about Montessori, she is motivated to make it work the best they can.
At the end of the day we met about my workshop next weekend to make a plan.
Feeling inspired after watching such a beautiful Thai Montessori teacher.
Yesterday after the school visit, Manit took me to see the sustainable Buddhist village. I told him about my interest in farming and organic food and so he thought I would enjoy this place.
He was right, was a magical little community. They grow organic food for themselves, and also herbs for making traditional medicine. The woman in charge was so cute and also excited by my interest in learning about them. They are practicing Buddhists and do not eat meat. They also only eat 1-2 meals per day.
I got to see a bit of what they grow, but tomorrow morning I will go back to see more.