Kyla is sharing with us her busy and admirable daily routine in Thailand!
A Little Bit About Me:
Hi everyone! My name is Kyla Garvey and I am a TEFL Teacher who is currently teaching English to children in Thailand. I have been teaching for a couple of months so far and I love it so much over here. If you would like to learn a little bit more about me, you can check out this blog or the video below.
Teaching English in Thailand – What it’s like:
For the past two years, amid the constant changes and uncertainties caused by COVID-19, everyday life has changed no matter where you are around the world. Thailand, a top destination for work and travel, is no exception. If you’re looking to teach in Thailand, look no further. I am here to give you a look at what your daily routine in Thailand could be like if you come to teach here.
I teach at a kindergarten school that is divided into three grades. Currently, I teach the youngest grade which is composed of three and four-year-olds. Their energy and enthusiasm for learning English make the job extremely rewarding. It is not only their eagerness to learn but seeing the effects of my teaching on these young learners whose brains are super absorbent during this time of development. Because of their age and the size of the school, the majority of my time teaching here in Thailand has been in person. However, this does not eliminate the likelihood of teaching online.
Teaching online is a possibility. It is likely you will not be teaching online the entire time you are in Thailand. At my school, I have only taught online for three weeks, but my friends who teach at bigger schools have had to teach online for longer periods of time. Where I teach we are required to take an At Home Testing Kit (ATK) test (provided by the school) every week. If someone tests positive, we transition to online. Although juggling teaching online and in person may create some uncertainty, you are guaranteed to gain more experience teaching over different platforms. This is extremely helpful in developing desired skills in our online world.
Teaching online and teaching in-person leave me with very different daily schedules, so I will share with you what my daily routine in Thailand is like when I go to school versus when I teach through Zoom.
In-Person Daily Routine in Thailand
I am the farthest thing from a morning person, so on days where I have to be at school early I wake up around 6:30. I do this in order to give myself enough time to fully wake up before I have to get out of bed. Then I make breakfast, wash my face, get dressed and head out the door for my fifteen-minute walk to school. Sometimes, if I am more tired than usual, I stop at one of the local cafes. It has gotten to the point where all I do is walk in and they start making my order before I can ask for it. Not a bad thing in my opinion.
We are expected to be at school between 8:00 am – 8:30 am. I enjoy getting there at 8:00 because I get to spend more time with my students in the morning. Before classes start they have about 30 minutes of free time and breakfast. At 8:30 am the students say their pledge, do stretches and sing some interactive songs. Then it’s time to start the day!
I teach two classes a day. One is from 9:00 am – 10:10 am and one from 10:10 am – 11:20 am. Each day it rotates which class I teach first. Now I know that seems like a long time to teach three-year-olds. An hour and 10 minutes?! The classes actually don’t last that long. I usually teach for 45-50 minutes, then the students take a bathroom break and head to the next class. The same time frame goes for the second class. With the extra time we have at the end of both classes, the students are given free time to play or read before lunch time!
When I teach my English class I start off with two English songs that the students enjoy singing and dancing to. Then I go over class rules and divide the students into teams. The teams make class extra exciting because they can earn points through good behaviour and win stickers at the end of class. Next, I introduce the vocabulary before we play a game or do an activity that allows the students to actively engage in practising the terms. After the vocabulary activity is over, we open the correlating page in their notebook for them to colour. Before they are finished they have to tell me what they learned that day.
Now the students get to eat! Once all the students have sat down at their seats, I announce what lunch is and the students repeat after me. Then they say thank you to their teachers and wai (a traditional greeting in Thailand) before they start eating. After they are done they brush their teeth and get ready for nap time.
After lunch, it’s nap time. No not for me (I wish) but for the kids! After helping the students get into their pyjamas, drink their milk and tuck them in I have around an hour and a half for lunch and planning. During this time I eat lunch with my fellow teachers. Since I am a pescatarian, I can not always eat the school meals. On the days I can not, I walk to a small cafe down the street and grab some food there. After lunch is finished, I use the rest of my free time to assign homework, write student reports that are due to the parents every two weeks and complete my lesson plans.
The students start to wake up. Now we have to help them get dressed into their afternoon outfit and re-do the girls’ hair from their bedheads. Since it is getting close to the end of the year, during this time I have been giving speaking exams to the students one at a time to see what they remember from the second half of the year.
For the next hour, I spent the time back in the classroom with the students. While snack time is always consistent, our afternoon activities change from day to day. Some days the students play games or are out on the playground. On other days when the pollution outside is poor, we stay inside watching educational videos or reading books.
This is when the students get ready to go home. For me, since I am new at the school, I just have to stay until 3:30 pm and then I can go home. I use this time to plan and prepare activities for the next day. However, teachers with seniority can pick up an extra class at the end of the day for those students who are signed up for extra classes. These teachers get paid extra for these classes and only stay until 4:00 p.m. The students can also have other types of extracurriculars, like Taekwondo, ukulele practice or art. Don’t worry though! They bring in experts for these classes. If I were to teach extra, it would only be more English classes.
This is around the time I get home on the days I do not tutor. My afternoon schedule all depends on the day. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, if I have the energy, I go play volleyball with a group I found through Facebook. Other days I take the time to unwind by doing yoga, writing and wandering around finding what I want to eat for dinner.
Most of the food markets are near malls so sometimes I “accidentally” end up clothes shopping. Not all of these places are within walking distance, so to save a little extra cash I have learned how to use the bus lines in my area. It might seem intimidating at first but there is no shortage of people who will help you get to where you need. Also, at the end of the day, it will save you a lot, especially if you end up living in Bangkok.
By this time I hope to be home so I can get plenty of rest for the next day!
Online Daily Routine in Thailand
Even though classes don’t start for an hour, I like to give myself time to wake up so I am full of energy for the students when they join me in our Zoom classes. My morning routine pretty much stays the same as in-person days, just a little later.
This is when I “go” to work. I am not required to go to school but I find I focus better when I am in a professional environment. I take a short walk to school, log into the computers 10 minutes before my first class and open the Zoom exactly at 9:40 am.
After my first class is completed I have forty minutes until my next Zoom class. I use this time to edit and plan future lessons I have to teach, this includes my private tutoring sessions. I also send a recording of the first lesson to all of the parents in case their child is not able to make it to class that day.
This is the start time of my second class. Zoom classes are only thirty minutes long. We have to take into consideration the attention span of a three-year-old as well as their parents’ working schedules. After this class, I am free for the rest of the day. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I tutor at 4:00 pm. On the other days, I explore or get my chores done so my weekends are the most free they can be.
Whether I am teaching online or in person my days are a mix of structure and spontaneity. No day is the same despite the similarities. The adventure does not stop there! On the weekends I continue to explore whether it’s café hopping a tour my friends recommended or even a bus ride outside the city to a new location to explore. I hope this gives anyone wondering what it is like to teach in Chiang Mai a better idea of what your daily life in Thailand could be if you decide to come teach here!
If you enjoyed this blog, you can check out my friend Aneeqa’s blog where she talks about her daily routine in Thailand as an English teacher too. Our days are varied because we teach at different schools, so you don’t want to miss out on hearing what her day is like! Read it HERE.