In typical Thai fashion, I found out about Teacher Appreciation Day the night before the ceremony. Which was fine because I went as a spectator.
Teacher Appreciation Day, also known as Wan Wai Kru, is usually held on the first Thursday in June (around 1 month after the start of the new school year). My school celebrated the second Thursday of June, but a Thursday nonetheless. Thursday is a very important day because it’s the day of “wisdom.”
My school did multiple ceremonies which were broken into a few grades at a time. Pre-k, Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade, 3rd and 4th, and so on. I envisioned the student body standing outside for 2 hours melting away. Friendly weather report: we’re averaging a heat index of 111ºF every day. The humidity alone makes you think you’re going to suffocate. To my happy surprise, we were in a huge air-conditioned auditorium, in a building I didn’t know existed at my school. Ya learn something new everyday.
After a quick rehearsal with my Co-Teacher, we were on our way to the ceremony. We entered the auditorium and each class was split – boys on the right and girls on the left. Then, they pulled teachers onto the stage to sit behind the head Director of the school. Class by class, two students (one boy and one girl) walked up to the stage, and shuffled towards the Director on their knees with their heads down. After a formal exchange with the Director where they asked for his blessing over their studies, the students moved to the other side of the stage and eventually back to their seats.
I wish I could explain in more detail what exactly was said and what the songs meant but everything was in Thai. The Thai teachers that were not on stage were busy trying to control hyperactive students so I wasn’t able to ask them to translate and explain.
However, it was a great experience.
Lately, I’ve had a tough time getting back into the swing of teaching. Having 2.5 months off from school, traveling to Northern Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, and of course having Sean here has not helped getting out of my “vacation brain.”
Last year, I grew very close to my students and really took pride in their milestones. This year, my mind hasn’t been in the same place. I am more homesick than usual and I’m planning a huge backpacking trip. So mentally, I haven’t committed to teaching like I did in the past. Teacher Appreciation Day changed that for me.
When we were lining up to walk to the auditorium, my students weren’t in a straight line, they weren’t quiet, they didn’t keep their hands to themselves, and they didn’t care. I didn’t stop them and try to correct their natural 6 year old behavior. They were so happy and full of life. There were multiple classes that stood like robots and it made me sad for them. They would say, “good morning Teacher Kayt,” and then look away from me. My students would scream, “TEACHER KAYT! I CAN DANCE!” followed with The Macarena.
So, while I haven’t given them 100% mentally, they’ve given me 110%. When I can’t wait to go home for the day, they grab on to me and say, “Good bye Teacher Kayt! See you tomorrow!” (all things I’ve taught them). And during the ceremony when everyone was misbehaving, I gave them one look and immediately they folded their hands together, straightened their line, and stopped talking. Other students were pushing each other, kicking, and talking, but mine sat there and paid attention. I’m either REALLY scary or they respect me as their Teacher. That was the turning point for me. I was beaming with pride!
Now, I have 3.5 months left in the term and I am going to make the best of this time together.