Amber McCarthy Testimonial
Amber McCarthy's Testimonial
A big part of determining how much you'll like Surat is where you were before you came here. If you were in some huge city with lots of traffic and most of your day was spent being bored in an air- conditioned room, then you'll probably love it here. If you're coming from a small gorgeous town with lots of outdoor activities and you're used to living a block from the ocean and the likes of Pebble Beach and Big Sur, then Surat will not look so great. That being said, I didn't come here to enjoy Surat. I came here to teach and to travel and with Super, that's what I've done.
I mention this because I have enjoyed the autonomy that this job has allowed me. I show up in the morning, chit chat with Cru Sao (the head teacher), go to my classes, eat lunch with Cru Sao, go to a few more classes, and then I go home. Nobody is there to micromanage my time or my work. I love that beyond reason. I’m a very independent person and I don’t like to be told what to do because I know I’m capable of getting the job done without outside stimulus. I’m self-driven, if you will. Having the schedule that I have has been so incredibly stress free it’s borderline ridiculous. My biggest stressors with jobs back home have always been having lunatic managers that are constantly micromanaging my time and not trusting their capable employees to get the job done. Here, I don’t have that stress because I never even see them except for when Peter throws a teacher party. It’s the perfect situation for me.
The downside to this arrangement is that many times I was out of the communications loop. I was constantly finding out things too late or never even being informed because important information about events and schedules was only announced or posted at Old Thida. You tend to be forgotten at New Thida, which ends up being good and bad. I finally brought this to the attention of the people at Old Thida and Brittany ended up addressing this by creating an online calendar and sending out regular email updates. So needless to say, with Brittany around conditions have improved. Thanks Britt!
The next best thing about this job is definitely the kids. It’s insanely overwhelming and intimidating when you first get here. I didn’t know how I was going to even start to teach 55 kids, let alone get them all to listen to me. 55 is a ridiculous amount of 1st graders. I won’t lie, the first week or so was nuts. I wasn’t confident and everything was new. It wasn’t nuts in a students going crazy sort of way. It was more like “Holy crap, what am I going to do with them?”
At home, I’m a credentialed teacher with an English Language Authorization. Basically, that means I’m trained and able to teach a class that has some non-native English speakers. Having that background has definitely been advantageous because I’ve worked with students learning English. It’ s helped me with teaching techniques and classroom management. However, it did not prepare me to teach only English to all non-English speaking students. This is where SE staff comes in. To get me started I got a few ideas for games and then went from there. Once you have a few types of games under your belt, it gets so easy.
I learned quickly which games worked marvelously and which failed miserably. This gave me the ability to quickly modify lessons that were bombing and make them successful. Many of my best games I invented mid-lesson because something would come to me while trying to explain a target. Most of the games that I do week-to-week, I came up with in the classroom when my original plans were not working out. Trial and error. When you do eventually exhaust your games, other teachers are available to offer suggestions for games that work for them. You try them out, modify them, make them work for you target and your class, and voila! Target complete. Again, I do need to thank Brittany for being an endless source of great games.
As long as I kept my students excited about the games, they were attentive and progressed beyond what I thought possible. During the year, I never really stopped to think about how much my students had learned from me. Sure, I was seeing their good test scores every week, but you don’t really notice the improvement because it’s so gradual. It was when I took a minute to think back to the beginning of the year and how some of my classes didn’t have the faintest idea what I was saying to them, it’s incredible to see how far they’ve come. All because of me, their teacher! That has been such a rewarding thing to experience.
While I don’t get any sort of feedback on anything, the student’s success is really the best measure of your success. It’s not like jobs back home where there is someone there to critique you and tell you what you did wrong or right. I had a 15-minute observation a few weeks into the first semester, but otherwise that was it. Thai people aren’t usually inclined to tell you how things are going, so you’ll just have to determine that on your own. I was lucky enough to have Cru Sao as a friend and she told me a few times that I was a really good teacher based on what the Thai teachers told her. That was a good feeling coming from her.
Outside of teaching, the next best thing about coming here was for the travel. Having all of October off allowed us to travel to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat), Northern Laos, take a slow-boat up the Mekong back into Thailand to visit Chiang Mai, and then finally ending up in Phuket. If you save your money and spend it wisely when you do go on trips, you’ll find that this job can offer you a lot in the way of vacationing. When we leave for good in a few short days, we’ll still have enough money to see more of Thailand, go to Bali for 9 days, and then go to New Zealand for 2 weeks before heading home. If my dad didn’t offer to pay to get us home, we’d spend our bonuses on getting home, but since he is we’ll also be taking home a decent chunk of money. We would have never been able to save that much and visit that many places working back in the US. I’m thankful that we were able to have these experiences.