Wednesday, November 24, 2010


When it comes to teaching, there is a balance between good feelings and bad; much like the idea of karma in Buddhism, where life and energy seeks balance. (I would like to know if "real" teachers feel the same way).

There are so many students to so few teachers here, it's sort of inevitable that you are going to have bad classes, and it helps to keep your cool if you remember that your oldest student may be 16... But on the other hand, some days it's hard not to get discouraged; some days it feels like your students hate you, they are all mocking you behind you back (or right in front of your face) in Thai, you're not getting through to anybody, they are acting like little punks. Some days every one of your classes goes so bad you wonder "what am I doing here", you straight up want to quit - true story. But then you see that one student - sometimes they aren't even yours - that is sitting all by herself in the breezeway, and she bows to you as you walk by and says "good morning teacha" with a cute little smile on her face, and that seems to outweigh the 100+ students you just had that filled you full of anger, or frustration, or depression. The number of bad students compared to good seems to be very high, but when you do talk to one of your good students it seems to make everything okay. I don't get it, three bad classes in a row - very bad classes - and for some reason you'll have one good class and that outweighs the rest? It's like the universe is always seeking balance, the good feelings sometimes seem fewer and farther between than the bad, but the good feelings are so much stronger.

There other day I gave an assignment to one of my classes towards the end, I told them if they didn't finish, it was home work. Most students were diligently working so they could have no homework - duh right - except for a group of boys in the back screwing around all period. Right at the end of class, as I was trying to leave, they scribbled some crap down (most of it just being what I wrote on the board as an example, or instructions). I said no, and showed them other students work, and said "you need to write more, more more more, you have homework"; they said "no teacha, I do"; "no, all classes you were not working." Back and forth like this for a while, me telling them I need more, all the while students are standing right behind me mocking me saying, "mo mo mo". Students were trying to come up to me and drop the paper in my arms and run away so I couldn't tell them more, they even tried to have their friends give me the same paper when I had handed it back to them. Mostly I was just dropping these papers on the floor, but a few got through (when I saw these later while I was grading, they got zeros). The whole time this shit-show was going on, I had a boy - that wasn't even my student - standing behind me poking me with a 2x2 piece of wood saying "teacha teacha, bang bang" over and over again. When I turned around he said "teacha, gun, bang bang", he was hold the piece of wood like a rifle and was thrusting it at me; he must've been able to tell by the vein on the side of my head popping out that if he didn't turn tail and haul ass he was going to regret it, cause he immediately turned around and took off giggling. Although as I walked away I could still hear him behind me, "teacha, bang bang". I fantasized about ripping that 2x2 out of his hands and whacking him in the side of the head with it...

Not really sure what that story has to do with balance, but something must've made me feel better, because there was no teacher-student murder later that day at Benchama. Anyway it's one more thing to keep in mind here, things seem to have a way of righting themselves.


  1. Hi Jeff, this is Roberta (Travis's mom I'm Facebook spying through Kris's computer). Hang in there buddy. Thing is, that age group is universal, ask any middle school teacher anywhere in the world!!!!. In the long run you will all be better people for having experienced each other but you definitely have to vent or you'd end up going 2X2 postal!!1
    Take care, love you. Roberta

  2. I agree with need to get on your blog and vent. It sounds horrific...and you are a better than me, cause I don't think I could do it. You know your mom...I'd have that kid up against the wall by his neck! Hang in there honey..just think, on the weekends YOU GET TO GO WHERE THERE ARE 500 MILLION BATS FLYING AROUND YOUR HEAD!!! ISN'T THAT WORTH ALL OF YOUR STRUGGLES?!! AAAAHHHH!! I for sure would have killed myself then! =)

  3. Thanks mom, thanks Roberta!

    I will do my best to avoid going 2x2 postal...