Classroom pranks and bewildering student names were a regular part of my day and as a teacher I was constantly reminded of the challenge, unpredictability and the satisfaction of the job.
I was a few minutes late when I walked into a class one morning and the students (fourteen-year old’s) were rampaging. Running across the desktops, throwing bags and books and being really noisy.
Throw him out the window
Just as I put my bag on my desk to attempt to gain control, two of the biggest boys picked up a small student and dropped him out of the open window. Everyone stopped to watch my reaction. It became very quiet.
The classroom was on the fourth floor and my immediate thought was “He’ll be dead for sure”. I took a deep breath and willed myself to walk slowly and calmly over to the window. The class watched intently.
I leaned down and here was this little troublemaker lying on a concrete ledge about a half a metre down – with a huge grin on his face. I stood up, gently closed the wooden window shutters and walked slowly back to resume the class.
Within seconds there was a timid tapping on the shutters and a muffled voice “Teacher- can I come back in?”
I asked one of the class to open the shutters and he was helped back into the room. The remainder of the class went remarkably quietly. A stark contrast from how it began.
Identical twins and names that don’t work well together
Just about every Thai person has a nickname by which they are known informally. This is given to them by their parents at birth. Thai parents take inspiration from a wide variety of sources.
Names based on someone’s appearance at birth are common. As are sports events, types of aircraft and cars and things found in nature. And other names that you have no idea what Mum and Dad were thinking.
At and It were identical twin boys about 14 years old. Yes – that’s right. At and It.
They always sat next to each other and swapped seats almost every class (I think).
They dressed exactly the same. Same hair style. Even when they spoke they sounded the same. After 16 weeks, I still had no idea which one was At and which one was It.
In the early days, I’d try and guess. I’d look at the twin I thought was At, direct my question to him and invariably the other twin would answer. In the end, I resorted to saying “the next question is for… At”. Then I’d studiously read the question and not look up until one of them started to answer. Problem solved.
Oil and Water also sat next to each other. I very quickly realised that they absolutely did not get along with each other. Couldn’t stand each other. Why would they?
So, I moved Oil over to sit next to Benz and placed Nam (the Thai word for water) next to Water.
Jet, Champ and Win sat together and were quite disruptive so I moved Jet next to Golf and Win next to Mint. Champ stayed put and I moved Ping Pong next to him. Worked well.
I usually had plenty to smile about on the long bus ride home after school each day.