Tomorrow, it's back to school for week two of the new term. I teach a total of about 300 students. ALL of them got 'homework' assignments to watch English Breakfast on Thai PBS this morning. Having a cameo role on a relatively little-known show on public broadcasting won't exactly make me a celebrity, but it will be interesting to see if whether or not this appearance on the teevee will effect my credibility in the classroom. Students won't learn from teachers they don't respect, and as well as being a nice thing to add to my CV as a teacher, appearing on national television might do wonders for my 'classroom cred'.
As an 'ajarn farang', in the minds of most of these kids, I get bulked in with the dozen or two other foreign teachers they've had. I'm a person they can barely understand, can't talk to them in their own language and not really a teacher worthy of the kind of respect they give their real (Thai) teachers. Thank God I usually have a Thai co-teacher in every one of my classes else complete chaos would be the norm instead of happening on occasion.
Being a bit older than their usual ajarn farang, I do get a bit more respect than I otherwise would. Coming into this gig, someone I love and respect told me that teaching class in not like open-mic night. If I approached teaching as being an entertainer, I wouldn't garner the authority I need to maintain control in a room full of 40 13-year-old boys. I've seen that and understand it first-hand now. That said, over the course of this last half year, I think 90% of my students look forward to my time teaching them. The get excited and interested when I enter the room because I'm going to be engaging, unpredictable and yes... entertaining.
What makes a good ajarn farng? Seems to be a theme recently here on my blog, so it's kind of fitting that it was the question that Bro and Home Boy asked of their victims... errr.. interviewees.
I can't seem to find a URL that will allow me to embed the video here in my blog, so I ask you to please click the link below to visit ebgang.net to view the wonderful teleplay written by my friend Bobby. I think he had me in mind when he came up with the character of an ukulele-playing NES teacher. (I appear at about 10:00 into the vid, so be patient).
As I mentioned here a few weeks back, it's been a lifelong goal of mine to be on TV. I don't mean in a crowd shot at a sporting event or because of some unique circumstances or characteristics, I mean as an actor. Now, I've done it. Do I feel any different?
Yeah, a little. I feel a little bit more experienced, mature. I feel more accomplished, recognized.
Heck, I'm driving through this life with not that much sense of direction or purpose; if I can find a smooth patch of road here or there, might not be as exciting, but certainly a lot nicer to drive down.