Duty

Everyone on our staff has to do “duty” every six days. Last year, it was more like twice a month, but now with added duty posts and fewer teachers, it comes out to almost every week. There are four posts, and it is very unclear what we are supposed to do at each one, but we know that we have to be there from 7AM-7:50 and 4:30PM-6. Here is what I do know:

1. At the Front Gate, two teachers sit at a desk and must greet all who enter the gates of the school. This includes wai-ing to parents (the ubiquitous Thai bow) after they have bowed to us (since we’re in the higher position as teachers, at least in the school setting), and making sure that students wai to us. When they don’t, we’re technically supposed to stop them from walking past and ask them to wai. Sometimes I do this because I know that the point is to encourage the continuation of an importance aspect of Thai culture; but sometimes I don’t because I feel a little awkward as a foreigner requiring Thai students to do something that they know I wouldn’t ordinarily expect. They tend to do a sort of half-wai-half-wave thing to say hello to me. And when they do wai correctly, I go the positive reinforcement route by thanking them specifically for wai-ing.

2. At the Playground post, one teacher sits at a desk and watches kids play on the play structure, run around it, and generally have a lovely time playing without rules. Why? Because there are no playground rules. Kids can run on slippery tile, run on the play structure, go any direction on the slide, and hit one another with wild abandon. So having someone on duty is sort of strange. I often will tell students to stop beating each other up, but generally I just sit there watching and flinching at every dangerous move. Because we never know which post we’re going to get, there’s really no point in trying to establish and/or enforce rules because they will not be enforced the same way by all teachers. How about a sign, you say? Someone tried that; running in the hallways is still widely permitted.

3. The Basketball Court is where one is likely to be eaten alive by mosquitos because the teacher on duty sits on a bench surrounded by moist, tall grass. We’re required to watch kids play basketball. That is all.

4. The new post, the 4th Floor post is the most pointless. The 4th floor is the high school level in our school building, and high school here is in no way like my high school experience. I could see why at Amador we had yard duties making sure we didn’t smoke weed or fight or steal stuff or make-out; here, I’m supposedly watching for similar offenses (maybe just kissing and pushing), but one just gets a sense, quite instantaneously, that these are some seriously sheltered kids. I doubt I’ll see more than a slap on the back. As I sit here on the 4th floor, I would also like to add that there are mosquitos here too, as evidenced by the two welts on my calf. It’s probably because I opened the window to let some air into the stifling hot and humid hallway where no AC vents reach. Catch-22 anyone?

Here is a picture of the hallway I am currently supervising:

hallway

 

And here is a view outside the window that’s behind me (just so you can see the purple building across from our school):

view

 

So I guess this 4th Floor post is the best, considering that I’m taking pictures and writing a blog post. Plus, rumor has it I can leave at 5:15, instead of at 6:00. It’s important to note that all of the duties we have at duty are 100% hear-say. No one from the administration has ever given any indication of what is actually expected of us. All I know is that I have to sign in to prove I was here. It appears that having a warm body in strategic positions is the goal, and they have certainly accomplished that.

It’s 5:20, so I’m out of here. I’ve seen a total of three students walk past. My commute can take over an hour when I leave after 5:00, so I should get started on my journey!

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