by David Beltrame
As a teacher in Asia, I’m sure we share the same routine each morning: wake up, bathe, get computer, have breakfast, get to work and BANG! You are inundated with students from young and old shouting “HELLO TEACHER!” Then there’s the emails, quick meetings, plans to make for lessons, special events, people coming over and wanting to talk to you – the list goes on and on!
Don’t get me wrong; this is one of the best career choices others and I alike have ever made. I certainly don’t miss the office hours of 9-5 every week, yet I cannot help but think other positions may be easier.
Even if you prepare for a lesson or event within an inch of its life, it may be difficult to anticipate for when things go wrong, which in south-east Asia, can be anything from power outages, massive heat, torrential weather and failing technological devices. Sure not ideal, but any job comes with its pitfalls.
What can be done?
Here are some essential things that can be purchased for less than a tenner (of any currency) at a market, book or stationery store to save your bacon where appropriate.
Well truthfully, any balls would be perfect or something to throw around the classroom. Preferably something soft and non-threatening to a student’s ability. As a warming activity, having students eliciting vocabulary or grammar correctly and throwing a ball at a target or the word itself on the whiteboard ensures fantastic teamwork and presents the class enthusiastically before the fun starts. It also breaks the tension for those god-awful grammar lessons.
You wouldn’t be under any scrutiny from an international sporting body if you corrupted the scores to create some further tensions. Word to the wise though, students will always be the harshest critic if they figure it out – good luck.
2. Blindfold / sleeping mask
No, this isn’t some strange bondage act that will occur. Having something to obscure sight may be unnecessary in some cultures, but a fantastic aid in simple games.
Something like learners wearing the eye apparatus to find certain vocabulary flashcards after spinning faster than a tumble drier is always amusing. It also builds confidence for what they can actually achieve in front of a class.
Not only small people who find it difficult to retain food in their mouth, teenagers, adults and examination classes having their eyes not in use to identify various objects using adjectives to describe it through their other senses is always a laugh.
3. Rubik’s Cube
Although this item went from popular to nerdy to popular to nerdy (just in 2016 alone), I believe the final resurrection will be here in the classroom. Do you have any of those students who just need to calm the expletive down? Are They are intelligent, but refuse to behave in the fashion suitable to the classroom? Then why not try the retro toy!
Targeted best for young kinaesthetic leaners, it’s a foundational method available to teach them about colours, shapes and how a fairly primitive edition of technology can work. Also, it’ll get them doing something productive with their hands that won’t resort to violence.
How many times does it have to happen? You’re at the kindergarten or primary school and you left your adapter or cable at home? How many times has an expletive entered your head; thoughts raging like burning effigies, shouting at yourself with no foreseeable plan on what to do?
Simple! Some downloaded videos from Baby Shark to School of Rock, Pingu to Cat’s Countdown (for those older students) can easily be converted through some well-known websites and plugged in a moments notice. Even if it means you have to look like a fool dancing to a child’s song, or giggle at the musing of Jack Black or Jimmy Carr, ensures you have some time to gather your thoughts and think of a new plan of attack.
5. Pack of cards
I know it seems like a bulky choice to keep within a small emergency kit, but countless countries have various card games that are easy to learn. In Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos there are a few variations where players match pairs of the highest value to see who has the upper hand. It’s hilarious to see how serious students can get, but also a fantastic way to pick up some slang language and become closer with members of your class.
Of course, other card games are available, but UNO carries some international understanding. Sure, the debate of whether it is suitable for a person to win a hand on an action card (I personally think it’s immoral) but it demonstrates a student’s ability for forward thinking, critical decision-making and teamwork when one hand is dealt to pairs of students.
I’m sure you yourself have a small treasure-trove of useful ‘must-haves’. I personally found all of these in my local newsagents. Rather purposefully, it is located next to my local pub, the final meeting point for my day – beer – the quintessential tool to keep any teacher happy by weeks end.