The other day after classes I went outside the school and ordered a snack. There were a number of students who had already ordered ahead of me. I waited.

After I’d waited a while the vendor made a comment about my patience. He wondered that I didn’t tell him to serve me, the teacher, before the students. I told him I didn’t mind waiting my turn.

He responded by saying that foreigners like to wait in line. I’m not sure that I like waiting in lines, but I do think the system of lines is better than people pushing each other around.

He went on to say something that particularly caught me; he said, “Thai people do not like to wait in line. They prefer to cut the line. If they cannot cut the line, they will try to buy the line.”

Written by Micah in: Thailand | Tags: ,


Yesterday I copied a math problem from a textbook onto a test. Today as I was grading the test, I discovered that the geometry of the triangles (as drawn in the textbook) was impossible. As a result students’ answers varied depending on their process.

Should you ever decide to write a textbook, please make sure your geometry works out.

On a lighter note, having had chili dogs on their sign since I arrived in Ubon, the Dairy Queen in Big C now actually sells chili dogs!

Written by Micah in: Thailand | Tags:

Swine Flu

The infamous flu has made its way not only to Ubon, but to the school where I teach. As a result the school is closing for a week. The student reaction is very mixed. Some are quite scared. Others couldn’t be more thrilled to get some extra days off school.

I have a sore throat. I think it is just from overuse of my voice.

Written by Micah in: Thailand | Tags: ,

Wai Kru Day วันไหว้ครู

Today is Wai Kru Day at my school. It is a day when students show their respect to their teachers. I don’t know if my ego is getting way too large, or if I am adjusting to the culture, but this year it didn’t feel as strange to have all my students bowing down to me with their faces to the floor.

I was deeply touched when a large group of students from last year came over to my building and presented me with flowers and asked for my blessing. It was much more meaningful than the main school-wide ceremony. That ceremony was mandatory. The smaller, more intimate exchange of blessings was something my students chose to do, they wanted to show their respect for me.

I also had a group of students present me with flowers during lunch, and another group present me with flowers after school.

It was a neat day.

The only weird thing was noticing that for the school-wide ceremony the boys in each homeroom presented their teacher with an elaborate candle. The girls presented an elaborate flower or cup of scented water.

Written by Micah in: Thailand | Tags:


At the school where I teach grades are submitted both in hard copy and digitally. Both seem unnecessarily cumbersome. The hard copy of the grades is a multiple paged book that includes daily attendance, behavior scores, standardized testing scores, unit scores for first semester, mid term scores (broken down into unit scores), unit scores for second semester, and final scores (also broken down into unit scores). All of these must be in the proper format.

What that format is, is difficult to determine. I thought I had found the answer when I found values for all the columns in a school wide syllabus dated this year. If only it were that easy. Sometime between the publishing of the syllabus (I think I received it in August) and now, the point breakdown for the final changed from 4,4,4,3 to 3,4,4,4.

Why they decided to decrease the weight of the first unit, while decreasing the weight of the last unit, is more than I know. When they decided to make the change, is also beyond my knowledge. How I was supposed to know, is beyond fathoming.

The point value per unit must match for all classes with the same course code because all the grades are fed into some computer in the dark depths of the registrar building, and the computer demands numbers for every unit, and it demands that the numbers for those units be uniform within a given course number.

The process of getting the grades into the mysterious computer in the dark depths of the registrar building is at least as painful as filling in the grade book.

The process begins with the journey to acquire the diskette (yes I said diskette, not flash drive). The difficulty of this quest varies. Last semester I was sent to the math building, where I was told that the diskette for my class was in use. I was asked to come back later. I came back later, it was in use by another teacher. I gave them my phone number so they could call when the diskette was free. I got a call the next day.

This semester the hunt for the diskette was relatively painless. The registrar made me my own diskette. This process only took about fifteen minutes!

Once the diskette is acquired, one must dig up a computer with a slot to stick a diskette into. That done, one must boot the computer from the disk. Then navigate through menus all in Thai to find the various pages where you key in all the unit grades for each of your students.

I’m sure DOS had a place. I’m am not at all convinced that DOS has a place.

There is no copying and pasting from your Excel grade book. Each grade must be keyed in. The inefficiency of keying in something that already exists in digital form drives me nuts.

Written by Micah in: Thailand | Tags:

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