What’s With That Desk?! – Thailand
|School: Tantrarak School [Private School]
In the Tantrarak Private School in Pattaya, Thailand, I saw a few things that were different than the majority of other schools but one thing, in particular, stood out: there was a teacher-desk located OUTSIDE of every classroom. I immediately asked why…
First of all, in Thailand, the students do not switch classrooms for their core classes – the teachers do. Second, there’s a lead-teacher in charge of a group of students. The head-teacher is like a class leader that is in charge of students that are disruptive in class by pulling the student out of that class when the incident happens and then, later, contacting the student’s parent(s).
However, in this particular private school, they made one small change that makes a big difference: the desk of the head-teacher is located OUTSIDE of the classroom. Since the students do not switch classrooms throughout the day, then this is the main desk for that particular group of students for any problems that occur. If any of the teachers throughout the day have a problem with a student, then the teacher just sends the student outside the classroom for the head-teacher to take care of. If the lead-teacher is busy teaching another class, (1) the desk is still just outside to send the student to if he/she is misbehaving, and (2) is a place where the teacher knows for sure the lead-teacher will be later that day to inform him/her what has happened.
Also, if a parent needs/wants to come into the building to talk to the lead-teacher about any problems, (1) the parent can easily find the teacher because the desk is directly outside the child’s classroom, and (2) the parents will not be disrupting class.
This is a very different system from that in the U.S.and honestly took a few times of explaining for me to fully understand the logistics… However, I find this system to be amazingly organized, is easy for students to find extra help, is great for classroom discipline, and causes fewer distractions when parents want to casually come in on their free-time to discuss any problems.
Now I know that in the U.S. there are lead-teachers for students that are grouped into teams, but these teachers are basically leading team meetings of teachers and doing most [if not all] of the paperwork… but let’s try to imagine a system where there’s a lead-teacher that is leading more than just a paper trail… Let’s imagine there is a teacher that is leading a team of not just teachers, but students, and parents, and is there for everyone involved… that there is a teacher just waiting outside in the hallway in case his/her fellow teachers inside need help with a particular student. Is this something that can be implemented inU.S.public schools? Is it possible to have a lead-teacher readily available to answer questions for students and/or parents and to help fellow teachers when they’re in need of assistance?
Trying to Implement This System in the U.S.
When I was teaching, other teachers and I would coordinate our disruptive classes with another teacher’s planning period. This way, if I had a student that was being really disruptive and couldn’t handle sitting in the classroom that day, I would automatically know of a classroom [with supervision] to send him/her… and vice versa… during my planning period, I wouldn’t question if a disgruntled student walked into my classroom – I would know exactly which teacher sent him and he would now be under my watch so that the other teacher could teach the other students successfully.
The other teachers and I did this to help each other out and realized that a system like this is really necessary. Unfortunately, it didn’t always work out so smoothly [of course].
Teacher’s planning periods are supposed to be when the teacher has time to sit and do the 213 things on their To-Do List that day… Sadly, planning periods have turned into “the time of day that administration knows the teacher doesn’t have a scheduled class;” which, in turn, turns into when administration wants the teacher to accomplish an additional 50 things [which more often than not can’t be done in the classroom… like a meeting or coverage of another teacher’s class]. Because of this, it’s close to impossible to be able to coordinate with other teachers and have a place to send students if the teacher isn’t even in the classroom half the time.
In order for a system like this to work properly, there needs to be a system where everyone is involved – administration knows not to disturb and then this way teachers do not have to try to create a makeshift system under the table…
What do you think about a system where a teacher has a planning period that administration is not allowed to disturb [just like they are not allowed, by law, to schedule meetings during your lunch break], but this planning period is used as a place where other teachers can send students if they are REALLY misbehaving?
I can foresee even this system being a problem where some teachers might take advantage of sending certain students out of the room and the teacher on his/her planning period not being able to get anything accomplished due to consistently yelling at students that aren’t his/hers… So…
Is there a way theU.S.public schools can make a system like this work so that students are only sent to teachers on their team? This way, if a student is sent out of a room to a teacher that might have that student for history or science, then it makes talking to that student easier since the teacher-student rapport already exists.
We will be coming that direction this fall and hope to visit other schools. Also a teacher for 42 years and qualified through college – I mostly taught 3rd through 7th. Your mother has been filling me in up to New Z and Australia. Glad to reach this connection. I’ve traveled all my life since I started teaching in Cleveland in 1960 and try to see schools, also along the way. Ended up teaching foreign students; sometimes 8 different countries a year along with upward mobile youngsters in a little town called Poway about 40 miles NE of San Diego. I learned so much about the cultures of those countries and now I am going to get to see them all grown up in Japan etc. Can’t wait.
Keep in touch. Know something special will come your way. Have an American friend teaching English in Tokyo. Would you be interested in his address when job hunting? – Ron S.
Don’t you just want to capture the moment so you can recall it all when you get home? Stay safe.
Cheers and good weather.
The NY high school where I taught for 30 + years had a “Time Out” room where we could send disruptive students and then follow up after class was over. This room was run by a teacher and an aide who kept the kids calm and working (we had to send work with the student). I liked this system because while the disruptive student is acting out and getting attention, it’s not fair for the other 25 kids who are focused and doing their work. They have a right to a peaceful, organized lesson. I often felt the 99% who were doing the right thing often got shortchanged by the 1% causing a ruckus.