Foreign teachers in Thailand often don’t get the respect they deserve. They are looked upon with suspicion by fellow ex-pats and as a necessary evil by many Thais. I posted on here before about the ‘terrible foreign teachers in Thailand‘ – these negative stereotypes do exist, but they grab more attention than they deserve.
It’s unfair to allow the antics of a highly-visible minority of expat teachers to tarnish the reputation of the rest. There are plenty of wonderful foreign teachers in Thailand. I’m talking about professionals who genuinely care about their students and regularly work extra unpaid hours so they can provide higher quality lessons.
The Wonderful Teachers I Have Met in Thailand
In my post on the ‘terrible teachers in Thailand’, I divided this group into different categories – for the sake of convenience, I’m going to do the same here. These descriptions are based on real people and include:
The Late Bloomer
Some of the best foreign teachers I’ve met in Thailand would fall into the category of late bloomers. These are people who began their teaching career late in life. Their initial reason for choosing the profession may have just been the desire to live in Thailand, but it turns out they have a natural talent for the job. They develop such a passion for this new career that they are able to put in the effort to catch up (and often surpass) the traditionally trained teacher.
The late bloomer can often offer more to their students than the teacher who entered the profession straight after university. These older teachers have experience of working in different industries, and they are also going to have plenty of life experience.
Traditionally Trained Teachers
It isn’t only the international schools that get to benefit from experienced teachers trained in the west. I’ve met a few of these highly-qualified people working in government schools. These are often teachers who have reached retirement age, but they want to continue putting their knowledge and skills to good use. They are willing to accept low-paying jobs in Thailand because they see it as a way to contribute to their adopted home – it is also a way for them to continue working a profession they love.
Fun-Loving but Dedicated Teachers
Just because teachers come to Thailand primarily to have fun, doesn’t prevent them from having a positive impact on students. Some of the worst teachers I’ve met did belong to this fun-loving group, but there were also some real diamonds. These were usually young guys, fresh out of university, who only intended to spend a year or two in the Land of Smiles. They took the job seriously, and left the partying to their days off. Their enthusiasm and willingness to make things interesting for students meant they were able to create innovative and powerful lesson plans – they could inspire other teachers to ‘up their game’.
It is common for people to become a bit cynical and jaded after they have been teaching in Thailand a year or two. This decline in motivation doesn’t happen with everyone – there are some foreign teachers who somehow manage to remain super-enthusiast year after year. They also manage to somehow stay aloof of staffroom politics – this means they are popular with other teachers as well as their students.
There really are some wonderful foreign teachers in Thailand. These dedicated people have made a positive contribution to the future of the country. Teaching is a noble profession – those individuals who take on this role shouldn’t be judged negatively just because they choose to work in Thailand.