A day in the life of a TEFL teacher

5:45am – Alarm goes off. Stay in bed until 6:15am. Get up, get ready, make my morning smoothie and leave at 7:10am.

7:15am – Get on the back of the bike, along the Super highway, passing school kids driving motorbikes and Monks walking barefoot to the temple.

7:30am – Arrive at school, greeted by a child hiding in my class. She’s taken all the chairs down for the students and turned on the lights. I make a joke that’s she’s now the Teacher at six years old, to which she falls about laughing! Another Teacher comes in to give me one of his Aloe Vera plants as I’ve been after one for ages! Was just expecting a small plant but it’s HUGE!

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7:45am – Load up my lesson plans for the day, starting with English and then Maths. Add words to my vocabulary tree. (Great idea to help the kids think of new words too!)

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8:10am – Make my way downstairs, greeting children and parents along the way. Position myself ready for assembly and the flag ceremony. Children sing the Thai national anthem whilst facing and watching the Thai flag being raised. It is a very respectful thing to see and a lovely way to see Thai traditions. Practice the Loy Krathong festival dance in assembly. Never thought I would be doing a Thai traditional dance in front of 300 kids when I came here!

8:30am – Bring the children up to the class, settle them in and welcome teachers. Another of Thailand’s respectful traditions. Children wai to Teachers (by placing your hands together near your face and bowing) and say good morning in unison to everyone.

8:45am – Start my first lesson of the day, English. We are learning how to describe our feelings.

10:15am – Line the children up ready for morning break. Count down from 5 – 0 and the kids scramble to be in the line and in the right positions including the line leader and caboose at the back. One of the children has brought in some snacks from his recent visit home to China, so the kids patiently wait for their snacks before break.

10:30am – Start my next lesson for the day, Maths. Learning all about ordinal numbers so play an interactive game on a great website called IXL. Loads of games for all grades and keeps them occupied for 15 minutes or so.

11:15am – I separate my class ready for our Christmas dance practice. Can’t explain how exhausting it is. 25 kids, all between 5 and 7 years of age, trying to organise them and get them to memorise a dance in time to the music! Very difficult but great fun though! It’s nice to take time away from our lessons to do fun things with the children. Sometimes it can be all about work and completing books, it’s nice to do something different which we all enjoy. I quite like playing choreographer too!

11:45am – Get ready for lunch. Take the children down to the canteen and meet my boyfriend. He works at the same school as me so it’s very convenient to go out for lunch, well I need him too as I don’t drive the bike myself! Drive to Big C – nearest shopping centre to school with a Thai food court. Had a delicious chicken fried rice dish and shopped for school supplies.

13:00pm – Sat down to address my huge piles of marking! Got through about 20 minutes to then find a Teacher is sick so I have to cover the lesson. Nothing like being fed information at the last minute like in Thailand. Gave children a worksheet and tried to explain the work as best I could, then continued with my marking.

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14:00pm – Call 3 children in to my class to complete our dance. Then realised I am running late for my break duty so scramble out of the door and down the stairs just in time! Catch children throwing a ball to each other so have to put my Teacher voice on and tell them to go outside!

14:30pm – Afternoon lessons at my school are Thai lessons as it’s a bilingual school so they have English lessons in the morning. However they also study Chinese but being a homeroom Teacher, I have to stay in the class during their lessons. Try to block out the noise with my earphones and start to create the next midterm tests. Never thought designing tests would be part of my job description here too!

15:10pm – Chinese lesson finished early so we decided to have some fun. I put their Christmas play song on loud speaker and the kids went crazy! We’re doing the Grinch this year, and although I have never seen it, they kids are in great spirits ready for practising. They love singing the song; I had some children pretending to be conductors using pencils, and others on the drums using a table.

15:20pm – Kids go down for their PE lesson so I finally have a free classroom and some peace and quiet for the first time today! Finish that mountain of marking and complete the background for our new around the world display! It took me ages to colour in the letters in different flags but I finally got there!

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15:40pm – One child comes running into the classroom, ‘Teacher Kirstie, this person won’t play with me and kicked me!’ So I make my way down stairs to sort out their disagreement, to find both children had completely forgotten about it and are there happily playing together. Love teaching six year olds!

16:00pm – Time for home, pack everything away and write myself a list of reminders for tomorrow! We’re only on Tuesday but already the week is going really slow! Children come stumbling into the classroom fighting over who gets to clean the whiteboard first! Finally, Children say Thank you and goodbye to Teachers.

16:15pm –  Order a new school T-shirt and then its back on the highway for 10 minutes. Reach my condo and find I have a parcel waiting for me. Take a lovely walk through the gardens of our condo to the office and find my new bag from Zalora has arrived! Great website for clothes, apparently they have a big sale on the 12th Dec so check it out too! 

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17:00pm –  Change out of my work clothes and get ready to go down to our huge pool to relax before the sun sets. Complete 15 lengths in the pool, then relax in the Jacuzzi area. Become terrified when I see 3 spiders literally crawling across the water, I never knew that was possible! Realise that I am never going to feel as comfortable going in the pool again, spiders are my worst nightmare, especially ones that walk on water!


19:00pm – Head out for something to eat, come back and watch Masterchef on demand. Can’t miss out on UK TV whilst I’m here! Then relax, write my blog and iron my clothes for tomorrow. On certain days at school we have uniform to wear which makes choosing an outfit for the next day much less stressful! Set my alarm for 6am and silently nod off to start it all over again in the morning!

Join me on twitter @TEFL_abroad for more!


7 thoughts on “A day in the life of a TEFL teacher

  1. Pingback: A day in the life of a TEFL teacher | So, You Think You Can Teach ESL?

    • Thanks for reading! Ah we’re actually doing the Grinch as a whole school play so it’s a song from the musical.

      Maybe something like ‘we wish you merry Christmas’ or for something that’s more for kids, it could be like, ‘when Santa got stuck up the chimney’ ha I love that Christmas song and the kids will love doing the sneezing sound!
      Hope it goes well for you!


  2. It’s so interesting to read about other teachers’ routines as schools seem to vary so greatly. I must admit I’m very jealous of you having your own classroom to decorate and set up how you like!


    • Hi Ruth! Thanks so much for reading! Yes, schools in Thailand do vary a lot. I know, having my own classroom to decorate is definitely one of the perks! Where are you teaching at the minute? I’ve only been teaching 8 months and I love it!


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