I have come to a recent realisation that you can divide ESL teachers in Thailand into three main categories. I know that in reality that people are not really this easy to put into boxes, but for the sake of discussion these categories seem useful; if only to see where I fit in the equation.
The first group of teachers are the consummate educators. These are the minority and their main purpose in life seems to make the rest of us feel bad - only joking. No these are professionals who live for their job and consequently tend to be brilliant teachers. It could be argued that this type of teacher is born and not made, but I’m not sure about this. I think that if most people put in the same hours and invested so much of their personality into teaching then they too could be this good - but maybe not. All I do know is that I do not belong to this group and probably never will.
The second group of teachers are those who see it as a job but try to be the best they can at it. Teaching does not necessarily give them their identity, but they like to feel that they are benefiting the students in their charge. Some of these teachers might go on to become one of the consummate teachers but most will choose not to. I would say that most of the ESL teachers who stay in Thailand for a while belong to this group. This is where I would see myself belonging.
The third group of teachers are the malcontents. They really don’t like teaching but see it as a way to stay in Thailand. The students get on their nerves and the see the sole purpose of the school administration as being there to piss them off. They are always aware of how many sick days they can get away with taking and see a term as an obstacle course to make it through. They have no interest in becoming better teachers and believe that the consummate educators are at best deluded and at worst evil-suck-ups there to make them look bad.
I know that these groupings are far from a perfect picture of reality, but they make sense to me. I sometimes admire those in the top group and worry that I’m slipping into the third group.