Volunteer Teacher Thailand (or VTT) is almost single-handedly run by Ken Hyde, a British school principal who went to Thailand after the 2004 Tsunami to help rebuild houses and discovered the great need for learning English in the area since 90% of the English-speaking population of Khao Lak was killed in the disaster. Many of the tourism facilities and employees were located right along the coast where the tsunami hit. Upon returning home, Ken decided to take early retirement and go back to Khao Lak and offer English classes led by himself and volunteers.
The volunteers work in teams and go out to mostly elementary and middle schools in the surrounding community who have limited facilities and resources. When enough helpers are available he’ll send them to a high school and a local orphanage.
The first day of our week was spent lesson planning. Ken helped pick out the lessons for each level based on the school’s curriculum and then we were on our own trying to figure out how the lessons would go. This was pretty self-explanatory based on the lesson plans in most of the already prepared boxes of materials, but some were missing plans as they were probably lost over time. With a little help, we figured out the instructional gap and were ready to go.
The drive from VTT to the various schools ranged from 20 to 45 minutes. We sat in an open-back pickup rigged with bench seats (a very common configuration on the roads of Thailand) This was an adventure in and of itself.
Our first day in the classroom we were with 4th and 5th graders and taught 4 classes, and even though they were all in the same school, they all seemed radically different in behavior and comprehension. One group were absolute angels and another group we could barely keep in their seats throughout the lesson.