What I thought would be my first day of teaching English to the monks at the University in That Phanom, turned into a trip to another University to discuss Special Education! Phramaha Wanachi, the Director of the Buddhist University in That Phanom, is a good friend with an Assistant Professor at a university in Sakonnakhom (about an hour's drive away from That Phanom) who has just begun a new program to train Thai teachers in Special Education. That afternoon, I met with five faculty members for over three hours discussing everything from IEPs, classroom management, assessment to mainstreaming special education students.
Following this Monday afternoon meeting with the University Special Education faculty, I was invited back the following Friday to meet with, what I thought would be, the 15 Thai teachers who are in their second year of a five year program to be trained in Special Education.
When Phramaha Wanachi and I arrived at the Sakonnakhon Rajabhat University for what I thought was going to be my little "chat" with a few students.... I found the University's 100 seat amphitheatre was set up for me to give a lecture!
Walking into the large lecture amphitheatre, I was overwhelmed as I looked out, not just at a few Special Education university students..... but also at sophomore students in the math and science teacher training program. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 pairs of eyes looking at me .... about five minutes before I was to begin... my lecture!
Most spoke little or no English so my whole talk needed to be translated. The just of my talk centered on helping the university students understand the need for for them as teachers, to assess their students' skill levels, and then using this information to construct "power lessons" with multiple activities each class period .... activities that actively engaged the students and where the teacher and students could interact and learn together. I shared with these young teachers in training, some possible student grouping strategies they could use in their classroom.