December is a month with relatively few classroom activities. There are a holidays to be observed, most notably the King’s birthday on December 5, Constitution day on December 10, and New Year’s eve on December 31. December is also the month in which many schools hold scout camps and their annual Sport Days.
Despite the name, Sport Days in Thailand are not really all about sport. Sure, there are competitions throughout the event and many prizes to be won. The sport disciplines typically include running, football, badminton, takraw, basketball, table tennis, and sometimes even ballroom dancing. The focus, however, seems more on cheering and presenting. There are competitions for cheer leaders, stand cheering, and group cheering. Students also compete for the prize of the best painted cheering stand and there are several parades, each of them with prizes to be won for the best performance. Sport Days in Thailand are lots of fun. Students, teachers, and visitors enjoy the sounds and sights to the fullest and for foreign teachers they are a welcome change from the daily classroom routines.
As a foreign teacher, you will also be asked to participate actively. In the days and weeks leading up to the event, you may be approached to help coaching students in some disciplines. Even if not, take a proactive approach and volunteer to help out in any way you can. Offer to coach the football or basketball teams. It is not only a great way for the students to learn some additional English, it is also a great way for you to show that you are part of the team. During the event, pick a team and join their cheering section. Your students will love you for it!
Some Sport Days even have events for teachers: football matches between the staff and a team of former students are often one of the most watched and cheered activities of the day. Playing on the teacher’s team will not only make your Thai peers happy, it may be a great source of laughter; especially if you play football as badly as I do. Give it a try at your school’s next Sport Day and you may find out just how much out of shape you might be.
To see photos of the Sport Day 2010 at Bangpleeratbamrung School in Samut Prakan, check out the BP School Sport Day 2010 photo gallery.