Tales From The Chalkface: Another Day…

I’m a lark not an owl, so if I have marking to do I’m up by 6, rather than finishing it in the evening, but if I’m lucky I won’t leave my bed before 6.30 to start the day.

I’ve kept a bit of England with me and breakfast to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, making sure I leave as the racing tips are broadcast. In winter, it’s still semi-dark when I catch the tram, but light enough for me to enjoy glimpses of the Rynek as the tram trundles round the Planty. I get off by the Philharmonic and have a chance to stroll along a Planty path before arriving at school after 8, in time for daily briefing at 8.15.

I pop into the office for the register, on the way greeting parents, ancillaries, other teachers and students with a range of courtesies: anything from ‘Dzien dobry’ for a parent to a casual ‘Hi!’ for a senior student.

My lessons could begin with an IB Theatre class, as it does three times a week – a great way to start the day. I have a tiny group, which limits some of what we do but is more than made up for by the depth in which we can explore topics and the trusting attitude we share together. It’s not every group where I’d be prepared roll around on the floor in a drama piece inspired by Artaud, aiming to shock and disturb the audience, but it’s all part of a day’s work here.

After break, I could be teaching my tutor group, Year 11, English. We do the Cambridge IGCSE syllabus and have just finished units on Silas Marner and The Tempest, which have been a challenge since only a third of the class are native speakers of English, although the English of all the nationalities who have been here for any length of time is at a level where I forget that they are dealing with a second or even third language and could be speaking Polish, Russian, Korean or Japanese at home. This particular class has 15 students, and it is encouraging to see how dedicated to success they have become as exams become a reality.

Later in the day I might have a year 9 Drama lesson or an IB English lesson to deliver. Both bring their own rewards. Year 9 always want a lively warm up game – not easy in the smallish space we have, though much more possible than when I first started teaching Drama in the library.

Space is at a premium but we manage to combine academic results for older students with a nurturing atmosphere for all. After heading off to universities all over the world, our ex-students often visit us in their holidays.

By 4 o’clock I’m ready for home and a chance to recharge for the next day.

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