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Diary of a Teacher in Poland

delphiandomine 86 | 17823  
4 Sep 2017 /  #1
Given the interest in teaching shown by many members of this forum, I thought I'd start a thread dedicated to what a teacher's life looks like. I'll update this thread throughout the year with events and happenings, so people can find out exactly how what it is really like to teach in Poland.

Day 1

Although it may be the first day of school today from the point of view of pupils, the reality is that most of us have been working hard for two weeks now as teachers. Important meetings, such as the school pedagogical council meetings are held during this time, while the change in education system required a huge amount of effort from most of us. From my perspective, the biggest change is that we now have to teach kids aged 12-15 on top of the old system of teaching 6-12 in primary school. It doesn't affect me so much this year as my oldest class is 12-13, but several of my colleagues have effectively had to remind themselves of the more advanced content now found in the new "7th class".

Anyway, after two weeks of planning, preparation and designing my classroom accordingly, the ceremonial first day of school was today. Many Polish schools only have short (or not-so-short) events, but we deliberately chose to make today a normal day in order to help working parents.

The day begins at 7am, when I had to arrive at work to make sure that I had prepared for my part in the official opening of the school year. I had to run through my short speech, prepare any certificates that weren't handed out at the end of the school year (these days, many parents go on holiday in the last two weeks of June to avoid high summer prices) and make sure that my classroom looked good for the start of the year.

Each school does things differently, but in our school, we divided the start of the school year into two groups. The first four classes had their opening ceremony at 8am, while the last three classes had their ceremony at 10am. The ceremony is pretty boring by all accounts - the school headteacher says things about the upcoming year, teachers give short speeches about what they hope to do this year, and certificates are handed out, including for any external exam results (such as Cambridge examinations) that were issued over summer.

The rule today is that each teacher has to look after their class all day, so it was a long day for me - from 7am until 4pm in the school. This year, I have 21 scheduled hours, 1 weekly duty hour and 2 hours for a "interest circle" - so it makes 24 contact hours. It might sound low, but consider that I have 6 different classes, as well as "my" class to look after - which includes preparation, report writing, grading and more. I also have to deal with any issues that arise, particularly with my class - so in practice, I spend at least 3-4 hours a week simply looking at issues as a class teacher.

From a teaching point of view, today was a laid back day - no formal lessons, just 90 minutes for the opening of the school year and the rest of the time was spent on making sure that my class knows what is expected of them. I've got responsibility for a group in the 5th year of primary school, so it's going to be a tough year for them as they adjust to a new programme that is, by most accounts, badly written and prepared. I went over everything with them, answered their questions and established things such as who the class president will be, where they want to go on a school trip (Berlin is most likely, judging by the opinions today), new school rules, my expectations towards them and so on.

All of this took me through to lunchtime, but because of the way that many schools in Poland are organised, the kids only have a 20 minute break to eat a quick lunch. In my opinion, it's nowhere near long enough, especially given that they have to actually go to the canteen, get food and sit down, which means that they only have 10-15 minutes maximum to actually eat everything and be at their next class.

After lunchtime, we watched a cult Scottish movie, which took us through to 2pm. Some kids were picked up or went home with the agreement of their parents after the official ceremony, but most kids stayed in school until the end of the day. Unfortunately, the stupid (in my opinion) tradition of the kids being expected to wear nice clothes at the opening of the school meant they couldn't really go outside - so for the last two hours, they were given free time and allowed to do as they wanted (within reason) in the classroom. It also gave me a chance to observe their behaviour, particularly one child who was notorious last year for his behaviour towards certain teachers.

4pm came, and the kids went home. Thankfully at this age, they don't need to be released into the care of adults - they simply can go home by themselves after they cleaned my classroom, ready for tomorrow. After that, I typed up my notes (I keep a diary of everything that happens, just in case it's needed later - it helps a lot when a child's behaviour is deteriorating) and went home.

The job is not over, however - now I'm preparing tomorrow's classes. Our school operates the idea of CLIL - Content and Language Integrated Learning. This means that the kids have only two hours of 'traditional' English lessons, while they receive an extra 6 hours a week of subjects taught in a foreign language as an addition to the normal subjects taught in Polish. So, for instance, tomorrow I will teach a class on history - so my plan is to introduce this class to the concept of civil war. The plan is to dedicate this semester to the topic (it's only 1 class a week) - so we will explore the topic in-depth, with the final grade being based on a presentation on a civil war of their choosing. From my planning notes, we will explore the Russian, Irish and American civil wars, before tackling more complicated and recent concepts from the latter half of the 20th century such as the long lasting conflicts in Sri Lanka, Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

It takes a lot of work to prepare, not least because it means that I have to have reasonable knowledge of the entire school programme in order to create my own programmes for these CLIL classes.

Anyway, questions welcomed!
cms 9 | 1253  
4 Sep 2017 /  #2
I'm trying to think of cult Scottish movies that don't involve booze, sex or heroin ! I'm left with Gregory's Girl and Local Hero
OP delphiandomine 86 | 17823  
4 Sep 2017 /  #3
Gregory's Girl was exactly the one! By far the best Scottish movie of all time in my opinion.
mafketis 37 | 10772  
4 Sep 2017 /  #4
What about The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie or the original Wicker Man? Or are they not considered Scottish enough?
OP delphiandomine 86 | 17823  
4 Sep 2017 /  #5
Not in my opinion, because the Wicker Man was filmed in almost Englandshire, while I've never seen The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3856  
4 Sep 2017 /  #6
let's be honest there is not much choice of Scottish films is there>? Gregory's girl is about 40 years old isnt it? while the others involve heroin or violence.
mafketis 37 | 10772  
4 Sep 2017 /  #7
I've never seen The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

You should look it up. "My gels are the creme de a la creme" Maggie Smith is frickin' amazing in it.
jon357 73 | 22638  
4 Sep 2017 /  #8
let's be honest there is not much choice of Scottish films

Red Road is good, though most teachers would definitely want to edit out the [***watch language***] before letting it anywhere near a school and the bit where she rubs the contents of a nodder up her biff in order to make a false rape allegation is age inappropriate for primary level (and might give criminal ideas to Kelly-Marie in year 10) yet is essential to the film's plot.

Or are they not considered Scottish enough?

Neither really. Both could be anywhere.

was filmed in almost Englandshire

Now now, we border reivers are Scots too.

There's Neds, The Angels' Share, and The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby, all good films, the last one great for infants upwards.

For kids of mid-junior school upwards, some of the interactive stuff from the dEaDINBURGH franchise is great. The Din Eidyn Corpus of novels are young adult ones (some nasty violence, no sex at all) yet readable by adults and there are interactive resources aimed at schools. Kids love zombies, and there's a lot of educational value in the critical thinking and problem solving exercises.
Joker 2 | 2220  
4 Sep 2017 /  #9
Anyway, questions welcomed!

All that work for a measly $20K per year? Oh wait, probably not even that much. You don't work all summer long either!

Why didn't you get a teaching job in your homeland of Scotland making the big bucks?

Uneducated Mexicans make more money than you flipping burgers in the USA....LoL
jon357 73 | 22638  
4 Sep 2017 /  #10
[***watch language***]

Point taken - even the medical word for that raises eyebrows and might come up on the wrong sort of online search. If anyone wants to know what was deleted, they can just look at the wiki page about the film, which caused some discussion. I recommend the film though not for schools use.

Thinking about the dEaDINBURGH stuff, it would work well in a Polish classroom for teaching English. Now that the fashion (not sure if it's got to PL yet) is about blending language learning and critical skills work, this could actually be an excellent resource if used well. It works best for Scottish/NE England schools who can actually visit the physical place they've set up for school parties, however some of the online resources could be used well in Poland.
OP delphiandomine 86 | 17823  
4 Sep 2017 /  #11
For kids of mid-junior school upwards, some of the interactive stuff from the dEaDINBURGH franchise is great.

Thank you for the heads up, I'll see if any of them might be suitable for use. I'm always trying to bring some authenticity to the classroom rather than the horrid generic "British Council" English that dominates these days, so I'll give it a try.

You're right that kids love zombies - the "horrible histories" were a huge success last year.
Roger5 1 | 1432  
4 Sep 2017 /  #12
Never seen pomjb? Shame on you. The book is great, too. "For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like."
cms 9 | 1253  
4 Sep 2017 /  #13
I think the Wicker Man would freak podstawowe kids out a bit too much !
Lyzko 42 | 9477  
4 Sep 2017 /  #14
"Jean Brodie" is one of my all-time favorite movies! Never read Muriel Sparks' novel, but ol' Maggie never gave a better performance if she tried. Seeing it again, from the very opening scenes until the final ones, I began with a lump in my throat and found it so sobering as well as beautifully played, all hands thumbs up for a great cast:-)
4 Sep 2017 /  #15
"Jean Brodie" is one of my all-time favorite movies!

Didn't know it was originally a film, it was a TV series in the late 70's.
jon357 73 | 22638  
4 Sep 2017 /  #16
a film

I think Maggie Smith won an Oscar for it - it was her big break. About 1970 or 71.
Atch 21 | 4156  
5 Sep 2017 /  #17
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Not suitable for children aged 12-13. Although a great film,the theme is far too adult to be of much interest to kids of that age. Also there is some mild nudity in it.
mafketis 37 | 10772  
5 Sep 2017 /  #18
the Wicker Man would freak podstawowe kids out a bit too much

Not suitable for children aged 12-13.

To be clear, I was asking about those two very great movies could be considered "Scottish" movies rather than just "British". I was very much _not_ suggesting showing them to 12 year olds (though I did see POMJB when I was 13 and I turned out great. Just ask my analyst and my parole officer!)
jon357 73 | 22638  
5 Sep 2017 /  #19
Something like this could work well - it wouldn't be hard to find the resources or the performers:

performers who challenge our expectations of gender telling old favourites and new stories to children and their
Atch 21 | 4156  
5 Sep 2017 /  #20
Jon, Jon, Jon, tut tut. I feel compelled to respond in music hall parlance with the immortal lines of Florrie Forde 'Hold your hand out you naughty boy'.
jon357 73 | 22638  
5 Sep 2017 /  #21
It's a serious initiative, happening in the US and in the UK.

Only good.

Some of the better known Polish drag artistes, like Miss Pvssy, Mad Ona and Krystyna Pawlowicz might be interested
rozumiemnic 8 | 3856  
5 Sep 2017 /  #22
what it is jon, it a concerted effort by misogynists to get rid of women altogether.
Women's spaces that were hard fought for, are now being eradicated.
If we dare to object or even question, we are called 'bigots' 'terfs' or worse (recently I was called a 'disgusting cockroach' for suggesting that people with penises should use the men's space...

Drag artists are the gender equivalent of white artistes 'blacking up' to mock black people.

in our local school, just because some attention seeking boy with an attention seeking mother wanted to dress as a girl, the entire senior prom was filmed for the BBC. anyone who objected was called a nasty bigot.
Atch 21 | 4156  
5 Sep 2017 /  #23
a serious initiative

Get up the yard as they'd say in Dublin :)) It's a bit of an earner for the drag queens bless them and the kids will enjoy it but honestly what a load of cobblers. Drag is a time honoured tradition in the British music hall with both male and female impersonators and British kids don't need to have stories presented to them in this self consciously 'gender fluid' manner. Drag is part of the British cultural tradition and all you need to do is take the kids to a pantomime where they can see Widow Twanky, the Ugly Sisters and isn't there a male role in Dick Whittington that's often played by a girl??

Say what you like, I know what you're up to. If Polonius were dead he'd be turning in his grave :) Actually we haven't seen much of him since his suspension so if he's still alive this will finish him off entirely.
jon357 73 | 22638  
5 Sep 2017 /  #24
a concerted effort by misogynists to get rid of women altogether.

Perhaps in your mind. Not in a music hall.


These exist, among second-wave feminists. SWERFS too.

I think it's a good initiative. Breaks down barriers and entertains kids.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3856  
5 Sep 2017 /  #25
yes I am a TERF and proud. If it is a choice between that and being called a 'dirty cockroach' by attention seeking boysies who 'feelz' like a woman (whatever they think they mean by that) then fine.

its not just in the music hall Jon though is it?
jon357 73 | 22638  
5 Sep 2017 /  #26

Plenty of those in education. You aren't a SWERF as well, are you?
Ziemowit 14 | 4046  
5 Sep 2017 /  #27
I thought I'd start a thread dedicated to what a teacher's life looks like. I'll update this thread throughout the year with events and happenings

Will you update people with the address of your new school as well, Delph?
rozumiemnic 8 | 3856  
5 Sep 2017 /  #28
not really though Jon,. teachers and social workers have to toe the party line, which is, trans is good. I even know of one child who was removed ffrom her mother's care, because the mother thought surgery to make her into a 'real girl' was probably a bad idea. She was 14.

Not sure what a SWERF is, enlighten me.
jon357 73 | 22638  
5 Sep 2017 /  #29
teachers and social workers have to toe the party line

Above all, they have to produce well-rounded adults, able to cope with all the future holds.

One reason Critical Thinking plays such a large part now.
Roger5 1 | 1432  
5 Sep 2017 /  #30
If anyone is thinking of watching the truly awful remake of the Wicker Man, starring Nick Cage, don't bother.
Ken Loach's 2004 Ae Fond Kiss has a look at modern Scottish reality in this romcom. Suitable for the age group. It's on YT.

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