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.
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!
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.