A day in the life of Chris Perry

Working with pupils who are too ill to attend mainstream school presents challenges for this teacher in New Zealand; cancellations and crises are common, but satisfaction comes in many forms

The sound of my dog barking wakes me up at 6am. I hope he will stop so that I can get 30 minutes more peace before my seven-year-old son bounces out of bed. No such luck. My husband is also a teacher - we get our son ready while struggling to get ready ourselves. Suddenly it's 7.30am and my husband dashes off to work, with me and my son not far behind him.

After dropping my son off at the care centre, I drive to work, swigging mouthfuls of hot tea between light changes. The traffic is bad today as repairs to the roads in Christchurch have finally started. It's been three and a half years since a disastrous earthquake struck the city, but there are still so many repairs to be done. I may have to find another route to work for a while.

I arrive to find that I'm the first one there. I relish the peace and quiet for a moment before switching on my computer to see which students should be coming in today. I teach at the Southern Regional Health School, which caters for students who are too ill to attend regular school. Their health problems vary from chronic fatigue and cancer to mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. I work with students on a one-on-one basis and get to know them really well. I see most of them at least twice a week and structure their learning around their individual needs. This can be both challenging and rewarding.

I have eight students lined up to come in today. I make breakfast and sit down at my computer; there are still 10 things on my to-do list from yesterday. When I next look up, it's 9.30am and neither of my first two students has arrived, so it's time to make some phone calls. One of them is sick with a fever and the other is struggling to get out of bed - I tell them I will write assignments for them on their digital timetables so that they can work at home.

My work phone rings: a distraught mother is on the other end of the line. She tells me that her daughter took too many pills and self-harmed the previous night, so she won't be making it in for her lesson today. I'm down to five sessions, which becomes two as my phone pings and I receive texts from three more students cancelling because of a virus, an asthma attack and a chemotherapy appointment.

But I have a great session with one of my students. We've been using Minecraft as a teaching tool for social studies, and today's lesson is all about comparing and contrasting the Roman Colosseum with a modern design in New Zealand, as well as critiquing his replica. My eighth student works independently, finishing off one of her assessments.

At home later, when my son is asleep, I log on to Twitter and see what gems I can find to inspire future lessons. I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I have successes with my students, whether they are big, such as a student getting a top mark, or little, such as a student starting to talk to me. Knowing that I can help them to achieve is an amazing feeling.

Your day

Do you want to tell the world's teachers about your working day, the unique circumstances in which you teach or the brilliance of your class? If so, email chloe.darracott-cankovic@tesglobal.com

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