A day in the life of ... Maja Lebar Bajec

The English teacher at a high school in Ljubljana, Slovenia, tries to stir up debate and cause commotion among one passive group of teenagers but has to work hard to quieten down her next 'entertaining' class

The alarm clock goes off at 5.50am. My husband and I both commute and it takes us more than an hour to drive to Ljubljana. During the ride I mentally go through the day ahead, and when I get to school, the Gimnazija Ledina (Ledina High School), I read the lesson plans and run some errands. My first lesson today is not a real lesson but a parents' appointment.

The proper lessons begin after the morning break. The first one is with third grade (17-year-old) students, a class that is intriguing. They are due to hand in their first literary essay; I wonder how many of them will. The students changed dramatically last summer; in September it felt as if their energy had been drained away by some mysterious power. They are extremely passive, which I don't like. I miss debates and commotion. They can make me slightly drowsy. I need a lot of focus to get to my usual self before the next lesson begins.

After that, I teach two lessons of fourth grade (18-year-old) students, which means two lessons on more or less a similar topic. They are leaving in May and I think they are slowly becoming aware of the big things ahead of them. I like both fourth grade classes very much. We have always got on well.

These two lessons at a very high academic level are followed by two lessons of first grade students (15-year-olds). First-graders are funny in a way, still quite naive, and the topics presented are basic.

The last lesson of the day is with my own class, which means we discuss all sorts of things before we start with English. This is their eighth period; they feel quite tired and I need some time to quieten them down. Nevertheless, I like these children very much; they are entertaining and honest.

I enjoy being in the classroom although the children can make me upset or frustrated. But if a few of them remember things I tell them, be it in a professional context or about life in general, then my goals have been accomplished.

The school day ends at 2.50pm. On the way home I collect my husband and if he does the driving I might doze off. If we are lucky, we get home just before 5pm. We have already had lunch in school so I hit the gym, go running or do something around the house. I don't feel well if I'm not active. I strongly believe that you can face the pressures of everyday life only if you are physically strong.

We usually have dinner at about 8pm. I have been blessed with this husband of mine - besides all other things, he is also an exquisite cook. Before dinner I plan for the following day, although I usually draft something the weekend before. I do some internet research, read professional articles and work on projects. Teaching has changed drastically in the past 14 years since I started work. There is a lot of paperwork.

Today I'm finished before dinner, though, which means I can actually sit down with a book of my choice or watch a film. I should be in bed by about 10pm; that, however, rarely happens.

All in all, this is a good day, with no substitute lesson or urgent things to take care of. It is not always like this, though. When there are tests or homework to read, I will sit for hours, late at night, all weekend. No visitors, no fun.


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