I work at Everton Park State High School in Brisbane, Australia. It's an inner-city school with only 260 pupils from diverse backgrounds, including indigenous Australians and children from Sudan, Zimbabwe, Greece, the Netherlands and Tonga.
Our school ethos is: "Where every student is known". The small size encourages students and teachers to form deep learning relationships.
The school is bordered by a main road, which passes the front gates, with a bike path and creek to the rear. The proximity of the creek means that our grounds flood when we have a lot of rain, but it also gives us access to a fruit bat colony that nests there - we use the colony as the focus of an ecological study in science.
My classroom and the staffroom are on the top floor, so I begin every day by climbing a huge flight of stairs. Although I have taught here for a decade and should have the fitness of a mountain goat by now, I still hate those stairs.
I teach English and history to Years 9-12, and I also coach our Year 7 netball team and mentor new teachers. The mentoring programme was launched by the Queensland government last year to combat the high attrition rate of teachers in their first five years. I'm really excited about the role; the older teachers who helped me when I started made all the difference. I feel like I am paying that kindness forward.
My day starts at 8am, as I make the laborious climb up the stairs to the staffroom and exchange pleasantries with the other teachers. Before the registration bell at 8.50am, I check emails and tackle last-minute photocopying.
After I check uniforms and homework diaries with my Year 11 home group, it is 9.05am and time for my first lesson: Year 9 English, which is followed by English with Year 12, where we are creating short stories that subvert the stereotypes of Australian character. This builds on work the class completed in Year 11, when they wrote stories that reinforced Australian identity. The unit is designed to make students reflect on what we tell ourselves we stand for and what we actually do in response to the challenging issues in our society.
With temperatures averaging 33-35C, the working day is a challenge, despite ensuring the fans are on and the windows are open. First break comes and goes more quickly than I would like. Then, after my modern history class, I meet the netball team at the school gates and we take the bus to their match. We are keen to win the district final and today the girls play well and triumph. Exhausted and victorious, we head back to school and arrive at 3pm.
I tell the sports master the result, then catch up with my marking and administrative work before heading home at 4pm. I live five minutes' drive away, leaving me plenty of free time in the evenings and no excuses for not getting on with writing the short story I am having published in an anthology later this year.
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