A day in the life of ... Brian Lalor

6th December 2013 at 00:00
A deep respect for education is one of many reasons why Vietnam is such a rewarding place to work. But will this English teacher at an international school ever get used to the smog in Hanoi?

I no longer need an alarm clock. After 10 years of teaching, I just know when I have to get up. I grab my phone and tiptoe out of the room, so as not to wake my sleeping wife and baby.

It is 5.30am and the locals are already out exercising. My morning routine is a swim and four chapters of the Bible. Then I get dressed, jump on my scooter and weave through the Hanoi traffic. I arrive at Singapore International School just before 8am.

Most Hanoians live very different lives to those of my students. The average wage is about $200 (#163;120) a month, but children at international schools usually come from affluent families. It is not uncommon to see them being driven to school in an expensive vehicle such as a Mercedes-Benz.

My fifth-grade students are full of life. I have playground duty most mornings and enjoy welcoming the 10- and 11-year-olds and their parents. Family is very important in Asia. One of the keys to successful teaching here is to build strong relationships with students and their families. Parents in developing countries invest a lot of money in their children's education and it is our duty to give them the best possible experience.

Students at my school learn Vietnamese and English. The day usually begins with an English lesson. I have 18 students in my class and they are seated in three groups of six. They collaborate in their second language while I roam around guiding the instruction. In English classes, the children learn literacy skills, collaboration, problem-solving, risk-taking and technology integration. In Vietnamese lessons, they learn about their rich history and culture.

Teachers at our school have free periods that are used for planning and professional learning communities. These sessions are an opportunity for people from all over the world to share experiences and ideas and learn from one another. We have teachers from the Republic of Ireland, England, Australia, the US, the Philippines and, of course, Vietnam.

For lunch, rice, vegetables and meat are served in the canteen. The school day finishes at 4pm but we cannot leave the campus until 5pm. I arrive home at about 5.30pm, have dinner, spend time with my family and put my daughter to bed at 8pm. After a long day, I am also ready to hit the sack and start afresh tomorrow.

Teaching in Vietnam is very rewarding. Respect for teachers is embedded in the culture: gifts and flowers are given out for Teachers' Day on 20 November and the community is very supportive. Asian cities are, however, extremely polluted, and keeping your spirit and body in shape is key to surviving away from home.

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 ed.dorrell@tes.co.uk

We will give your school #163;100 if your story is published.


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now