When I say I work in Bucharest, people imagine a busy metropolis, but I actually live and work in Bacirc;neasa Forest, north of the city. Some forests in Romania have bears and wolves, but this one is populated by deer and wild boar, which I have yet to encounter.
I get up at about 6.30am and, after walking my dog, I prepare to leave for my five-minute walk to school. I arrive at Avenor College at 7.45am; some children arrive early as we have a drop-off arrangement for busy parents. We have children aged 6-14, and because we are a fee-paying school, most parents are professionals or run businesses.
School starts at 8.30am and on Monday that means assembly. As the school is bilingual, this part of the day is in Romanian; my linguistic skills are challenged but I am getting there. Monday is also my admin day, so I have colleagues to see and emails to respond to before I teach my first class.
The Grade 6 (eight-year-old) children are waiting for me with the animal poems they prepared for homework. They are so receptive to learning and enthusiastic about poetry. We have a noisy lesson as they read their poems aloud, which they do with feeling. They are pleased to receive merits for their contributions to class or house points for being helpful - this is a small link to British-style education.
It is early autumn, so the weather is still warm and sunny, and break is spent outdoors with the children. A group of boys play football as Radio Avenor broadcasts some music created by students from the DJ club.
My Grade 8 pupils have been researching guide dogs in preparation for a visit from a local charity, including a dog. The children have so many questions. In a society where people with disabilities are not well-integrated, I am heartened by the intelligence and compassion displayed by my class, and hope they go on to make great changes in their nation.
Each week, lunch includes a "traditional" menu from a different country. The aim is to create international awareness and this week we have Lebanese food, my favourite. Lunchtime is when the teachers get a chance to catch up with each other. I have yet to persuade all my colleagues to drink their tea with milk, but a few brave souls have given it a try.
The day is long at Avenor because there are clubs until 5.15pm, plus we offer late pick-up until 6pm. Afternoons are hectic, with children changing for sport or ballet, preparing for arts and crafts, or enjoying reading, chess, swimming and karate. I have never before worked in a school with a bespoke building equipped and staffed for extra-curricular activities, and I have to admit that I am still finding my way around the school, its routines and expectations.
I don't have to work from 8am until 6pm every day, but on the days I do, I am glad I live so close to the school. I walk back to my apartment and take my dog out for her evening stroll. A couple of my Grade 5 pupils run alongside me - one of the nice things about my job is that I get to know the children and their families really well. How lucky I am to do this job.
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