A day in the life of...

27th June 2014 at 01:00
A beautiful city, delightful weather, cheap transport and the odd vodka make teaching physics at an international school in Warsaw a joy for this Brit abroad. Just don't mention the local cuisine

The alarm goes off at 6.00am. My wife heads for the shower, while I sit zombified for half an hour with a cup of tea.

After making my sons' sandwiches (can you believe that they are 16 and 17 and can't do this themselves?) we jump on the bus at 7.10am. The public transport system in Warsaw is a wonder: unlimited bus, tram and train for just pound;20 a month. Fifteen minutes later, we're at the British School.

I like to spend the first half an hour preparing for the day's lessons. Then I head for another cup of tea and the latest gossip; international schools always have plenty of tea and gossip. This year I'm a Year 10 tutor, and you won't be surprised to learn that 14- and 15-year-olds in an international school are pretty much the same as back in the UK: very "teenage". The students are a mix of nationalities, with plenty of British kids - my own among them - and a large number from wealthy Polish families.

Part of my day is spent providing online training for other teachers in international schools owned by our parent company, Nord Anglia Education. It's a thrill to communicate with such a diverse group of teachers in schools all over the world. I learn far more from them than they do from me.

Next up is my Year 12 International Baccalaureate physics class. The level of physics in IB is pretty similar to A-level, but these kids have to study five other subjects as well. Then there's the theory of knowledge requirement, CAS (creativity, action, service) and a 4,000-word extended essay. I don't know how they do it - it would have killed me.

We're studying black-body radiation, so we head outside with shiny flasks and thermometers. Warsaw is a pretty city and the weather in spring, summer and autumn is generally lovely. Just don't ask about the long and bitter winters.

In the afternoon, I guest-teach a Year 7 class on the subject of space. Having taught mainly higher up the school in the past few years, it is a great pleasure to be met with such enthusiastic faces. We go into the corridor to construct a scale model of the solar system. On this scale, the nearest star would be in Gdansk. Google Maps will show you how far that is from Warsaw.

After school, I usually help out with one of the music clubs run by my wife, who is head of music. In a former life, I was a peripatetic brass teacher and we met at the Royal College of Music. Today it is trombone club, which is a delight, with 20 plastic "pBones" making an amazing sound.

On the way home we stop off at a supermarket and have the usual debate about what to eat. I love Poland but have not yet learned to love Polish food, so it looks like chilli again.

There is little marking to do at this time of year, as Years 11 and 13 are on study leave, so we often head out to a concert. The Warsaw Philharmonic is a great orchestra with a monster horn section. And it costs just pound;8 to see them.

Before going to bed I might sneak a quick glass of ice-cold Polish vodka. Good grief, I'm turning into my parents.

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 richard.vaughan@tes.co.uk

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