A day in the life of...
My day starts at 4am. I leave my graffiti-ridden 20-storey concrete apartment block and wade through the snow to the car park. I check my vehicle for signs of tampering and, as I drive away, pay the armed guard 1,000 roubles (about pound;20, depending on how sanctions have rocked the nation's currency) to keep my parking space.
I'm kidding, of course. But given how Moscow is often portrayed in the media - as the crime-ridden city seen in The Bourne Supremacy, for example - you might just believe me.
I left the UK 14 years ago to work overseas. My last teaching post was in Oman, but life there was too idyllic. I became restless, so I attended a recruitment fair where I was presented with the choice of teaching in Thailand or Russia. I'm not sure why I chose Moscow, but five years on, and even when the temperature is -25C, I don't regret the decision.
My day begins at 6.20am. I'm lucky enough to be provided with an apartment in the city centre; the bus to the Anglo-American School of Moscow takes just 15 minutes, but afternoon traffic can make the return journey an hour. I arrive early to visit the gym, then sit down to a cooked breakfast with colleagues in the cafeteria, which is open to the whole school community, including parents and students.
We exchange anecdotes about our weekends: many of us attended the senior prom, organised by our Grade 12 students and held at the residence of the US ambassador to Moscow. Our school has diplomatic links because we are chartered by the Canadian, American and British embassies. Established in 1949 for the children of embassy officials, the school is more diverse today: we have about 1,250 pupils aged 4-18, of more than 60 nationalities. The children of embassy officials attend, as well as Russian nationals and the offspring of international businesspeople.
By 8am, I am in my classroom. I have 30 minutes before my first lesson, during which I attend a morning briefing or meet students to enquire about assignments missed because of absence. At 8:30am, the students take their seats. I don't enforce a seating plan and there is no bell. This, coupled with the dress code rather than a uniform policy, creates the informal feel of an American high school.
We are an International Baccalaureate school and we use Canadian, American and British standards as our reference. I teach Grades 9-12 (ages 14-18), with about 17 students in each class. I often joke that I can't be late to my lessons because they can't start without me, but yesterday I walked in to find pupils downloading my lesson notes and starting work. I blame it on our "bring your own device" policy, which allows students to use their own tablet or smartphone in class.
After classes, I supervise the pupils who are involved in our creative writing magazine. I'm usually home by 6pm.
Much has changed since I arrived in Moscow: I have married a Russian national and we have a child. This has forced me to learn the language and step beyond the "expat bubble".
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