A day in the life of Cristina Polisaitis Oliveira

11th July 2014 at 01:00
In the huge, hectic city of Sao Paulo in Brazil, this PE teacher is discovering the benefits of differentiation. But she knows that nothing brings a smile to a child's face like pure, simple fun

I am awoken at 6.30am by my father singing while preparing breakfast for the family. His symphony is an excellent alarm clock and it gets even better with my mother's good-morning kiss. I am so lucky to have such a lovely family.

Thirty minutes later, I am on the road to school. My journey is just a short bicycle ride, but it gives me enough time to think about the day and lessons ahead of me. I live in Sao Paulo, one of the biggest cities in the world. Bicycle is one of the best ways to get around since the traffic is, most of the time, chaotic; in less than 10 minutes I am at St Paul's, a British school that teaches three- to 18-year-olds.

I head straight to the staffroom, greeting everyone I see. I arrive early so that I have time to prepare materials for my PE lessons and for the playground, which I am responsible for.

Then I meet some three- to six-year-olds close to the school entrance. We spend around 15 minutes playing or reading stories until the classrooms open. This is a special and important part of my day: there is nothing better than seeing a child's smile when they look at me. This simple expression fills my day with happiness.

My daily routine includes not only PE lessons but also my playground duties. Either I am teaching or I am observing the children playing with their friends. I am as much of a learner as the pupils; every day I learn something new.

As a PE teacher, I want my students to grow by practising exercises or playing sports. This is important for their health, but, more than that, it is fun. And as an observer during playtime, I want to see the children solving problems by themselves, making new friends and helping one another. I want to see them playing, having fun, inventing new games, using their imaginations, and learning from and with each other.

One thing that we have been discussing a lot in the pre-prep school is differentiation. Children are not all the same: I cannot expect one child to learn in the same way as another, just as I can't expect a child to run, jump or hop in the same way as their friend - they are all individuals.

I love challenges and that keeps me motivated. If a pupil has balance or strength problems, I want to research how I can help them to improve. If a child does not like PE, I want to find out why and what I can change to support them. Even if a lesson was excellent, I want to know what made everyone play so well that day.

Different strategies, different approaches, different ways of talking and looking at a child affect how they learn. This is my passion. I am really thankful to work at St Paul's School - it promotes learning not only among children but also among teachers.

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

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


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