A day in the life of...

27th November 2015 at 00:00
This biology teacher in Kazakhstan works at least 11 hours a day – and nine on Saturdays. But her job has broadened her horizons. This year, she took her first trip outside the country…


I’ve been teaching biology at Nazarbayev Intellectual School (NIS) in Aktobe, western Kazakhstan, for almost three years. The school is run on a trilingual educational model, so subjects are studied in three languages: Kazakh, Russian and English. There are more than 20 Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools in Kazakhstan.

My day begins at 6am with a bowl of kasha, which is similar to porridge. I take two buses to get to school, arriving just before 8am. We have about 750 students in grades 7-12 (aged 12-17), who start their day with 10 minutes of dance, followed by breakfast.

Lessons end at 5pm and, unless there is a report to write or a project to finish, I leave at 7pm. We have a very busy timetable and classes take place from Monday to Saturday. But on Saturdays I finish at 5pm and can relax.

My teaching day is split into 40-minute double lessons. I deliver half the lesson in Kazakh and Joanne Brown from Northern Ireland teaches the other half in English. Each class has 12 pupils, and I teach grades 7, 9 and 10.

Our classrooms are modern and well equipped, with smartboards and electronic recording devices. And NIS encourages pupils to take part in international competitions; earlier this year, one of my students won a French competition with a project analysing data on the disease brucellosis in cattle.

Critical thinking is an integral part of each lesson. Students also participate in a range of extracurricular activities that promote international awareness and citizenship, including foreign travel for the purposes of academic study and language development.

In January, I joined seven of my fellow teachers to supervise 70 students on a two-week science discovery camp in Malaysia. Pupils took part in various projects: building robotics; testing to determine their blood type; visiting a tropical forest; taking a trip to a zoo and the surrounding countryside. It was an exciting experience for them and for me – I had never travelled outside Kazakhstan before or been on an aeroplane. The food was amazing: a little too spicy, but the flavours were incredible.

This year, I was entered for the NIS teacher of the year contest. I had to be observed by senior management, display my teaching portfolio, speak publicly and be interviewed by pupils. To my astonishment and delight, I was placed second out of the 130 teachers in the school.

It’s a great honour to be a teacher and every day I strive to become better at it. I set the highest expectations for my students – but I set even higher goals for myself.

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 chloe.darracott-cankovic@tesglobal.com. We will give your school £100 if your story is published.

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