‘Normal’ Day

I haven’t yet really written a blog about a ‘normal’ day here yet so I will attempt that this time. I was torn between giving an account of a very productive day, making me look good or a lazy day- exposing me as an utter sloth. Since most days are somewhere in between I will write about two separate ‘normal’ days.


Productive day, Lazy Day

7:20 – Alarm goes off

Alarm goes off

7:30 – I get up, fill up the bucket and have a shower. Brush my teeth.

Next alarm goes off

7:40 – Fill up the ‘pila’, a hand washing station with a washboard and a basin for handwashing my clothes. Spend the next hour washing my clothes whilst shouting at kids to go to classes and stop climbing trees for cashew fruit.

Next alarm goes off

8:40 – Go to teach English to a woman in the village who has asked for morning lessons.

Get out of bed and brush my teeth. I had a shower yesterday, can go without one today.

9:30 – Walk up to my friend Bebito’s house, pick up a spade and help him dig. His house burnt completely down a few weeks ago and we’ve been helping him build a new, bigger one. Everyone who walks past makes some comment about how much ‘Teacher’ is sweating or how red teacher’s face is. Teacher is too out of breath to respond and sweating too much to see where the voice is coming from.

Put music on and read in bed. Occasionally get up to tell kids off for playing with our water.

11:30 – Get a ride on Bebito’s motorbike back to the school and explain to everyone that: no I haven’t been swimming, yes that’s sweat and yes I know I need a shower.

Get out a pen and paper to plan my lessons for the day. Get distracted by the fridge. Give up and get changed for work.

12:00 – Head with Sam to Mary Lou’s for lunch, showered and dressed in my teaching clothes.

Sam comes up to the house from teaching and we go to Mary Lou’s.

12:30 – Get back to the school close to exploding with delicious food. Go to the office and find out which other teacher hasn’t come today (inevitably there is one who hasn’t), get their room key and look at their timetable- I am the substitute for him/her today.

Find out which teacher didn’t come in today, forget to look at their timetable.

Find some students from my timetabled class and chase them up to the classroom. Shout from the balcony at the rest. They all shout back at me that they don’t have English class. I explain, via shouting, that I am the substitute for Mr X today. They explain, via shouting, that they don’t care and they aren’t coming. I reason with them, via shouting, that I will take points off whoever doesn’t come. I enter the classroom, start the class and then everyone comes in.

My first class doesn’t come and I decide not to go looking for them but to prepare everything on the board for when they come. They never come and I leave the stuff on the board for the next class.

1:10 – I’ve marked all the books from my first lesson and sent them out. The classroom floor is covered in sweet wrappers and ‘plum’ stones (called plums here but not actually plums). My next class comes in screaming that they don’t want to write today because they write everyday. I explain that every time I try a conversation lesson, half the class runs around and screams. They beg me to give them another chance, I say ok, and they run around and scream in celebration. ‘Get your books out!’ I bellow.

I do a boring, copy from the board lesson. They all do the work and pretty much everyone gets all the points because it is too easy for them.

1:50 – repeat above

I don’t know which is my next class so I decide to go and teach 6th grade who don’t have the same timetable as the rest. We have a good class until I try and mark the books. There are almost 40 students in this class so it take a good 15 minutes to mark the books and in the meantime two fights have broken out.

2:30 – My class doesn’t turn up. I have to round them all up from around the school and by the time we get started I have no time to do a proper lesson.

Class turns up demanding to play games. I give them a short piece of work and then play Simon says with them. Maybe they’ll say thank you by being well behaved next lesson- I naively think.

3:00 – The bell goes for break time 10 minutes and my students stampede out of the door, knocking over chairs and weaker kids mercilessly. I exhale and go the office to do photocopies.

The bell goes for break and I sit in the playground chatting to kids about who loves who and who’s better at football.

3:40 – End of break bell rings, 10 minutes late. I decide to do a lesson about Marijuana with 9th grade and everyone gets involved in the conversation, which hardly ever happens. Only one girl, who thinks I shouldn’t talk about such bad things in school, isn’t partaking in the class.

I try to do a conversation lesson about Marijuana with 8th grade and they all make joints out of paper and tell me about the other people in the room who smoke weed. I give them some written questions to answer and confiscate rolled up pieces of paper.

4:10 – I take 8th grade up to the sports pitch for PE lessons and manage to get two girls teams playing football within 10 minutes. They finish, the boys start playing and almost all the girls leave. The few remaining are the hardcore players who join in a mixed game. Unlike with the girls-only game, I don’t have to split up any fights and there is some amazing skill. People slowly leave until its just me and a few boys doing penalties.

I have to do PE lesson on the school ‘field’ because someone else is using the sports pitch. Everyone refuses to play in protest. A few boys eventually agree to play and when I let them get started, the girls accuse of being sexist for letting the boys play first. One girl fakes a serious injury to get me to carry her off the pitch and then gets up laughing.

5:30 – Head back to school, realise I forgot to clean up the classroom. Quickly sweep up, say bye to anyone still in the school and head up to the house. Lie in bed and read.

Realise I forgot to clean the classroom, decide I can’t be bothered and go up to the house. Lie in bed and fall asleep.

7:00 – Go to Mary Lou’s for tea. She’s made a fresh batch of bread and gives us a bag to take home with us.

Go to Mary Lou’s for tea. She’s made coffee which wakes me up enough for my evening class.

7:30 – Go to a friend’s house for an evening English class. We’ve recently started reading Matilda together. I laugh hysterically at the introduction of what teacher’s wish they could say about their students to parents – ‘The European grasshopper has huge hearing-organs located on the side of its abdomen. Judging from your son William’s progress this term, I am to conclude that he has no hearing-organs whatsoever.’ Idia, my student, doesn’t understand the jokes at all and it’s hard to translate to Spanish, but she’s still improving loads at reading and pronunciation.

Go to Idia’s house for evening class. Somehow we never get started on English and just put music on and dance instead. All the little kids who are always around the place are probably to blame. Leave their house determined to learn how to dance properly.

8:30 – Watch some episodes of House of Cards on the laptop and go to bed.

Watch some episodes of House of Cards, eat biscuits, finish the House of Cards and start on The Walking Dead. There’s a power cut so we go to bed.

Since I wrote this blog I have organised three new classes to teach in the morning so I imagine my lazy days decreasing in laziness. My camera broke just after travel time so I have no corresponding pictures but will add a few of my sister’s photos from when She, Mum and Dad came to visit.




4 thoughts on “‘Normal’ Day

  1. Hi Leo
    A great blog nice to here how you are getting on
    Sounds as though school is quite unique
    Sandy and Nancy
    SAMs very olds


  2. Lovely to hear from you. So good too hear that you are teaching English.

    But “add a few of my sister’s photos from when my Mum, Dad and her came to visit.”

    “Her” indeed.


    All the best and keep up the good work and good times

    Love Michael and Jo



  3. Hi Leo
    You write so well , I have loved reading all your posts and looking at the photos too. I have also seen michael’s photos of their visit. What an amazing adventure you are having, fun and learning from new experiences, who could ask for more!
    Tara x


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