Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Day in the Life Of

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Day in the Life Of

Article excerpt

After escaping the 'crushing pressure' of UK education, this teacher has settled in Shanghai, city of bright lights, polite pupils and panda onesies. But when will the next 'airpocalypse' strike?

Life in a new country is often bizarre. The first sign that you have adjusted is generally when you fail to notice your adopted nation's idiosyncrasies. For me, this occurred when I saw a panda. Not a real one eating bamboo in its natural habitat. No, the moment I realised I had properly settled in Shanghai was when a man dressed in a panda onesie lumbered past me, texting frantically, eyes down, ears up. I hardly blinked. Shanghai is very much that kind of place.

I've been teaching English at Dulwich College Shanghai, a school that serves the city's thriving expatriate community, since last August. I made the move to fulfil my lifelong dream of teaching abroad and travelling the world.

Now I wonder why it took me so long. After years in a challenging London comprehensive, the notion of work-life balance was idealistic hearsay. But here in China, I am far away from Ofsted inspections, endless goalpost-shifting and the crushing pressure of a system that is always looking over your shoulder. My schedule is still demanding - on top of a full teaching load, I also help to lead two time-consuming extracurricular activities - but I feel respected as a professional and appreciated for the time I give.

My students are conscientious and lively. Behaviour management was a key part of teaching in London, so I was heartened to walk into a classroom here and teach without argument. After every lesson my pupils leave the classroom saying "Thank you, Miss", even when I've given them a practice paper or they feel disappointed by a grade.

Many students are from Chinese and Asian backgrounds but they hold passports from a range of countries, some of which they've never even visited. …

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