A Day In the Life of A Czech Republic Teacher

Authored By:

Stephanie B.

My work week in the Czech Republic looks a little differently than it did back in the states. First of all, I start my morning by a train ride instead of a car ride. When I arrive in the town of Říčany, I sometimes stop for a drink or pastry at the local bakery right outside the train station. Enjoying pastries for breakfast is a rite of passage if you are to make it here in the Czech Republic. It’s intimidating at first to order something from a place that is usually run by someone who does not speak English, but it’s a great way to practice simple Czech phrases. Sometimes I am met walking to school by students who ditch their older brothers in order to walk the rest of the way with me. The walk to school is about ten minutes from the train station. Another thing you will have to get used to is walking more than you would in the States. I welcome this, because it keeps you active every day!

I work at a Montessori school which I believe to be a totally separate teaching experience in terms of how to teach, what you teach with, and how you involve your students. The Montessori philosophy involves a child-centered approach with a supportive and thoughtfully prepared learning environment. Some key aspects of Montessori schools are mixed age classrooms, activities led by student choice, students learning by working with materials rather than by direct instruction, and long periods of uninterrupted work time (in other words, not switching from subject to subject at pre-planned times). I was extremely excited to work at a Montessori school and so was my principal when he learned during my interview, that I attended a Montessori school myself for preschool and kindergarten!

My mornings at school start on Tuesday because I get Mondays off if I have any travel plans. This falls in line with the part time work the program advertises. It gives me a day to travel, get my life together, or schedule outside tutoring lessons as a way to earn more money. I work with a kindergarten class every morning from 8:30-11:30. During this time, I am in charge of one mini lesson that normally lasts 20-30 minutes.

Montessori is big on using materials, song, dance and movement when you teach and I find this exceptionally effective for children that are so young. I collaborate with the teacher each week about what topics we will teach and then plan games and songs based off of the topic. We try to keep it very basic for the younger children with topics like seasons, weather, clothes, colors, animals and holidays throughout the semester. Working with kindergarteners has taught me how to keep things extremely simple but engaging so that they will remember what I teach them! After my mini lesson the children have free reign of what they would like to do. The room is divided into different areas based off of the activities that you can pick. There are math stations, life skills stations, writing stations, etc. I watch what the children choose and will move from group to group participating in whatever they’re doing. It took a while for them to warm up to me being in their class, but now every morning I am greeted by a chorus of “Steeeeeviiiieeeeee” and it’s my favorite thing to hear.

After kindergarten I have forty-five minute lessons with students of various ages and abilities. Our school is quite small, so the older children are split into little groups, three in total. I really like this because I’m never with more than ten kids and I can focus on building relationships with them and focusing on their individual needs. I’ve found that when the students feel more comfortable with you they are more open to practice their speaking. I rotate through these three groups of children with my coworker Olivia and our English supervisor. Each week we meet in between classes to talk about what we will do next week and how we think things are going. Every Friday we have a three hour lesson with all of the children in grades two through five. Here is where we plan activities that will tie together what they have learned during the week. We try to make sure that we practice writing, speaking and listening. I love Fridays because we plan fun things that each age group can do. It’s great to see the bigger kids helping the younger ones and having everyone being excited to share.

In the afternoon I am in charge of teaching LEGO STEM classes to different groups of students. During my interview with the principal he saw that I worked at a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) school and he was highly interested in our STEM class. Since it was a topic I was knowledgeable about, he offered afternoon classes in English to the students. It’s one of my favorite things I do during the week because the children are so eager to learn and to try new challenges. And who doesn’t love Legos? I also have an hour lesson with the principal's older daughter and her friend in the afternoon. I normally prepare some type of game for us to play while we practice our conversational English. Again, this is just one of the different ways my school gave me work hours instead of just teaching lessons during the normal workday. This keeps things interesting and I feel like I never get bored. 

Each week at school is relaxed and fun and I never wake up dreading to go to work. The adults I work with are so kind and inclusive, and the school environment is what I’ve always thought school should be- an exciting place to learn whatever your heart desires. The children are respectful and highly motivated and it’s extremely refreshing to be greeted by energetic faces every single day. I truly believe I lucked out with getting placed here and I know that I will be so sad to leave at the end of the year!