Taking 'manic Mondays' to a new level: A day in the life of a Rio public school teacher

Public school teachers in Brazil often work at more than one school in order to cobble together a full-time pay check.

Sergio Moraes/Reuters/File
A teacher poses with a blackboard reading 'Brazil School' as children sitting in front of desks with signs reading 'FIFA standard schools' hold official 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer balls, as they pose at what is meant to represent a public school classroom, during a protest against the 2014 World Cup, organized by non-governmental organization (NGO) Rio de Paz (Rio of Peace) at the Jacarezinho slum in Rio de Janeiro May 14, 2014.

Bruno Moreira is a geography teacher at two public schools in separate Rio de Janeiro state municipalities. He teaches about 44 hours a week, with an additional 12 hours of classroom preparation.

“My hope for the future of Brazilian schools is that education and teachers will be valorized. That students’ families will accompany them and encourage them in their studies ... and for better resources on a broad level, [including] teaching materials and social services, like a psychologist in schools,” Mr. Moreira says.

Here's a typical weekday schedule for Moreira:

6:00 a.m. I wake up, eat breakfast, and take a bath.

6:50 a.m. I drive about 10 minutes to my first school in Magé, a city northeast of metropolitan Rio. I mentally run through my lesson plan en route and go straight to class.

7:00 a.m. The first class of the day starts with a room full of eighth-graders. I teach five 50-minute classes with five minutes between each session. One class is for “advanced age” students (16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds) studying at the fifth-grade level.

11:45 a.m. After the final morning class I go directly to my car and drive 35 miles to the Vila Kennedy “favela” in the city of Rio. I think about afternoon to-dos on the hour-long drive. Sometimes there’s traffic and I’m 15 minutes late to my next class.

12:45 p.m. Upon arrival, I go straight to the cafeteria for a quick lunch. I chat with other teachers about the security situation: Conflicts between drug traffickers here can make students tense, and sometimes classes are canceled outright.

1:00 p.m. I begin teaching five 50-minute classes to sixth-, eighth-, and ninth-graders. Class size ranges from 20 to 35 students; sometimes I wear a microphone headset so my voice can be heard over the chatter. There are no breaks between classes, except a 15-minute recess at 2:40.

5:30 p.m. Once classes are out, I tidy the room. If there were disciplinary issues in any class, this is when I report them to the main office. I try to resolve conflicts in the classroom without raising my voice: I want to show the students that there are ways to deal with problems without yelling.

5:45 p.m. I start my hour-and-15-minute commute home.

7:00 p.m. I grab a snack and head to the gym. Working out is how I unwind. I also like chatting with other teachers online.

9:00 p.m. I grade papers and plan tomorrow’s lesson. Sometimes I have to pack my own materials, such as maps or books.

11:30 p.m. I go to bed!

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