A Day in the Life of a Secondary CNET

Chatteris' own Abbey Johnson on a typical day as a Secondary CNET. 

My day as a secondary Chatteris Native English Tutor (CNET) begins at the very reasonable hour of 9am, when I arrive at school about an hour and half after all of the students. Fortunately, I am excused from the daily assemblies held in Cantonese and I climb the stairs to the English staff room on the fifth floor, greeting the other staff on the way. Once settled at my desk with a coffee in hand, I mentally prepare myself for the day with a to-do list and a chat with the other English teachers before launching straight into my first lesson of the day: Drama with form 2 (13-14 year olds). This is always an excellent way to start the day. This period, we’re focusing on telling a story without sounds which naturally escalates into the half of the class pretending to be sharks and the other half being chickens. Drama often takes weird turns.

After the hilarity of form 2 Drama, recess comes as a welcome break. At our school, we use recess to catch up with students and have informal chats with the different forms. This often turns into heated debates about the best places to go for lunch or whether Ocean Park is better than Disneyland (I always seem to lose despite being staunchly in the Disneyland corner). I usually have some time off after recess, so head back to the staff room for an hour or so of lesson planning before lunch.
One of the biggest perks of being a secondary CNET is that we are allowed to leave the school at lunch time. If your school is in a busy area like mine, you’re in for a treat and most days I wander around, trying new places for lunch (note: this is good for your soul but not good for your budget). At the end of lunch time, we stroll around with the students to try and walk off the imminent food coma that comes after having dim sum for lunch.

Afternoon lessons begin at 1.30pm, which is just enough time to chug another coffee and grab resources before heading down to the dance studio, where I have my form 4 class (15-16 year olds). Today, we’re making YouTube videos warning tourists about potential scams in Hong Kong and the students have a blast selling each other fakes Rolexes from the ladies market, or pretending to charge party-goers $500 to get from Lan Kwai Fong to Tsim Sha Tsui in a taxi on a Friday night. Teaching secondary allows you to tackle relevant and fun topics like this with the students, which in turn makes lesson planning a lot easier and helps the kids to enjoy speaking English. After form 4, the next few hours are for lesson planning, co-teaching planning and preparation for today’s after school activity; English Kitchen. We’re making pizza, and I spend half an hour preparing the school’s Home Economics room to be utterly destroyed by Form 3. Fast forward to 5pm and we are sitting around the kitchen table, munching our homemade pizza while covered in marinara sauce. One student notes that this was much better than the time we made spaghetti and used sugar instead of salt and we all wholeheartedly agree.

After the kitchen clean up and pizza delivery to the other English teachers, I collapse in my chair at 5.15pm. Time flies when you’re scraping burnt pepperoni off the cooker. The beauty of being a Secondary CNET is that each day is a surprise, with each one full of different activities, events and lessons. It’s jam-packed, but worth all the hard work (especially if you get free pizza to take home for dinner).


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