Getting Started In Teaching
Before the school year started, I decided to venture to the city where I will be teaching this year, a town called Getafe. My school is about 55 minutes from where I live in La Latina, so the commute was a little longer than expected. To get to my school I have to take two metro lines and a bus. Luckily my roommate from orientation decided to tag along for the test commute since she is also teaching in the area. After two metro lines and a bus we finally made it to my school. I was a little nervous meeting everyone, but I was also excited to see what the classroom environment was going to be like.
I received a tour from the Director at the school; her name is Monste. The school is divided into 3 different buildings. One building is for children ages 3-7 and the second building is for ages 8-12. The third building is the gym and all gym classes are taught in english. After the tour I felt a little relieved in knowing where I would be working this upcoming school year.
That evening I received a message from one of the first grade teachers; his name was Victor. Victor wanted all four auxiliaries to meet that night and get to know each other before our first day. Only two of us agreed, but we decided to meet at a very cute cafe called El Jardin Secreto, which translated in english is named The Secret Garden. This cafe is known for milkshakes, but I decided to try the Irish coffee.
In Spain you sleep a lot less so it was definitely needed. When Victor arrived we greeted each other with the customary hug and kiss on both cheeks; (still getting used to that). We went inside and met the other auxiliary whose name is Karlyn and also from the United States. The night was filled with good conversation and the meeting instantly put my mind at ease for this new adventure.
The First Day
Monday morning after my hour commute and arriving to the school I had some jitters. We were meeting with Montse the Director and Jose, who is a fourth grade teacher. His purpose for being in the meeting was to translate since Montse doesn't speak fluent english. Once we met and went over logistics the crazy day began. This first day was solely observation of the different grades to see which ones peaked our interest.
My first observation was Victor's 1st grade class. It was fun watching Victor teach in english and interact with the children. I was starting to realize how much of an impact I was going to have with enhancing their language skills. Next, I went to 3rd grade with Sergio. He is very passionate about teaching and tries to make the classroom fun. In Spain the teaching methods are more dry compared to the U.S. The reason being that parents pay a good amount of money for the student's materials, and feel it necessary that the teachers teach straight from the book. Sergio doesn't necessarily agree with this method and so he likes to think of creative ways to teach the material. I am excited to help think of new and exciting ways to make the classroom fun as well.
After the first two classes the children go to recess and that means that the teachers have Almuerzo which is a snack with coffee before lunch. I was expecting some very light food, but when we arrived in the cantine I saw a buffet of breakfast food which is very exciting for us auxiliaries because it is traditional home-cooked spanish fare. In spanish culture it is very important to spend time with other co-workers but the problem is not everyone speaks english, so the english teachers were doing their best to translate conversation. Before the year is over I think that being exposed to spanish speakers all the time will help me to become conversational.
After Almuerzo there is one more class before the 2 hour siesta... I went with Jose to fourth grade and this class was by far my favorite. The children were so interested in knowing more about me and their english was the strongest I had seen yet. I really liked the children's personalities instantly. In class I explained to them that I was from the United States and had lived in New York City for a little over two years, and their eyes got so wide. Most of the children know about New York and it's exciting for them to meet someone that has lived there. I'm excited to be able to teach them more about the culture in America and help them gain a better understanding of how Americans live.
After lunch I ended the day with 6th grade. They are very good at speaking English as well. I was impressed that they were learning very hard material in another language, such as the different parts of the brain. This material would be hard for a fluent english speaker at both that age and education level. By the end of the day I was exhausted and realized that children have a lot of energy. I knew that I would need to rest a lot to be able to keep up with them on a day to day basis.
The next day we received our schedules and I was placed with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. I was very excited because after spending time with all the grades I knew I wanted to work with older children. I would be teaching English and Natural Science for all three grades. I am also sitting in a few of their art classes and helping work on their english in free time.
The End Of The First Week
At the end of the week all the teachers planned to have a get together at Victor's house. After classes on Friday we all met in the parking lot to head over. I rode with Lucia who is a 2nd grade teacher. She speaks english pretty well so we could at least talk a little on the way. When we got to Victor's everyone pitched in with getting drinks and snacks set up. We had wine, beer, charcuterie, chips, etc... it was really nice to be able to spend more time with the teachers even though some don't speak english. I feel that my Spanish is getting stronger every day being with them and hearing the language frequently. I'm so excited for this year and all the new opportunities it holds.