Like the naïve little first year auxiliar that I am, I decided to pay my school a visit, learn my way around its grounds, and figure out my commute prior to the first day of classes. Whoops.
Flashback to yesterday: after not receiving any email/response from the school I'm supposed to be working at starting Monday, innocent, unknowing little me comes up with the brilliant idea to visit and learn the lay of the land in person.
(I maybe didn’t *entirely* come up with this idea on my own considering the carta de nombramiento we received from the Community of Madrid describing our placement and pay explicitly says we should go before the first day of classes)
Anyway, there I am in the Boadilla Centro metro ligero station—which, the metro ligero is AMAZING, free wifi for days, super fast—at 10 till 9am, and I look at my phone with maps pulled up so I can follow my teeny tiny dot toward my school. Well, I get "there." Except "there" is this huge, gated compound-looking situation. With possibly eight (8!) gate-doors. So of course, the logical course of action is for me to stand petrified and look at one specific gate labeled Secretaria (secretary) for 45 minutes debating the best course of action. There was a fancy buzzer/video combo just waiting for me to pluck up an ounce of courage.
Luckily, no one made me say anything when I finally pressed the button, considering the phrases I had prepared—por favor “please,” ayúdeme “help me,” disculpe “excuse me/beg your pardon”—this is a very good thing. No, they thankfully just buzzed me in silently.
So I enter this compound situation that doubles as a school (it’s actually extremely nice and cute and had those pleasant triangle roofs shading the patio outside the entrance that you see all over elementary schools in my county in Middle Tennessee; it just had the misfortune of having six different buildings that all look the same and are surrounded by a very serious wall). Of course there are no signs anywhere pointing to the main office, so I wander around a sort of quadrangle in the center of all these buildings, deciding that my best bet was to pick the one building without art projects on the walls and signs like 1º, 2º, 3º (which were abbreviations for grade levels).
Finally I get to the main office, where the secretary is super friendly, kind, and excited to see me. She takes me to the principal, who is in a meeting, so she lets me wait in the staff room. After a few minutes, I meet the principal, who spoke no English, and a secondary school bilingual teacher (I believe he was from the UK, he had an English accent). Then she introduces me to another English teacher in the school (unclear if she was secondary or primary). For the next twenty minutes she passes me off to English teacher after English teacher while she finished getting a card signed (the whole scenario is very funny from an American perspective--if I had shown up at my childhood elementary school unannounced, the principal would have been buzzed, I would have been told to wait quietly in the office and handed a yearbook or PTO manual or something). Eventually, the headmaster asks me for the documents that allow me to work with children in Spain, and then she proceeds to take me to meet the primary school bilingual coordinator.
The primary school coordinator was in the middle of teaching a class. So the principal interrupts and drops me off with the coordinator in front of 20 third graders, who were very adorable and kept waving (kids are the best). The coordinator explains what they’re working on, then asks me to write a quick presentation and give it to the class. So here I am, expecting to just find my school and drop off my papers with the secretary, maybe get a schedule, and instead I am all of the sudden in front of a class telling them about myself.
Mostly I’m just a little salty that I didn’t bring my computer with my slideshow and my little pillow of Washington, D.C. that I was going to use as a teaching aid for my introduction. It’s very adorable; on it are doodles of the Potomac and the Capitol and the Mall and Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Memorials.
I mean, look how fun this photo in my slideshow of the blizzard from this winter is! Kids love snow! This would have been a hit, I know it.
Overall, it was an incredibly exciting and fun day, but boy, did I feel like I was thrown into the deep end for a moment.
But, like all scary or anxiety-inducing experiences, it was nothing a Pumpkin Spice Latte and some free wifi couldn’t fix while I waited to meet up with friends.