A brief overview of my schedule:
Like most teachers, my day starts off early. I walk out the door at 7:15 am to begin my journey to school. My commute is an hour and twenty minutes by cercanias. For some Language Assistants, the commute is much shorter, but they live farther away from the city center. I chose to have a longer commute, but I live close to the center of Madrid. My first class starts at 9 am and my last class, depending on the day ends at 1:15 or 2 pm. In the case of my students, school ends at 2 pm unless they remain at school for lunch and/or extracurricular activities (school clubs). Throughout my day, I have six 45-minute classes of different subjects ranging from Art to Geography. There is a 30-minute break at noon for recess, snacks, and for the teachers to take a small break (more on this later).
Facts about my school:
Blas de Otero’s population is quite diverse with varying socioeconomic backgrounds, religions, race, and English language proficiencies. Students begin school at, age 3, and remain in primary school until the ages of 12 or 13 ending in the 6th grade. As you can see in the picture below, I’m usually with 4th and 6th grades. On Mondays and Wednesdays, which I consider my long days, I leave at 2 pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I get to go home at 1:15 pm. Amazingly, all Auxiliaries in Madrid only work 4 days a week. My school gave me the opportunity to choose either Fridays or Mondays off. While I choose Fridays, along with one other Auxiliary, the other two chose to have Mondays off. Three-day weekends equal time for many adventures.
As an assistant, I frequently have small groups who may need extra help. Sometimes I work one on one, and sometimes I work with groups of 2-6 students at I time. In some classes, I give presentations relating to the topic in class and overall in my first month I’ve done three solo self-made presentations. One presentation was a self-introduction, one on the solar system, and the third was a review of an English grammar concept. Presentations relating to the topic can often be pre-prepared lessons that coincide with the book. Often, in 6th grade, I read aloud to the class some of the material from their textbook. In 4th grade, I’m currently working on some materials for one specific student who needs more guidance and exposure to English. Some classes I walk around the classroom correcting grammar or just answering questions.
Let me tell you about the break:
At Blas de Otero, I feel quite spoiled. during my experience as an American teacher, my colleagues and I often wish we'd had a moment to breathe, eat, or plan. In Spain, most teachers have a break designed for teachers to relax. At my school, it’s a lovely 30-minute break at noon. The students have time to unwind and have a snack before their last 2 sessions of learning and the teachers have time to have a drink and prepare for the next 2 sessions. Our lovely ladies in the cafeteria whip up some amazing snacks. Some examples of snacks so far have been empanadas, mini sandwiches, tortilla de potatoes (a Spanish fav), and always something sweet. During this time, I talk with other teachers whose class I don't work in, but I enjoy saying hello, practicing my Spanish and they practice their English. It is a nice time to take a breath and enjoy one another's company.
Overall experience and in closing:
Just to preference, I’m in a primary school and from my understanding, the expectations between primary and secondary Auxiliaries differ greatly. I strive to be an asset in the classroom by being proactive and remaining open to the teachers' suggestions. I can’t complain about my 16-hour weeks they are filled with personal growth and even better hugs and building relationships with my students. I find my teachers approachable and their support always present. As the year progresses I will have much more to report and continue to look forward to my time at Blas de Otero. Furthermore, I’ve already planned to hopefully stay on for another year with the program and at my school. I shall keep you apprised of the renewal process, its one of those topics I would have wanted more information on prior to my arrival, so stay tuned!