TYPICAL WORK DAY
Although I have two separate weekly class schedules that alternate every week, I go through pretty much the same routine every day. So everyone can have an idea of what I’m REALLY doing here in Spain, here´s the breakdown of an average workday:
1) Alarm goes off between 6:30 and 7:30 or even 8:30 depending on whether I am going in for first, second, or third period.
2) I have part of my daily dose of caffeine (one cup of “coffee” — a.k.a. Nescafé-like coffee that you add hot water to) and maybe eat something quick for breakfast. Meanwhile, I try to watch the previous night´s NBC news broadcast online so that I can be somewhat informed of what’s going on in the world. Gotta represent ‘Murica well!
3) I walk for anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes in order to to meet up with one of the teachers at my school who lives in Santiago. Then, we drive to a meeting place where other teachers wait so that we can all carpool together to school. Everyone has been so great about working me into their driving schedule.
4) I usually have around 3 classes a day, with each class being only 50 minutes long — I know, I work WAYYYY too hard.
The classes I help out in as an assistant English teacher are a) Music, b) Natural Sciences/Biology, c) Ethics/Civics/Philosophy, and, of course, d) English. All these classes are taught in English (although sometimes the teacher reverts to Spanish/Gallego when the students don´t understand). The students have all chosen to be in the bilingual sections of these classes, so they are usually the brightest/bravest/more ambitious kids in their grade. So far I’m really enjoying being in class with them. Although I usuallyyyyy am not crazy about younger kids (shhh, don’t tell anyone), the 12 and 13 year-olds are actually kind of fun to be around. Yeah, the boys are usually crazy and are hitting each other and just trying to get attention but the girls are all super quiet and sweet. I appreciate both of them. Sometimes it’s amusing to watch 12 year-old boys act their age haha
In biology, so far, I have helped out in class by reading about the digestive system and minerals in English and the students have to fill in the blanks on their worksheets. We also sing songs related to science A LOT. Today, we sang the same song about the digestive system 3 times within a 50-minute time period! It´s pretty entertaining.
In English, what my job entails depends on what grade the students are in. In the two youngest grades (the equivalent to 7th and 8th graders), their English is very basic, so I help out by giving them some new vocabulary, and I’ve also made two Powerpoints for them: one about my life in the US and one on Halloween. The other day, they were trying to write 50-word compositions on their best friends, so I spoke in front of the class about my best friend to give them an example of how their composition should be, and then I wrote adjectives on the board that they could use to describe their friends’ personalities. These students are learning the basics, like how to introduce themselves to someone new, how to say what time it is, etc.
In the upper levels of English, the teachers try to talk only in English and we’ve touched on topics like how to say how tall you are (in feet, not meters) and how to compare yourself to another person (i.e. I am taller, I am shorter, etc). We also just have conversations in English about my life in the US and their lives in Noia. For class yesterday, I prepared a presentation for one class on how to make a REAL American cheeseburger (none of that McDonald´s crap), since the topic of the day was food. Ahhhhh and one of the students gave me a hand-written recipe so that I could learn to make this pork dish (which I’ll never cook, but it was so sweeeeet 🙂 ). As for the other English class, I made a powerpoint about emergency preparedness for tornadoes. These kids are your typical teenagers. Don’t really care all that much about school and aren’t like “OH MY GODDDD, AN AMERICAN GIRL! I WANT TO TALK TO HER ALL OF THE TIME”. So, I probably enjoy teaching the younger kids more because they are always waving to me in the hallway and are so excited to see me 🙂
Finally, when I showed up for my English class with the 17-18 year olds, the teacher sat back and just told me to start talking to them and getting them to talk back. For the first class, it was fine because we had ta lot to learn about each other, but hopefully I don’t have to lead the class every time!
In Civics/Ethics/Philosophy classes, so far we have touched on what defines a democracy, what are human rights, and have talked about morals and the different groupings Philosophy is broken down into. The philosophy class should be interesting because I’ve never taken one before, so I´ll probably learn just as much as the students in it!
Finally, we have music class. So far, we have basically just listened to music on youtube (some popular music, but also songs like Scarborough Fair – for this one, we tried to break down the lyrics so the students understood what they meant). We also talked with the younger students about how loud noises can be bad for your health and I gave them some vocab related to that. Overall, it´s a fun and super easy class to be an assistant in!
Other than class-time, there are 20-minute breaks after every 2 classes, and during those breaks, many of the teachers and I go to the café to get some café con leche (with milk) along with a plate of churros, pieces of cake, pastries, and cookies (they come free with every drink, which is good and bad… I’m absolutely going to gain weight because I´m soooo tempted to eat those snacks!). Also, the teachers refuse to let me pay for my coffee. They say that my money is not accepted in Noia, basically haha. So, someone always ends up paying for me even if I put my money on the table ready to pay. They are so nice 🙂 But, I do feel bad that they always pay for me!
Finally, I usually catch a ride with one of the teachers back home to Santiago. Otherwise, I can take a bus back home if there is no one heading back at the same time as me. (I’ve only taken the bus 3 times over the past month though, so I’ve been pretty set with transportation) Thank god the teachers are so willing to work me into their carpooling schedule! Otherwise, I´d be paying 36.50 Euros (over $50) every week (a.k.a. $200+ a month) just to get to and from school. Ay ay ay!