Monday, December 9, 2013

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about my Job

My school:
I really lucked out with my school. I work in a primary and elementary school in Bormujos. Bormujos is about a 15 minute drive outside of Sevilla. Given the fact that some of my friends commute an hour or more to their schools, I feel very fortunate about my location. Everyone was welcoming and helpful from my first day. It has been quite the learning curve to create communication with my teachers about what they expect, but after a couple months I am definitely more comfortable. The first couple of weeks I was a mess. I didn´t know what was expected of me, but now I can put together a lesson plan in less than 10 minutes. Also, I´m great with flashcard games. Here's the kicker though, my kids think that I don't know any Spanish. So they have no idea that I can understand every single word they say. Now, I quickly realized it was way too difficult to play full on dumb American. So, if a student asks a question in Spanish I'll either repeat the question in English or simply answer it in English. Either the kids think I can magically understand them or they're just not saying anything.

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Colors and Autumn vocabulary with my kindergarteners

My teachers:
I work with 6 different teachers in 11 different classrooms. Needless to say sometimes communication can be a little difficult. Understandably, I work better with some teachers than with others. I've seen examples of brilliant teaching that I strive to emulate and also examples of poor teaching that I add to my list of things I will never do in a classroom.Technically I am not allowed to be alone in the classroom. However, I am comfortable enough now that if the teacher needs to make copies or grab something, I don't mind at all. I really admire when teachers take advantage of my leading the class to spend one on one time with students that need the extra help. But then there are the teachers (or teacher) who takes advantage of my time in ways that make me want to scream. Instead of grading papers or helping students, this teacher will just disappear to who knows where, making me late for my next class. Overall, I have created wonderful relationships with my coworkers. They are always ready to support me or give me advice on the best ways to take advantage of my time here. 

The classes:
I teach kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th grade. I like some classes more than others. My favorite class is one of my third grade classes. Every Wednesday, when I enter the classroom, there is a chorus of "Teacher Maddie" and then I get hug piled. I never realize how much I need that until it happens. It makes the week 10x better. Then there are the classes I dread. From disorganized and uncommunicative teachers to last minute changes in plans, sometimes I just want to throw up my hands and leave. I like a good challenge, but sometimes when a class goes the wrong way there is nothing you can do but give them something to color. Probably my favorite classes to teach are my kindergarten classes. They really make me want to teach kindergarten after this year as a Language Assistant. I get to be really creative with my lesson plans and activities, and to be honest, my students are really easy to please. Sometimes I think I have more fun than the kids. At 5 years old they don't understand much English, but when the somethings clicks, it's really fun to watch. 

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Celebrating Halloween with 1b

What do I teach?
Actually, I teach more science than English. Sciences are bilingual in Spain. So I teach 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade science. I have become an expert in animals, the five senses and food. It's interesting, but I'd rather just be teaching straight up English. It's way easier for me to come up with my kindergarten and 6th grade English lesson plans than my science ones. In my science classes I am teaching science through English. So, the focus is more on understanding the scientific concepts than on the English itself. Also I constantly ask myself, when are kids ever going to need to know the English words for vertebrate and invertebrate? I mean, really.

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Thanksgiving vocabulary with 6b
I like what I'm doing. I like the majority of my classes, students and teachers. You should hear the horror stories some of my friends have told; I count myself lucky in my placement. I become more and more comfortable everyday. I am seriously considering renewing for a second year because I feel like it would be such a shame to put in all this work and accumulate all of this knowledge simply to never utilize it again. So there you have it, a not so brief overview of my job.

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