First Week of School

This past week was my first week as an Auxiliar at my school in Madrid! My friend and I went earlier last week to visit our school and try out the commute, and the real thing started this week!

The school is a bilingual school, which means that students have half their classes in English. These classes are English (duh!), Social Sciences and Natural Sciences. Not only are they learning content, they’re learning English alongside it! I think it really works, because all the students seem to have a really good grasp of English.

All the teachers and staff are very friendly and want for us to feel comfortable at the school. After reading horror stories on people’s blogs about mean teachers, ones who didn’t speak any English, and ones who ignored the Auxiliars, it was so reassuring to have none of these things happen. The teachers are all very welcoming, and the ones who teach in English have an excellent command of the language. We have also all been put to use in the classroom, which I enjoy! The whole point of doing this program was to get practice in the classroom, and that’s what I’m getting!

With the Auxiliar program, we are required to work 16 hours a week. To comply with this, our school designed four different schedules, each with one day off a week (Monday or Friday). We each will do a different schedule each week of October, and then at the end decide which is our favorite. So far, each of the four of us love our schedules this week and would be fine if they were permanent! The days are long (9:30-4:30) but we get a two-hour lunch break in the middle, as well as a mid-morning break. I’m back to my habits of bringing my lunch every day. I hunted down a lunch box for these purposes, though couldn’t find a single store that sold ice packs. I’ve improvised by filling a small tupperware container with water, freezing it, and putting it in a Ziploc bag.

Our job in the classroom varies by teacher. We are there to model pronunciation as well as assist during activities. So far, my experience has been more of the latter, though I am easing into some pronunciation correction. So far, the teachers and students are excellent at English, and I’ve only corrected the children on a few things. Words with “-ed” endings seem to confuse them, and I’ve heard them pronounce them as if they were a second word: “pronounce-ed,” so I walked them through the correct pronunciation. In Spain, the letter  is pronounced with “th” so the students in science class were saying “thells” for “cells,” so I did a mini-correction and explained this as well. However, besides these few minor pronunciation errors that are easily corrected, the kids are awesome at English! Every so often, the younger kids may ask their teacher for help translating a word, but for the most part they can say all they need to in English.

Overall, I had a great first week! I love the school, the teachers, and the students. I was in mostly 5th and 6th grade classes this week, but I’m excited to see what the next few weeks and schedules bring!

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