Mom and daughter prove that independence and bucking societal norms make for a happy, loving life!

I am Exhausted – Getting Used to My New Teaching Role

As you may have guessed, these past two weeks have been incredibly busy as I have been getting acclimated into my new role as a Language Assistant/English Teacher here in Madrid.

School Hours: In Madrid, the children begin school in September, but they don’t have full days until October. They begin the day at 9 a.m. and get out between 1 and 1:15 p.m.

In October, the hours are 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Lunch is from 1 p.m. until 2:30, then classes re-convene from 2:30 until 4:15 p.m. This is my schedule in October, and Scarlett’s is slightly different with a 30 minute difference in her lunch schedule. Her school gets out at 12:30, so I will walk over and pick her up as soon as I am finished. This makes it a bit inconvenient, but at least we will be able to eat lunch together everyday and get a nice break.

Taking the Train: The subway, or Metro as it is called here in Spain, is a very efficient form a transportation. However, it does get old when it takes a good 45 minutes to an hour to get to your destination each morning. It took us a few times taking the route to figure out exactly when we needed to leave each morning, but if we leave by 8 a.m. we can usually get there on time. We live in the area called La Latina in Madrid, which is close to the city center, and our schools are in a town outside of the center. We have about 14 stops we have to go through each morning to arrive at our destination, and this includes switching trains for a different line.

Teaching: I teach at a bilingual school, and grades first through fifth have bilingual classes. They have both English and Science classes taught completely in English.

Since my title is a language assistant, I need to have a teacher in the room with me although I am teaching most of the classes on my own during my scheduled hours. The first week I mainly observed, and showed the classes a Power Point presentation about myself. I had a few photos of me and my children, and a couple of theatre photos, etc. to show my hobbies and talents.

Since this is my first time teaching in a formal teaching environment, I am getting used to planning lessons. Since I am teaching via the BEDA program, I have to attend a certain amount of classes during my time in Madrid. So far, I have found these to be extremely helpful since the classes are all about how to teach and plan lessons. This program is a wonderful way to gain teaching experience while living abroad while also getting paid.

Blessings Among Chaos: There is definitely a learning curve to being an English teacher overseas, and there have been a few frustrations during my first two weeks of teaching. There are a couple of classes that just don’t seem interested, or even respectful, but when I see the children in the hall and I am greeted with a smiling, “Hello Amie!” it warms my heart. When the children randomly come up to give me a hug, I think that perhaps I am doing something right.

My teaching goal this year is to help the children enjoy learning English. I don’t want them to hate it. As I continue learning Spanish, I know very well how frustrating it can be when it is difficult to communicate.

Scarlett seems happy so far with her school although she is in a class with students who don’t speak Spanish, and only one other student speaks English.  Her class is a welcome class that is basically only teaching her Spanish. She said that everyone has been nice and friendly so far, and that thrills me to hear.

We have both had a few ups and downs since our move to Madrid, and we are still getting settled after living here for one month. I remember thinking that it probably won’t be until November before we feel completely settled here in Madrid, and that seems to be the case. Moving anywhere can be daunting, but packing up and completely moving to a different country and culture can be both frustrating and exciting. Both have proven to be accurate! There are days when I am thrilled to be here and wake up feeling blessed that I have this opportunity. There are other mornings when I find myself questioning the sanity of my choice to move here for the umpteenth time.  All in all, we are happy with the decision and looking forward to the learning experience this next year brings.