Survive first week of work: check.
And not just survive, mind you. I think I did pretty well. Obviously it was rough at times, chaotic nearly always and successively more exhausting, but all in all, my first week as a productive Spain dweller was a success.
During my time as an Auxiliar de Conversacíon with my first school, Alberite, I work as an assistant in the English classes; basically either presenting about American culture/my life/other topics in English or helping out the main English teachers with pronunciation assistance, grammar reinforcement and/or songs-games-and-activities. I get to work with a ton of students—I help with each of the classes from grade levels 1-6 as well as with the E.I. classes (educacíon infantíl) which are children ages 3-5.
All said, I had a blast with them this first week. I know it’s probably very “honeymoon” stage, as they are a little bit in awe of (and let’s face it, probably weirded out by) this strange American girl who has a boy’s name (people have a hard time differentiating my name from “Brian”); talks about this Nebraska place where there’s lots of corn and American football; and smiles ALL THE TIME (I actually think I saw a girl imitating my cheesy-facedness in the back of one of my classes. Oh well , jaja). Mostly what I did this week was present a short slideshow on the United States, Nebraska and other things that would help them get to know me a little better and serve as a springboard for questions I could ask them about themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed explaining what/where Nebraska was (California is here. New York is here. Nebraska is in the middle of them.); hearing the “awws” as they saw pictures of my family and pets; and denying, for the moment, requests to dance for them (I’m an avid ballroom/Latin dancer and had included that in “hobbies” section of my slideshow…I’m thinking I might use a promise of a short performance as an incentive for good behavior or something). With the younger ones, it was mostly songs and games—the cuteness was almost too much to bear when I attempted to sing Old Macdonald with a group of 3 year olds who spoke about as many words of English as they had toes…it was pretty much them swaying and singing the “e-i-e-i-ooh” parts, but it’s a start! Had a cool realization as I was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to a group of 1st graders that the same thing could be happening nearly a world away in Nebraska or any school in the United States. Kinda neat. 🙂
As this program only consumes 12 hours a week of my time, I, like most other Auxiliares, found other ways to busy myself (and make a few Euros along the way). For many, this is in the form of private tutoring lessons for kids or adults. For me, it’s the same thing, just with a few more middle-men involved. I was fortunate enough to find a place with an English academy in Logroño due to a friend of Jake’s being employed there at the moment, and thus I serve as basically an after-school private group English tutor for kids aged about 6 to 14 years old. This position was a bit more challenging for me, as the tutors are responsible for a sort of lesson plan (warm up activity, lesson from a workbook, vocabulary/exam studying help, game) that lasts for an hour as well as any classroom management (aka discipline) that needs to happen. Luckily our classes are pretty small and well-behaved for the most part, but I can’t say I haven’t utilized a little “positive reinforcement” every now and then (read: treats, if the class accrues more positive than negative points in a given period). It’s definitely a challenge at times to motivate the kids and create a very fun environment –we’re charged with the task of being the “fun” English class that they don’t have at school, so creating a balance between learning and play will definitely be a key point in our classroom success. It’s been great, as well, though. From teaching kids to play “Go Fish” (although it’s a bit different…in this academy we have to teach them using British English, so hearing ‘have you got a 9’ is a bit odd to hear, but necessary I suppose!); to discussing everyone’s football (soccer) team favorites (it’s always interesting to see the ratio of Real Madrid and Barcelona fans, as even wee little ones seem to have chosen the team to which they owe allegiance); to showing them pictures of my home (“Que guay!” (in English ‘How cool’) one little girl exclaimed on seeing a postcard of Nebraska countryside….more excitement than I expected, but I suppose anything different/out of the ordinary is always cool to a kid).
Anyway, this post has already reached it’s readable length-limit and more, so I’ll sign off for tonight. More to come, I’m sure, as I start with my second school, Albelda tomorrow (essentially first week of school all over again!) Hope all is well where you are, and hope you’re enjoying my musings. Let me know if you have any requests on what to hear about from my adventures!