When my twenty-four weekly contact hours (time spent in front of a class) are spread over five days, it’s hard to define my “typical” day. Now that I teach English in Spain, some days I just teach mornings, others I stay mornings and evenings with a large gap in between. However, on Thursdays and Fridays, I have a full schedule of class through the school’s 9am to 5pm day, so these are the days upon which I will focus here.
My day at school kicks off with a ritualistic barrage of morning greetings. Despite being wholly heart-warming, this tradition can be a confusing affair. To some teachers I speak English, to others, Spanish. The same goes for the hundreds of parents I encounter each day too. Therefore, what comes out of my mouth as I attempt to bid everyone “good morning” is an awkward and flustered form of Spanglish unique to me. “Buenos days… Heeelaaa… How estamos…” are just some examples of the strange linguistic formations which I produce on a daily basis. Despite my confusion, being at the receiving end of lots of cheery salutes is a great way to start the day.
Between 9am and 10.40am I have two fifty-minute classes. I begin with three, four, or five year olds, depending on the day. A significant chunk of the first class gets eaten up by the process of taking off coats, hanging up schoolbags, taking out breakfasts, and putting on babis (overalls), so I’m eased into the morning nicely. Once the kids are ready I usually do an assembly to go over the basic vocabulary (greetings, feelings, weather, etc.) before clowning around with some singing and dancing tailored to the specific topic we’re covering at the time.
Then it’s time for the twos. My entrance into the class is always greeted with smiles, shouting and an eclectic mix of grunts and groans. There are usually a few maverick students who jump out of their seats, plunge themselves into my lower legs, and hug me with all their might until they’re escorted back to their desks by their disgruntled tutor. This ritual never ceases to amuse me. Depending on their energy levels – either extremely high or unbearably high – we sing songs, dance, play games or read stories. Once we’ve done this, it’s time for the kids to expend some energy in the playground while the other teachers and I attempt to recuperate some over our morning coffees.
After the half-hour break, I have another fifty-minute class in which I usually just assist the curricular English teacher in completing the particular week’s exercises. Then it’s Proyecto Humanitas (Humanitas Project). Proyecto Humanitas is a special one and a quarter hour class in which English is taught in a particularly dynamic way, through drama, music, and arts and crafts. I am always alone in this class. It can go from being very enjoyable to extremely challenging, depending on the class group. Towards the end of the class, I bring the kids to the comedor (cafeteria). Once they’re all seated and munching, I’m free for lunch.
Lunch lasts an extremely pleasing one and three quarter hours (between 1.15pm and 3pm). The food with which we are provided (for free – a nice perk) is always of a high standard. After eating, I usually go out – sometimes for a coffee with other teachers, other times to read my book in peace, and, of late, to write these blog posts. When there are events coming up in the school, I use my lunch break to prepare various posters or crafts. At the moment I’m working on a giant “Kiss me I’m Irish” banner to put up in the hallways to mark my country’s national holiday, St. Patrick’s Day. Very important work indeed…
I finish my day with two hour-long classes between 3pm and 5pm. When I have a class with the three year olds, I begin by waking the poor little things up from their siesta. This involves lots of bleary eyed confusion and quite a few tears, but is always fairly amusing for my fellow teachers and I! (For example, it’s not uncommon to lift a child to their feet and have them fall straight back to sleep. They then stand on the spot swaying like someone who’s had a little too much to drink.)
I clock out at 5pm and go through another round of linguistically confused farewells with parents and teachers before making my way back to Madrid.
2014/2015. Posted by Dennis H.