Well, gentle readers, it´s that time again—your weekly update to your Instituto Franklin Survival Guide, guided by your gracious program leader and honorary sherpa, Jonathan.
I honestly haven´t been having a good week so far, readers, but bad spells are bound to happen every once in a while. The problem is that when you´re living abroad and completely out of your comfort zone it all seems exacerbated and overwhelming. But, like my Tennessee compatriot Dolly Parton says, “if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain.” The storm will pass, and I´ll be fine. So will you.
I´m telling you all this so that you have a realistic view of what you´re getting into. Madrid is lovely and so much fun, but at the end of the day you´re signing up for a master´s program that requires you to balance work, school, homework, and adulthood. This is not a vacation, so make sure you don´t come in too starry-eyed, because you´re here to learn. They´re called “growing pains” for a reason.
But, again, you´re going to be great and vale la pena total. I´m going to be great, too. We´re in this together.
- Your classes will be on Fridays from 3:30 to 8:30.
Seems doable, right? Well, grab you a Redbull because that´s a long time to be in a lecture, especially after four days straight (if you get Fridays off) from teaching your kids and pretending you don´t know Spanish. Oh, by the way, you´ll get your class and orientation schedules before school starts. Make sure you come completely prepared for classes, and maybe bring a snack. I usually opt for a quick coffee run or a kebab in times of desperate need, but you only get a thirty-minute break so you must be swift. Stay engaged the best you can during class. I have ADHD so sometimes I have to sit and color just to even pay attention, but do what works to stay on your game, except be on your phone. You don´t want to be rude!
- The homework isn´t that bad.
The profesorado at Instituto Franklin knows that they´re asking a lot from you, so the homework they give is very fair and they tend to be pretty flexible. Also, to be perfectly honest, the homework is for the most part really informative, so there´s a direct connection to what you´re learning in class. There´s really no busy work.
- Your practicum is what counts the most, so make sure you´re doing your best there too.
That´s next week´s post material, but you need to know up front that your prácticas count for about a third of your overall course work, so you do not want to mess that up. You will be observed at least once depending on your school and their affiliations. We´ll go into more detail next week about how to rule the school, but let´s talk about your final project.
- You will be asked, regardless of your program, to write an end-of-course thesis paper or a curriculum design project. You have to pick one.
I know some of y´all have written a thesis or serious research papers before in your undergrad so this may be old news for you. It´s not for me, and I have a lot of work to do still. You will have to submit a proposal, a draft, and the final project at different points throughout the year. You will have your proposal either approved or denied and go from there. You will also attend several thesis sessions to get more information on both projects. Make sure you propose a subject that you like, because you´re going to spending a lot of time together. Also, make sure you reach out to the thesis advisor directly with any questions you have so that you save yourself some time and trouble.
- Except for the master´s in teaching Spanish as a second language, the majority of your classes will be in English.
The admission requirements for some of the programs do not have a language level requirement for Spanish, so the programs are not inherently tailored to foster your language skills. It´s a degree in education, after all. What you can do is sign up private Spanish classes (preferably with me) or just make Spanish friends. Spaniards want to improve their English just as much as you want to improve your Spanish so get out there and meet some people! Intercambios are also a good, free option and there are several around the city. Do not get caught in an English-speaking bubble and leave Madrid not having learned anything. I´ve seen it happen and it´s not a good look. Take advantage of your surroundings. Also, trust me when I say that sometimes you learn far more in a bar than a classroom.
- You will be asked to review your classes via surveys.
So, if you think more of your classes should´ve been in Spanish then say so. If you thought your class on Spanish history was bomb then leave a nice note! Help make the course better for posterity and for any immediate change that can possibly be made. Like any good teacher, frame the positive about what you want to see and highlight what the program does well instead of just critiquing its faults. We´re all in this together, remember?
I haven´t scared you off yet, have I? This program is so rewarding and if you really apply yourself you are going to gain so much from it. I just want you to know that we are here to learn and grow, not get our Mr./Mrs. degrees or travel around Europe for a year. There´s time for everything, and above all there´s work to be done.
Now, I have to go see about getting my computer fixed and work on this curriculum design draft.
Bottoms up (I´m talking about my latte).
For further information: Teach & Learn Master Program