Pre Teach and Learn Program
I clearly remember telling my friends and family that I was moving to Madrid to teach English for a year and receive my Master in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. My entire family and all my friends thought I was crazy. I knew no one in Madrid, I had no place to live in Madrid, and no one believed that all those high school and college Spanish courses would pay off. Against all their efforts, I knew it was what I wanted for myself. So I followed my heart. I scheduled an appointment with the New York Consulate and several weeks later received my student visa in the mail.
I remember arriving in Madrid, with only my suitcase in hand. I didn’t have any acquaintances, I didn’t have a communication device, and I didn’t have a place to live. It was intimidating at first, but then after accessing WIFI and checking the Teach and Learn Facebook page I was immediately reassured that I was not in the situation alone. Thanks to Facebook, that first night in Madrid I met up with a great group of other students who would be completing the Teach and Learn Program. Shortly after, I attended the Teach and Learn orientation event where I met even more fascinating people. It was obvious that without the tight, knit bond of the Teach and Learn network I might not have built the wonderful relationships I did with so many incredibly, amazing people even before the program actually started.
During Teach and Learn Program
That first step into a Spanish school can be intimidating. You are walking into the place you will be everyday for the next 9 months. If you are as lucky as I was, you will immediately be greeted with warm smiles and kisses from every co-worker who meets you. I can honestly say I couldn’t have asked for a better working atmosphere. All my colleagues were so grateful to have me and the two other native English language assistants at the school. Our suggestions and ideas on how to improve the bilingual program at the school and how to structure specific classes were always genuinely listened to and considered. I was fortunate to work with a wide range of grades teaching English, Science, and Art from children 3 years old up through 6th grade. My school not only made me feel welcomed inside of school but outside as well. During the 10:15 break every morning, my colleagues would politely invite me to a coffee in the nearby café. Once a week they also invited me to eat lunch outside of school. This was a great opportunity to not only build relationships with my colleagues but also get an inside look at the Spanish culture. These morning coffees and weekly lunches soon led to unbelievable friendships outside of school.
Commuting to Alcala, attending long classes, and meeting the expectations for the Master level course work were not always easy tasks. I do admit that I was sometimes faced with challenges. However, in addition to the internship, the course work, and private English lessons to supplement my income, I knew moving abroad that I had to travel as frequently as possible. With all the demands of the Teach and Learn Program, I was fortunate enough to find time on long weekends and breaks to travel with friends and classmates that I met through the Teach and Learn program and my internship placement. In that one year, I visited well over 15 cities all over Spain, Italy, and Portugal
Every time I became overwhelmed or stressed about the high expectations and the demands, I simply remembered that I was living abroad in Spain, was so fortunate to travel regularly, and would soon be graduating with a Master in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. I was confident that enrolling in the Teach and Learn Program was the best choice I could have made.
Post Teach and Learn Program
I have always felt that I was meant to be a teacher. I studied education, received my bachelor’s degree in education, and had spent endless hours in the classroom. Yet, it wasn’t until I completed the Teach and Learn Program that I really found my niche in the classroom. I absolutely loved the course content of the Master in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. In addition to the course work I absolutely loved my experience in the classroom teaching the English language to non-native English speakers.
After being handed that Master’s diploma at graduation, I knew I had to find a way to continue in a similar field. Without thinking twice I renewed my student visa to work as an auxiliar de conversación at the same school through the BEDA program. I also decided that I needed to build my academic knowledge of teaching English. I quickly applied to receive my ESL certification online through Penn State University.
After that second year in Madrid, I decided I wanted to return home to Philadelphia. However, I wanted to utilize the skills and academic knowledge I had acquired while living in Madrid for two years. I am currently working as a 4th grade teacher in a community with a high Puerto Rican population. I am continuously differentiating and modifying material and content to meet the needs of the English language learners in the classroom. I wouldn’t be nearly as successful in the classroom without the knowledge and experiences I acquired through the Teach and Learn Program.
I love my job and love the population of students I am currently working with, but nothing can compare to the wonderful experience I had in Madrid. With that being said, I am starting to seek out a new opportunity to move to Madrid in the fall.